Eight talented researchers receive a Veni grant

Good news for eight researchers of Erasmus University Rotterdam who have recently obtained their doctorate. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded them a Veni grant worth up to 250,000 euros. The Veni grant provides highly promising young scientists with the opportunity to further elaborate their own ideas during a period of three years.

The Veni laureates will conduct research on a variety of subjects, such as the connections between love and sex in youths’ intimate relationships, treatment of cancer cells, balance, self-control and heart attacks. The winners of Erasmus University in alphabetical order, and a description of their research: 

New brain connections
Dr. H.J. (Henk-Jan) Boele, Erasmus MC - Neurosciences
“Our brain, and in broader terms our nervous system, has an enormous adaptability (neuroplasticity). For this Veni-proposal, I want to investigate the biological processes of this brain adaptability. The gained knowledge about these processes is severely needed for the treatment of brain diseases as a result of degeneration or injury.”

Lovely sex or sexy love?

Dr. D. (Daphne) van de Bongardt, Faculty of Social Sciences – Department of Psychology, Education & Child
“This project investigates bidirectional links between love and sex in youths’ intimate relationships. Young couples (18-25 years) will be interviewed, complete daily diaries, and perform interaction tasks with best friends, to assess how positive and negative experiences with peers, love, and sex are connected, and linked with their general wellbeing.”

Identification, Isolation and Analysis of Single Cancer Stem Cells
Dr. M.P. (Miao-Ping) Chien, Erasmus MC – Biophysics
“To understand the molecular mechanisms driving oncogenesis it is imperative to study individual cells. I will create and use optical and chemical methods for the identification, isolation and analysis of single cancer stem cells, and investigate their role in the formation, progression and therapeutic resistance of tumors.”

Unravelling the brain’s internal sensory and motor models of standing
Dr. P.A. (Patrick) Forbes, Erasmus MC, Department of Neuroscience
“How is balance maintained automatically? Our brain uses internal sensory and motor models to control posture. Using novel robotics, these models will be uncoupled by modifying properties of our sensors, body mechanics and environment. This research will reveal causal relationships between the neural computations and compensatory responses required to stand.”

Extracting more information from high-frequency data: Looking for signs of direction through Realized Semicovariances

Dr. R. (Rogier) Quaedvlieg, Erasmus School of Economics  - Department of Business Economics

“The covariance captures the degree to which asset returns move together. This project decomposes the covariance into four terms; the covariance stemming from joint upward returns, joint downward returns, and two coming from returns with opposite signs. It investigates their theoretical and practical properties, which will provide new economic insights.”

Self-Control without the Self: The Numerical Aggregation System and Overconsumption

D.R. (Dan) Schley, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) - Marketing Management

“People’s lives involve struggling with self-control. The trouble is that self-control requires a lot of motivation. This project researches a key component of self-control that does not rely on peoples’ motivations. By understanding the cognitive mechanisms underlying self-control, we can develop tools to improve individuals’ financial, health, and environmental decisions.”

Fatal first impressions?
Dr. K.M. (Karen) Stegers-Jager, Erasmus MC - iMERR
“Within a split second assessors form a first impression of a trainee. How does this first impression influence the final rating? Is this the reason for poorer ratings for ethnic minority trainees? Unravelling this judgment process is essential for fair assessments for all students in our multicultural society.”

New imaging technique sees the heart attack before it happens
Dr. T. (Tianshi) Wang, Erasmus MC, Biomedical Engineering
Most heart attacks and strokes are caused by the rupture of lipid-core atherosclerotic plaques in the artery wall. Seeing the heart attack before it happens may potentially save millions of lives. Dr. Wang is developing a new technique named thermo-elastic deformation imaging, targeting early detection of the lipid-core plaques.

About the Veni
The Veni is awarded by NWO every year. Veni is part of NWO’s Talent Scheme. Veni is aimed at excellent researchers who have recently obtained their doctorate.

A total of 1,127 researchers submitted an admissible research project for funding. 154 of these have now been granted. The submissions were assessed by means of peer review by external experts from the disciplines concerned. In this Veni funding round, NWO is investing a total of 38,3 million euros in free and curiosity-driven research. 


Publication date: 28 July 2017


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