Laureates KNAW Early Career Award 2021

Donya Alinejad

Assistant professor in Digital Media and Society, Utrecht University

Donya is interested in the influence of digital media on social processes. She is currently investigating how social media affects the interaction between scientists and the public around such issues as climate change and Covid-19. Her aim is to combine qualitative research on user experience with analyses of large-scale platform data and criticism of platform systems, whether in individual or collaborative projects. She is particularly interested in what research into social media can teach us about how contemporary societies value scientific knowledge.

Stefan Barakat

Assistant professor and junior doctor/specialist registrar at Erasmus Medical Center

What is the role of genetics and the non-coding genome on neurodevelopment disorders? This question is at the heart of Stefan Barakat’s research. As a physician and researcher, he builds bridges between patient care and basic research. His own research group is working on disease modelling for new genetic disorders and is developing new technology to better understand the influence of gene variants beyond the protein-coding genes. His research, for which he has entered into impressive international alliances, contributes to our knowledge of brain disorders and to the development of new therapeutic approaches. 

Chiara Beneduce

Postdoctoral researcher in the History of Philosophy, Radboud University

Chiara Beneduce’s research focuses on the relationship between natural philosophy and medicine in late medieval thought. Against this background, she sheds light on unknown aspects of medieval conceptions of the body, especially as far as theories of generation and sense-perception are concerned. Beneduce paired her expertise in the history of philosophy and science with an interest in contemporary philosophy of science. Her combined study of pre-modern medical theories and present-day issues in the philosophy of medicine inspires her research agenda.

Martine Hoogman

Junior principal investigator, Radboud University Medical Center

Martine Hoogman became inspired when the Association of ADHD Patients called on researchers to focus more on the potentially positive aspects of ADHD, for example creativity. It is her ambition to contribute to a more complete picture of neurobiological disorders such as ADHD and autism by studying their positive aspects, in the hope that this will lead to improvements for people with such disorders, for example in their self-image, employment participation and quality of life. Hoogman is also at the head of a major international collaborative project aimed at investigating the neurobiology of ADHD. 

Kim Kampen

Assistant professor, Maastricht UMC+, Department of Radiotherapy Maastricht University

Kim Kampen investigates differences in consumption patterns between normal cells and cancer cells. This knowledge can then be used to search for drugs that specifically limit a cancer cell’s ‘appetite’, thus inhibiting their growth and making them less resistant to treatment. This is a more efficient way to slow cancer and target it more specifically while limiting the damage to normal cells.

Jonathan Mijs

Postdoctoral researcher sociology, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Why is the growth of economic inequality accompanied by a growing belief in meritocracy? In his comparative research, Jonathan Mijs seeks an answer by analysing public perceptions of inequality in the Netherlands and the United States. He does this using an innovative combination of qualitative and quantitative research (including deliberative focus groups and survey experiments). These methods allow him to trace how people learn about inequality through the news, online and in their social environment, and what causes them to change their minds.

Tessa Quax

Associate professor of Biology of Archaea and Viruses, University of Groningen

Tessa Quax is intrigued by the diversity and evolution of viruses. She studies the mechanisms by which viruses infect microorganisms called archaea. Archaea are single-celled organisms found in the most disparate places in the world. They grow in hot springs, in salt lakes, and in the human intestine. Her research contributes to a better understanding of the role of viruses in nature and their effect on the evolution of single-celled organisms. Quax is a pioneer in this field and seeks to connect virologists who study micro-organisms through her positions in various international professional associations. 

Alberto Ravagnani

Assistant professor of Coding Theory, Eindhoven University of Technology

Alberto Ravagnani studies the mathematical theory of error-correcting codes, objects that make digital data resistant to noise and interference and that have applications ranging from satellite communications to video streaming. The main challenge in coding theory is to increase the correction capability of a code without lowering the transmission rate. Ravagnani’s research focuses on the connection between problems in coding theory and fundamental questions in combinatorics and algebra. For example, he studies how graph theory and combinatorial geometry can be used to establish the existence of codes with good error correction properties. 

Jorien Treur

Assistant professor of Genetics and Psychiatry, Amsterdam University Medical Centers

People who smoke cigarettes, consume excessive quantities of alcohol, or use cannabis are more likely than average to be depressed, bipolar or have a psychotic disorder. Why is that? This is the question that Jorien Treur examines in her research. Treur uses innovative genetic research techniques to identify cause and effect. She also focuses on new therapies, for example computer-based cognitive training that can help people stop addictive behaviours. Treur’s aim is to improve the treatment of mental health problems and prevent them from arising in the first place.

Lukas M. Verburgt

Individual fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) & guest researcher at Institute for Philosophy, Leiden University

Lukas Verburgt is a multitalented researcher whose field of expertise is the history of science and philosophy. His research focuses on shifts in the way scientists and philosophers define the nature and limits of their discipline and what this says about how they imagine its past and future. He is also interested in the role of the unknowable: what is regarded as scientifically or philosophically unknowable, and how does this relate to notions of what constitutes good science or philosophy and the mutual relationship between these disciplines?  

Marthe Walvoort

Associate professor of Chemical Glycobiology, University of Groningen

Marthe Walvoort is an expert on sugar molecules. She and her team of young researchers focus on the sugars in breast milk with the aim of discovering which ones contribute to the healthy development of babies. Her innovative approach is producing new insights into the functioning of these ‘healthy’ sugars. She is also intrigued by the sugars made by pathogenic bacteria. By identifying these sugars, Walvoort is helping to develop a new strategy for preventing bacterial infections.

Lachezar Yanev

Assistant professor of International Criminal Law, VU Amsterdam

Lachezar Yanev has conducted pioneering research on the various forms of criminal responsibility developed by the international courts and tribunals. In his PhD dissertation, he constructed a novel legal framework for the concept of co-perpetration responsibility in international law. At the same time, Yanev is also examining the laws and legal standards that domestic courts in the Netherlands (and other states) apply when exercising universal jurisdiction to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.