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Our research: driven by curiosity

We conduct high-quality and internationally accredited academic research with a focus on collaboration and pushing the boundaries of our knowledge. To ensure that this continues, we also kept academic freedom and curiosity high on our agenda in 2022. In addition to developments in research, in this chapter we focus on the performance of academics at our university.

1. Developments in research

Academic integrity

Radboud University participated in the National Survey on Research Integrity, a nationwide survey on academic integrity among academic staff at Dutch universities. The aim of the survey is to gain a better understanding of the factors that influence the establishment of responsible and irresponsible research practices. Radboud University uses the results of the survey to improve its own policies on academic integrity where necessary. Areas of concern include the supervision and training of PhD candidates, and the findability and easy accessibility of the confidential advisors and the Academic Integrity Committee. In September, the annual academic integrity discussion meeting centred on the theme of power relations.

Signing Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment

On 9 November 2022, Radboud University signed the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment. With this, the university joins an international coalition of knowledge organisations committed to improving the way academic research is assessed and valued. Key principles include recognising diversity in academic work and careers, strengthening the emphasis on quality, and using quantitative forms of research assessment responsibly.

Radboud Data Repository

The Radboud Data Repository (RDR) is an archive for the long-term archiving and public sharing of research data collected, processed or analysed by researchers at Radboud University. The RDR allows researchers to archive data securely (for internal reuse and academic integrity) and/or share it with the scientific community. The RDR is based on the Donders Repository that has been in use at the Donders Institute for several years. Since January 2021, the RDR has been available to all the university’s faculties and institutes that wish to use it. So far, 442 researchers have done so, and there are 305 data collections in the archive.

Radboud Excellence Initiative

The Radboud Excellence Initiative, partly funded by the Reinier Post Foundation, allows excellent international postdocs to work and conduct research in Nijmegen for two years. The initiative also allows renowned senior academics from abroad to conduct research at Radboud University for six months. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many laureates did not come to Nijmegen until this year. The seventeenth selection round was conducted in 2022.

Research assessments

Research institutes at Radboud University are evaluated every six years using the Strategy Evaluation Protocol (SEP). These research assessments examine factors such as the quality and social relevance of the research and the future-proofing of the research institute. Four research assessments were conducted in 2022. These all involved research institutes at the Faculty of Science (FNWI).


The Mathematics department at the Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics and Particle Physics (IMAPP) was assessed as part of the national Mathematics research assessment. The assessment committee’s evaluation was very positive. One of their recommendations was to set clear priorities among the various ambitions and future plans, given the department’s limited size. The committee also recommended that the department continue on its chosen path in terms of gender diversity, collaboration with companies, and the training of PhD candidates.

Institute for Computing and Information Sciences (ICIS)

ICIS participated in a national assessment of Computer Science programmes. The three research themes at ICIS (software, data science and artificial intelligence, security and privacy) received very positive reviews. Among other things, the committee praised the institute’s efforts to link research and social relevance. The assessment committee recommended that the institute be even more attuned to international consortia and grants (e.g. large European Horizon project applications) and be open to new lines of research that will continue to emerge in this rapidly changing research field.

Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM)

The external assessment committee rated the scientific quality of this institute as very high, one of the best in the world. The institute’s social relevance was also assessed positively. The committee concluded that the institute’s chosen themes will also continue to contribute to high-quality scientific research and social relevance in the years to come. The committee’s main recommendation was that IMM should further strengthen its strategy for the coming years so not only individual scientists but also the institute as a whole can build a stronger international reputation. One way to do this is through closer involvement of the Strategic Advisory Board and stakeholders.

Radboud Institute for Biological and Ecological Sciences (RIBES)

Both the research and the social relevance of RIBES received positive assessments. The committee particularly praised the social impact the institute manages to create with its research. The committee recommended that the institute translate its mission into a more concrete strategy for the coming years. They also recommended that strategic steps be taken, especially in the areas of finance, HR and infrastructure. The committee also made a recommendation about the organisation of the institute: it recommended developing institute-wide initiatives with the aim of further strengthening the clusters together.

2. Interdisciplinary collaboration

Research projects with and between disciplines

Given the need to ensure Radboud University’s focus and profile among different target groups, the campus-wide Healthy Brain initiative was launched in 2015. Last year, the Healthy Brain pillar was further strengthened: a quartermaster and a process coordinator were appointed, and a work group with representatives from various faculties and institutes was launched. Across the campus, there is a need to expand to several pillars. In the coming period, it will be examined which pillars should be included and what is needed to achieve this.


The network of the Radboud Centre for Sustainability Challenges now consists of some 220 people. They organise interdisciplinary seminars and sustainability collaborations with each other. One result is that Nijmegen will host the 2023 Earth System Governance conference. Radboud University was also represented at the UN climate summit with some colleagues on site, and several Radboud scientists are involved in the creation of the Netherlands Climate Research Initiative (KIN): Heleen de Coninck as chair and Birka Wicke as committee member.

