On 12 February 2015, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) announced the winners of its prestigious VICI grants. Martijn Bezemer of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) was one of the recipients. Academy member Eveline Crone also received a grant, as did Femius Koenderink and Dolf Weijers of The Young Academy. Young Academy alumni Oscar Gelderblom, Amina Helmi and Lieven Vandersypen have also all received VICI grants.
The prestigious grants, each worth EUR 1.5 million, are awarded annually by the NWO. The purpose of the grant is to support recipients in their research over the next five years and to assist them in building their own research group.
Martijn Bezemer, NIOO-KNAW – Ecology
Plants have a huge impact on the soil in which they grow. The changes that a plant brings about in the soil community can persist even after the plant itself has died. Our research explores how such plant-soil legacies affect other plants and insects, and how these effects can be used to restore ecosystems.
The neural signature of self-concept development in adolescence
Eveline Crone, Leiden University – Developmental psychology
Adolescents’ self-image is constantly changing, making them extraordinarily sensitive to the opinions of others. At times, that sensitivity can hamper their social development. New brain research has shown that various aspects of self-image are discernible in the brain. We are studying how these areas develop in adolescence.
Hybrid nanophotonic architectures for ultrafast quantum optics
Femius Koenderink, FOM/AMOLF – Nanophysics/technology
The fact that a single molecule can emit, absorb or deflect a single particle of light forms the basis for how we observe and illuminate our world and how we send each other classically-encrypted or quantum-encrypted information. A hybrid of light-receiving micro-cavities and nano-scale light-emitting radio antennae should enable the ultrafast, ultra-efficient transmission of single-photon packets over unprecedented bandwidths.
The biochemical and evolutionary basis of specificity in plant hormone responses
Dolf Weijers, Wageningen University and Research Centre - Plant science
The hormone auxin controls a large number of different growth processes and therefore plays a vital role in plant development. By studying the structure, approach and evolution of a family of gene switches, we will try to determine how this multi-functionality works and how it arose.
The Dynamics of Inclusive Finance in the Netherlands, 1750-1970
Oscar Gelderblom, Utrecht University – Social and economic history
Societies are better off when companies are able to make payments, borrow and save money, and insure themselves at low cost. But that is not as easy as it seems. We are investigating the financing behaviour of Dutch SMEs since 1750 to determine the role that banks, governments and entrepreneurs have played.
Galactic Archaeology in the Gaia era
Amina Helmi, University of Groningen – Astronomy, astrophysics
Over the next five years, the European Gaia satellite will allow us to unravel how the Milky Way evolved. Gaia will help us trace the remains of our galaxy’s building blocks so that we can reconstruct how it was formed and study its mass distribution in detail.
Quantum simulation on a chip
Lieven Vandersypen, Delft University of Technology – Nanophysics/technology
Materials and molecules rapidly become too complex to calculate on computers. We intend to simulate and measure complex materials and molecules in the lab using nanotechnology. We hope to gain new insights that can lead to better medicines and cleaner technology.