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5. Together with our partners: Roman Limes, electron lasers and smarter justice

Our strong networks and top-class facilities make Radboud University an attractive research partner. We would like to highlight three of our numerous collaborations: 1) the improved visibility of Nijmegen’s Roman past, 2) the collaboration between Nijmegen and Berlin that led to a new Max Planck centre, and 3) the new plans for smarter administration of justice within the Sector Plan for Law.

Making Nijmegen’s Roman roots more visible

The appointment of Stephan Mols to special chair in the History of Nijmegen  this year will stimulate research on the Roman Limes at the Faculty of Arts. The special chair was made possible in part by the Municipality of Nijmegen.

As part of the chair, Mols and his colleagues will research Nijmegen’s role in Roman times, particularly in strengthening and preserving the Roman Empire's national border. Mols: “I want to work with the Municipality of Nijmegen to publish the results of earlier excavations, with a focus on the unpublished parts of Ulpia Noviomagus in Nijmegen West, which were excavated in the 1990s.”

The chair is important to the municipality because of the link between the city and the university and the branding of Nijmegen as the oldest city in the Netherlands. Alderman Noël Vergunst: “With the chair’s focus on Roman Nijmegen and the Limes, we hope to promote even more awareness and enthusiasm for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Roman Limes.”

Max Planck Centre advances free-electron laser research

The HFML-FELIX Laboratory at Radboud University and Fritz-Haber Institute (FHI) of the Max Planck Gesellschaft in Berlin joined forces in the newly established Max Planck-Radboud University Centre for Infrared Free-Electron Laser Spectroscopy. The collaboration will encourage active exchange of knowledge and researchers, and it will advance the application and development of free-electron lasers.

Both laboratories in the new Max Planck Centre (MPC) have an infrared free-electron laser (FEL), only a few of which exist in the world. FELs emit intense radiation in a wide and continuously tuneable fraction of the infrared and terahertz frequency range. This makes these devices especially useful for unravelling the structure of molecules and materials at the quantum-mechanical level.

The partners in this new MPC aim to advance the technology and applications of infrared FELs with a wide range of applications in multiple research fields (medicine, chemistry, astrophysics or biochemistry). For example, the technique can be used to obtain data on molecules that may exist in the universe, to map chemical reactions by characterising intermediates, or to identify small quantities of molecules in blood as biomarkers for diseases.

The new MPC will support approximately 20 PhD candidates and postdocs in both laboratories. It will create a platform for the exchange of knowledge and researchers to develop new scientific ideas.

In an MPC, one or more German Max Planck Institutes collaborate with a research institute outside of Germany. Currently, there are 23 MPCs which, to a large extent, embody the international policy of the Max Planck Gesellschaft. MPCs are established for five years with a possible extension of another five years.

Together with HAN: NWO Team Science Award winner

The National Individual Floating Transport Infrastructure (NIFTI) collaborative project to develop a new floating transport system has won the Team Science Award from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The project is being carried out by Radboud University and HAN University of Applied Sciences. Each year, NWO awards the €10,000 prize to projects that take on a scientific challenge.

A team of 13 scientists and 34 students from Radboud University and HAN work on the project. The goal is to develop a floating transport system that enables people to travel in a more sustainable, flexible and efficient way. The Team Science Award jury appreciates the project’s interdisciplinary character and the strong student involvement, which offer excellent opportunities for talent development.

Sector Plan for Law: Digitisation and relief for judges

Radboud University used funds from the Sector Plan for Law to strengthen two new teams in 2021. The first team – part of the Conflict Resolution Institutions sector field – conducts research on unburdening judges. A new team in Nijmegen (one professor, two lecturers and five PhD candidates) is working with researchers from Leiden to determine whether the role of the judge needs to be strengthened. Alternatives, such as mediators, are also being examined to see whether they can take over the judge's duties in a way that is responsible from a rule of law perspective.

Second, the Nijmegen law faculty is part of a new team working on Digital Conflict Resolution that studies the regulation of technological developments. The two fields mentioned are two of the six subjects that the ten Dutch faculties have named as strategic principles for leading international legal research. The other fields are Empirical Legal Studies (the impact of law in society), Globalisation in Law and Reassessing Public Interest in Private Relationships.

Earlier, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science supported the studies from the Sector Plan with additional funds, some of which Radboud University used to appoint Marijke ter Voert in 2020. As Professor of Empirical Legal Studies, she plays a key role in the two strategic principles rolled out in 2021. In the Conflict Resolution Institutions sector, she focuses on the role of the judge. She studies the relationship between the judiciary and non-judicial forms of dispute resolution, the legitimacy and quality of the judiciary and the use of digital technologies in conflict resolution.