Academic networks

Researchers at Radboud University are members of Academia Europaea, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Young Academy and several other prestigious institutes.

KNAW members

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) has several positions to which it is an honour to be appointed. KNAW members are selected on the basis of high-quality academic performance, and they are appointed for life. In the Netherlands, KNAW membership is a great accolade for an academic career. The following Radboud researchers were appointed KNAW members in 2022: Maaike van Berkel (Faculty of Arts), and Teun Bousema and Jolanda de Vries (both from Radboud university medical center).

KNAW: The Young Academy

The Young Academy is a dynamic and innovative platform of young top scientists with a vision on science and science policy. They organise inspiring activities for different target audiences in the fields of interdisciplinarity, scientific policy, and science and society. In 2022, young Radboud researcher Rogier Kievit (developmental neuroscience, Radboud University/Radboud university medical center) was appointed a member.

Radboud Young Academy

As of October 2022, the Radboud Young Academy (RJA) includes 30 staff members with PhDs from all faculties and with various positions, including two from the support staff. Members address issues important to academic culture (including recognition and rewards, open science and work-life balance). Members have also started planning activities that encourage interdisciplinary collaborations.

Reforming Research Assessment

On 9 November, Radboud University signed the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment. With this, the university joins an international coalition of knowledge organisations committed to improving the way academic research is assessed and valued.

3. Honours and grants for Radboud scholars

Researchers from the university and Radboud university medical center continued to benefit from grants from the European Research Council and the Dutch Research Council (NWO) Talent Programme in 2022.

Spinoza Prize and Stevin Prize

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) awards the annual Spinoza Prize and Stevin Prize, which are the most important scientific prizes in the Netherlands. The Spinoza Prize goes to scientific breakthroughs, while the Stevin Prize is for research and researchers with significant societal impact.

Klaas Landsman – Spinoza Prize (2022)

Klaas Landsman is Professor of Mathematical Physics at Radboud University in Nijmegen. His unique work combines research at the interface between mathematics and physics with deep insights into the foundations, history and philosophy of physics. The interdisciplinary nature of his work is innovative and represents a breakthrough in collaboration between widely diverse fields.

Bas Bloem – Stevin Prize (2022)

Bas Bloem is Professor of Neurological Movement Disorders at Radboud university medical center and is the world’s leading expert on Parkinson’s disease. He developed ParkinsonNet, the nationally and internationally renowned care model for people with this chronic disease. He is a creative thinker, maintains an impressive international network, insists on patient participation, exhorts politicians and policymakers to action, and collaborates with technology companies to develop innovative products that improve Parkinson’s care.

Personal talent grants

ERC Advanced Grants

ERC Advanced Grants are awarded to experienced researchers. The amounts vary per proposal and are around €2.5 million. They are usually awarded for a period of five years. Four grants were awarded to Radboud researchers in 2022:

  • Ivan Toni: ‘Mindsharing’ with gestures

  • Roshan Cools: Cognitive control of behaviour

  • Peter Friedl: New cancer therapy with sublethal hits

  • Alexey Kimel: Ultra-fast and energy-efficient data storage

ERC Consolidator Grants

ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to mid-career researchers. The amounts vary per proposal and are around €2 million. They are usually awarded for a period of five years. Three grants were awarded to Radboud researchers in 2022:

  • Kristin Lemhöfer: Learning a second language

  • Daniela Wilson: Nano carriers to transport medicines

  • Andrea Hermann: The gig economy

ERC Starting Grants

Eight Radboud University scientists were awarded Starting Grants from the European Research Council (ERC) in December. They all received the prestigious Early Career Award from the European Commission. The ERC Starting Grants help young researchers build their own research groups. The grants can be worth up to €1.5 million per project.

  • Maike Hansen: Nature of intracellular stochastic events

  • Anne-Sophie Hafner: Cracking the synaptic memory code

  • Dmytro Afanasiev: Antiferromagnetic spin transport

  • Graziana Ciola: The roots of complex mathematics

  • Luke Miller: The body positioning system

  • Tessa Lansu: Bullying behaviour

  • Nils Jansen: Data-driven verification and learning

  • Jeroen de Baaij (Radboud university medical center)

ERC Synergy

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a €14 million Synergy Grant to a team of Dutch, British, Finnish and Namibian astronomers to make colour images of black holes. They will build the first-ever African millimetre-wave radio telescope in Namibia to achieve their goal.

  • PI for Radboud University: Heino Falcke (Faculty of Science)

ERC Proof of Concept

The ERC Proof of Concept allows researchers who have already received an ERC grant to explore the commercial and societal potential of that ERC research. Three Radboud researchers received these in 2022:

  • Thomas Boltje: Development of carbohydrate-based anti-cancer agents

  • Wilhelm Huck: Commercial feasibility of a cell-free reactor setup for optimisation of complex enzymatic pathways

  • Martijn Verdoes: C- and N-terminal epitope conjugate immune cell targeted vaccines

NWO Talent Programme: Vici, Vidi, Veni

The Talent Programme from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) has three tiers. The highest is the Vici grant (€1.5 million), which helps very experienced researchers (usually professors) continue developing an innovative line of research. For mid-career talents, there is the Vidi programme. And the Veni grant is aimed at promising early-career scientists. The results for our university in 2022: four Vici grants, eight Vidi grants and five Veni grants (only the Veni grants awarded in the social and behavioural sciences domain have been announced so far).

