Twelve Veni's for VU en VUmc

The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded Veni funding of 250,000 euros to twelve young VU and VUmc researchers.

07/16/2018 | 12:00 AM

With this Veni they can further develop their own research ideas for three years.

Aysu OkbayPolygenic prediction and its application in social science
With increasing availability of genetic data, it is becoming feasible to investigate the genetics of behavioral traits, and construct genetic predictors with meaningful predictive power. By building a public repository of genetic predictors for major social-science data sets, Aysu Okbay aims to facilitate their use in social science.
Vincent FriebeHacking Photosynthesis: a biosensor for environmental pollutants
In order to sustain our increasing food demand, novel herbicides are constantly being developed in order to improve crop yields. Physicist Vincent Friebe seeks to create an accessible biosensor which is specific and sensitive to herbicides residues found in our ecosystem, drinking water and food.

Pieter Coppens
The roots of Salafi Qur’an interpretation: the commentary of al-Qasimi
Salafi Qur’an interpretations are widely known and distrusted as radical. For societal discussions on Salafism it is therefore important to analyze the roots, growth and dissemination of these interpretations. Pieter Coppens (Islamic Studies) will do so through an in-depth study of the commentary of the Damascene Salafi scholar al-Qasimi (d. 1914 CE).
Ellen DriessenDepression treatment: the best match
People suffering from depression have different treatment options, such as antidepressant medication and various “talk therapies”. However, it is unclear which treatment is most effective for a given person. Clinical psychologist Ellen Driessen will develop a tool to help select the optimal treatment for people with depression based on their personal characteristics.
HoijtinkDeadly Design: The Politics of Engineering Lethal Autonomous Weapons
Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics are radically reshaping war. Political scientist Marijn Hoijtink investigates the development of lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS), or so-called "killer robots," and asks how decisions about who can be killed, when, and with what effects are made by weapon engineers in the design process.
Lieneke Slingenberg
Human rights, non-domination and restrictions on refugees’ free choice of residence
European states increasingly decide where refugees can or cannot live within their territories.  Lieneke Slingenberg (Migration Law) investigates which national, European and international rules and rights apply to these restrictions on freedom and if and how these regulations can provide better protection against domination: the possibility of arbitrary interference.
Nicoletta LigioriThe molecular strategy of plants against sunburn
By discarding the excess absorbed energy (photoprotection), plants avoid photodamage. Protein conformational switches trigger photoprotection. How these switches are regulated is poorly understood. Physicist Nicoletta Liguori will develop a novel ultrafast spectroscopy method and combine it with state-of-the-art molecular dynamics to determine it. 
Kaveh Razavi
How I learned to stop worrying and love unreliable hardware  The semiconductor industry is packing more transistors in silicon to increase performance and capacity of our systems. An unwanted side effect is reliability issues in hardware. Hackers can abuse unreliable hardware to compromise our computing systems. Computer scientist Kaveh Razavi explores new directions for building secure systems out of unreliable hardware components.

Geert Mesters
Testing Networks
Network structures have large implications for aggregate output in economics and financial stability in finance. A key difficulty is that these networks are typically not observed. Econometrist Geert Mesters will develop methodology that facilitates testing different network structures that are estimated from large time series panels.  
Wouter Peyrot
What causes depression?
Depression is a heterogeneous disease whose causes are poorly understood. Recently, new statistical methods were proposed to identify causal factors based on genetic data. Psychiatrist Wouter Peyrot investigates the reliability of these methods, and investigates whether the identified causal factors can aid in identifying clinically relevant patient subgroups.
Birit BroekmanI have a dream: sex-sensitive care in sleep and depression
Insomnia and depression are more common in women than men, but these striking seks differences are not understood. Through two cohort studies and two experimental studies, Birit Broekman of Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc will investigate the sleep-depression link, and how sex steroids influence this relation. The results will inform sex-sensitive interventions for insomnia and depression.
Marianna Bugiani
The blood-brain barrier in Vanishing white matter: filling a knowledge gap
Astrocytes on trial. Genetic white matter disorders destroy the brain white matter and cause handicap and death. Astrocytes (type of brain cells) maintain brain health, but little is known about their role in these disorders. The research of Marianna Bugiani of Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc suggests that astrocytes are central. She will study this in detail.
Veni awards
NWO has awarded Veni to 154 promising young scientists. This gives them the opportunity to further develop their own ideas for three years. Veni is part of NWO's Innovational Research Incentives Scheme: Veni, Vidi, Vici.