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Highest number of Vidi grants go to Utrecht


Ten UU scientists received good news today: they received a Vidi grant worth 800,000 euros. Of all universities, the highest number of grants went to the UU.

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Wobbling black holes, personalised nanoparticles, resilience in climate policy, and more: on Friday, 85 experienced researchers received Vidi grants worth 800,000 euros each.

A Vidi is meant for experienced scientists who, after their PhD, have a few years’ experience in research. They can use the money to work on research for the next five years.

Application pressure
In the selection process, research financer NWO assesses the quality of the scientist, the originality of the research proposal, the expected scientific impact, and the possibility for applying the knowledge. The grants are part of the so-called Innovation Impulse of Veni, Vidi, and Vici grants for beginning, experienced, and very experienced researchers respectively.

This year, 443 scientists applied for a Vidi grant; 25% less than last year. Cause of the drop in applications is the implementation of the new ‘embedding guarantee’ (in Dutch ed.): researchers can only apply for a Vidi grant if they have a declaration from a research institute that states they will receive a tenure track of permanent contract if they obtain the grant. As a result of the drop in application pressure, the success rate of the Vidi applications rose from 15 to 19 percent.

Closely followed
Of the 443 applicants, 245 were men and 198 were women. In the end, 50 men (20 percent) and 35 women (18 percent) received grants. This ratio is comparable to previous years. In the exact and nature sciences, the highest percentage of applications were accepted (28 percent). In the social sciences and humanities, a little over 1 in 10 applicants received Vidi grants (13 percent), and in technological sciences, this number was nearly one in five (18 percent).

Utrecht University stands out with a total of 10 grants. Others that performed relatively well this year were the Radbout University (8), University of Amsterdam (7) and TU Delft (also 7). Of the academic hospitals, the Amsterdam UMC received the most grants (5), closely followed by Leiden UMC with 4 grants. UMC Utrecht received two grants, bringing the total of Utrecht grants to twelve. See below for more information. 

Vidi-grants 2019

Institutes                                                     Number

Universiteit Utrecht                                             10

Radboud Nijmegen                                                8

Universiteit van Amsterdam                                 7

TU Delft                                                                   7

Universiteit Leiden                                                 5

Wageningen Universiteit                                       5

Erasmus Rotterdam                                              4

Universiteit Maastricht                                         4

VU Amsterdam                                                      4

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen                                  3

TU Eindhoven                                                        2

Universiteit Twente                                               2


Amsterdam UMC                                                  5

Leids UMC                                                             4

Radboud UMC                                                      3

Erasmus mc                                                          2

UMC Utrecht                                                        2

VUmc                                                                    1


Nederlands Kanker Instituut                              3

Spinoza Centre for Neuroimaging                    1

DIFFER                                                                 1

NSCR                                                                    1

Nikhef                                                                  1


Total                                                                 85


The winning Utrecht projects (descriptions NWO) are:

-Birth of a crystal nucleus

Dr. L.C. Filion (f) Soft Condensed Matter and Biophysics Group, Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science, Department of Physics, UU

The transformation from a liquid to a crystal starts with the spontaneous formation of a tiny crystal nucleus. In order to improve our control over this process, the researcher will develop computer algorithms to explore how hidden structure in the liquid can be controlled to guide the nucleation process.  

-Optimized treatment of thrombophlebitis by individualizing risk prediction 
Dr. G.J. (Geert-Jan) Geersing (m), UMCU – University Medical Center Utrecht

Patients with thrombophlebitis (clots in superficial veins) are at risk for clot-progression to deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Doctors currently don’t know in whom this occurs. This project uses general practice databases to individualize risk prediction for clot-growth in thrombophlebitis patients, yielding optimized treatment.

-The behavior of geomagnetic anomalies
Dr. L.V. de Groot (m) Paleomagnetic laboratory, Faculty of Geosciences / dept. Earth Sciences, UU

The Earth’s magnetic field protects us against cosmic radiation that interferes with wireless communication systems. Regional anomalies in the Earth’s magnetic field allow excess radiation to reach the Earth’s surface. How these anomalies evolve through time is enigmatic. I propose to systematically unravel their behaviour for the very first time.

-Self-control or just self-manipulation?
Dr. A. (Annemarie) Kalis – Utrecht University

Most people unfortunately have little willpower. Are nudging and self-manipulation by means of smart tricks, the only strategies left? This project will develop a situated account of self-control, and will show how we can exercise genuine self-control by shaping our own action space.

-Unravelling health inequalities using systems thinking
Dr. C.B.M. (Carlijn) Kamphuis (v), UU

Socioeconomic inequalities in health are striking. How these originate from an interplay between environmental circumstance and individual factors is unravelled using a systems approach. Crucial information to build the system model is acquired by interviews, data analyses, and experiments. The model calculates the potential impact of policies on health inequalities.

-Decoding genetic disease by decoding gene regulation
Dr. K.P. (Kevin) Kenna (m), UMCU – Universitair Medical Center Utrecht

Our genetics determines our susceptibility to a range of diseases. Much of this relates to DNA mutations that disrupt the mechanisms controlling gene activity. This project seeks to develop new methods to identify such DNA mutations and will apply them to discover genetic causes for an incurable neurodegenerative disease (ALS).

-Vector bundles on curved spaces
Dr. M. Kool Mathematical Institute, UU

Manifolds are curved spaces such as the surface of a donut. Vector bundles are linear objects on manifolds, e.g. the collection of tangent planes to a donut. This proposal gives novel applications of \parameter spaces of vector bundles". These have unexpected relations to other fields of mathematics and physics 

-A validity sieve for digital traces
Dr. D.L. (Daniel) Oberski – Utrecht University

Everyone leaves digital traces, which social scientists would like to use to investigate their theories. But discovering valid measurements in this sandstorm of data has proven to be a major obstacle. This project develops innovative statistical methods that work as a validity sieve for digital traces, enabling novel social-scientific research.

-How do mushrooms defend themselves against disease?
Dr. R. A. Ohm (m) UU

Mushrooms can get sick too, just like animals and plants. This is a major problem during the cultivation of edible mushrooms. The aim of this study is to get more insight into the immune system of mushrooms. This will eventually lead to mushrooms that are more resistant to disease.

-What is the impact of climate change on monsoon precipitation?
Dr. F. Peterse (f) Department of Earth Sciences, UU

Climate models predict that global warming will lead to increased monsoon precipitation. However, instrumental records indicate that the strength of the Asian monsoon is actually weakening. The applicant will determine the influence of temperature change on monsoon precipitation based on climate shifts in the past.

-Are you ready? Predicting anxiety reduction in treatment 
Dr. E. (Elske) Salemink – Utrecht University

Anxiety treatments are only effective for roughly half of patients and predicting who will benefit has been largely unsuccessful. I will test individual reactivity signals indicators of readiness for change. This could improve the prediction of anxiety reduction in treatment and guide the development of new interventions.

-ANTICIPLAY: using games to experiment with future-smart governance 
Dr. J.M. (Joost) Vervoort – Utrecht University

The ANTICIPLAY project investigates how people can use games as tools to experiment  with new ways to organize sustainable future societies. Games are specifically suitable for this because they are often made up of ‘rules’ and ‘roles’. ANTICIPLAY researches how game-based experimentation can be connected to present day action.

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