Skip to website navigation Skip to article navigation Skip to content

5. Of (Internationally) Recognised Quality

A Collection of Interesting Publications

Mathematician Walter van Suijlekom made a significant breakthrough in 2020 with a publication in which he undermined a principle that had been valid for decades: the 1992 proof that showed it is impossible to deduce the shape of a drum from its sound. Together with his French colleague Alain Connes, he is the first mathematician who can hear what something looks like, wrote the NRC newspaper.

Other notable publications in 2020:

Two Honorary Doctorates

Two honorary doctorates were awarded at the opening of the academic year. The first went to Souha Kanj (1963), a professor and physician of internal medicine and head of the Infectious Diseases Department at the American University of Beirut Medical Center in Lebanon. She specialises in infection prevention, fungal infections and antimicrobial resistance. The honorary doctorate was awarded to her by Heiman Wertheim, Professor of Medical Microbiology. 

The second honorary doctor is Karl-Henrik Robèrt (1947), who started his career as an oncologist but has increasingly focused on sustainability issues. He developed the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development, a measurable sustainability strategy that is applied worldwide. The honorary doctorate was awarded to him by Rector Han van Krieken.

Newly Appointed Members of KNAW

Bas Bloem, Olivier Hekster, Bart Jacobs, Lotte Jensen and Karin Roelofs are newly elected members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Members of KNAW are distinguished scholars from all disciplines and are elected based on nominations by colleagues within and outside the academy.

The Young Academy gained ten new members, two of whom are from Radboud University: historian Shari Boodts and Professor of Empirical Political Science Carolien van Ham. The Young Academy includes researchers and scholars from various disciplines who have proven themselves academically and received their doctorates less than ten years before their appointment to the academy. During their five-year membership, they advocate for scholarship, science policy and science communication.

Grants from the European Research Council

Radboud University scores above average when it comes to obtaining large European and national grants. Professor Arno Kentgens and science sociologist Willem Halffman (both at the Faculty of Science) were each awarded ERC Synergy Grants worth €6 million for collaborative international projects.

Radboud University scored above average when it comes to obtaining large European and national grants.

Halffman will work with French colleagues to study instability in scientific debate, especially concerning claims made by nanobiologists. Their research deals with precise ways of channelling drugs through the bloodstream, which threatens to be undermined by criticism of the veracity of the claims. Halffman and his consortium will investigate why this is the case.

Arno Kentgens’ team is working on a new technique to relate drugs more quickly to disease-related proteins. With the current method, it takes a very long time to scan large numbers of potential drugs as candidates for the treatment of a particular disease.

Physicist Nadine Hauptmann and behavioural scientist Inge Molenaar were each awarded ERC Starting Grants, worth up to €1.5 million per project. Floris de Lange, André Marquand and Sonia Vernes were each awarded ERC Consolidator Grants, which can amount up to €2 million per project.

NWO Grants

Seven scientists – four from Radboud University and three from Radboud university medical center – each received a €1.5 million Vici grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to fund five years of research and establish their own research groups. NWO awarded 32 Vici grants in 2020. For an overview of grants awarded to Radboud researchers, see this link.

One of the Nijmegen awardees was Sabine Hunnius, Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, director of the Baby and Child Research Center and head of the BabyBRAIN group at the Donders Institute. She will investigate the role curiosity plays in child development.

Nine more researchers from the university and Radboud university medical center were awarded Vidi grants. Each Vidi is worth €800,000 and intended to allow young researchers to start their own research groups. Grant winners are also given or are in the process of being given permanent positions. One Vidi went to Niels Spierings (Sociology), for research into the relationship between the religious experience of Muslims and their involvement in politics.

Fourteen young scholars from Radboud University, Radboud university medical center and the Max Planck Institute received Veni grants. Each Veni is worth €250,000 and is intended for young researchers (up to three years post PhD defence) who are just starting their careers. One of them is biologist Mandy Velthuis, who will research CO2 storage in lakes.

Researchers from the university and Radboud university medical center are also involved in four research projects that each received a Large Investment Grant from NWO’s Science (ENW) domain. These grants, totalling over €47 million, are intended for consortia in which research groups collaborate in independent fundamental research driven by curiosity. A total of 20 research proposals have been honoured within the framework of the ENW Large Investment programme.

Dutch Research Agenda

A living lab in the area around the Ooijpolder and Groesbeek received a grant from the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) programme. In total, more than €4.3 million has been made available for three of these consortia of knowledge institutions and social organisations, which will investigate the possibilities for biodiversity restoration at various locations around the country. In addition to the Ooijpolder, living labs in the peat meadow area of the Alblasserwaard and in the dune and bulb-growing region of South Holland have also been awarded funds. The three projects will be merged into one large whole under the auspices of the Delta Plan for Biodiversity Restoration and in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. The research will start in early 2021.

The project in the Ooijpolder is led by Radboud professor Hans de Kroon. This area has already been successfully experimenting with new forms of biodiversity restoration for 25 years. That makes the polder an example for other areas. Together with the parties involved, the researchers are searching for new earning models and collaborations to prolong and scale up the existing successes.

Within the NWA, another eight projects involving Radboud scientists have also been awarded funding from the Research along Routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC) programme. Researchers from the university and Radboud university medical center, together with colleagues from other institutions, conduct interdisciplinary research aimed at scientific and societal breakthroughs. An example is the research with Tilburg University on strengthening representative democracy through resilient communities.

European Regional Development Fund

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has awarded a large grant to a language technology project with two components:  one that helps children with a language deficiency and another that helps identify cognitive decline in the elderly. The Centre for Language and Speech Technology (CLST; Faculty of Arts) plays an important role in this project. This collaboration with the companies Virtual Assistant BV (Virtask) and 8D Games underlines the innovative climate of the eastern Netherlands, especially in the field of language and speech technology.

Altogether, the project received a grant worth more than €1.7 million. The CLST will use these funds to develop high-quality speech technology for the Digi Juf (‘Digi Teacher’) product from 8D Games, which teaches children with a language deficiency to read better. Technology will also be supplied to Anne4Care, Virtask’s virtual care assistant for the elderly.