Vici grants

  • Alexander Khajetoorians: What can we learn from atoms?

  • Brigitte Adriaensen: Changing perspectives on drugs in Latin America (1820-2020)

  • Erno Hermans: Increasing resilience to stress

  • I. Sechopoulos: Improving breast cancer diagnostics

Vidi grants

  • Peter Korevaar: Molecular information processing in self-organising networks

  • Aafke Schipper: How do we guide freshwater fish safely through the Anthropocene?

  • Jasper de Groot: Something is in the air! Our chemistry exposed

  • Lie Fu: Universal invariants in Calabi-Yau geometry

  • Fleur Zeldenrust: How does our internal state influence our perception?

  • Martin Vinck: How do neurons predict the future?

  • Felix Hol (Radboud university medical center)

  • Jeroen de Baaij (Radboud university medical center)

Veni grants (only in the social and behavioural sciences)

  • Stéfanie André: Fathers combining work and care

  • Erika van Elsas: Neutral ground or disputed territory? Public perceptions of bias in non-partisan institutions

  • Imme Lammerink: When language does not come naturally

  • Nora Stel: The power of inertia and ambivalence in transnational refugee governance: EU actors and the contested return of Syrian refugees from Lebanon and Turkey

  • Joris van den Tol: The makers of the economic Golden Age

National Growth Fund

The National Growth Fund (Groeifonds) is an investment fund of the Dutch government. It aims to strengthen the sustainable earning capacity of the Netherlands through the creation of large innovative programmes and projects that ensure long-term economic growth. Radboud University has secured two prestigious growth fund projects: the National Education Lab AI (NOLAI), led by Inge Molenaar, and Robotlab: The Revolution of Intelligent Molecular Systems, led by Wilhelm Huck.

NOLAI – Inge Molenaar

In 2022, the National Education Lab AI (NOLAI) received an €80 million grant for the development of intelligent digital educational innovations (with educational and scientific institutions and the business world) focused on improving the quality of primary and secondary education. This will have pedagogical, societal and social consequences.

Robotlab: The Revolution of Intelligent Molecular Systems – Wilhelm Huck

The consortium led by Wilhelm Huck received a €97 million grant to set up a new research programme that aims to build a revolutionary robot lab that combines chemistry and artificial intelligence (AI) and that will enrich the scientific infrastructure for chemistry in the Netherlands. In addition to Radboud University, the consortium includes members from the University of Groningen, Eindhoven University of Technology and Fontys University of Applied Sciences.

Ammodo Science Award

With Tamar Sharon as applicant, the iHub received the 2022 Ammodo Team Science Award for ground-breaking research. The award was presented at a festive ceremony at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, and it comes with a cash prize of €1.2 million.

Gravitation grants

The Dutch Brain Interfaces Initiative, led by Francesco Battaglia, received €21.9 million. In order to understand how the brain works, we need to understand how each part – from neurons to brain regions – relates to the rest of the brain and to the outside world. The aim of this research is to develop principles, equipment and methods to consider these interactions and thus gain a better understanding of brain disorders, as well as moods, emotions and compulsions. In addition, researchers from Radboud University and Radboud university medical center are involved in ‘Materials for the quantum age’ (with Utrecht University as consortium leader; Radboud University participants are Misha Katsnelson, Alexey Kimel and Alex Khajetoorians), ‘Growing up together’ (with Erasmus as consortium leader; several researchers from Radboud university medical center are involved in the project), and ‘Imagine’ (with Utrecht University as consortium leader; Radboud university medical center participants are Maaike van Berkel, Teun Bousema, Jolanda de Vries, Peter Friedl, Annemiek van Spriel, and Martijn Verdoes). The aim of the research into materials for the quantum age is to provide new materials with stable quantum states that will greatly increase the power of existing ways of processing information while at the same time making them more energy efficient. The ‘Growing up together’ project integrates neuroscience with individual and environmental factors in sophisticated models that have both explanatory and predictive value for adolescents and young adults. The ‘Imagine’ programme brings together biologists and technology developers to study and manipulate cells in both healthy and diseased tissue. It will provide significant knowledge and tools for regenerative medicine, disease treatment and repurposing existing drugs.

Radboud Team Science Award

Scientific achievements are often achieved through a team effort. With the Radboud Team Science Award, presented for the first time last year, the Executive Board wants to recognise these team achievements. Two teams received the award: ‘Medicine for People with Intellectual Disabilities’ and ‘Substance Use, Addiction & Food’. The criteria were cooperation, diversity, and performance. The Radboud Team Science Award will be presented again next year.