Radboud University: Vidi-grants for research into freshwater fish, geometry, our sense of smell and more

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded eight researchers from Nijmegen a Vidi grant of 800,000 euros. This will allow them to develop an innovative line of research and build up their own research group for the next five years.

Vidi is aimed at excellent researchers who have been producing successful research for a number of years since obtaining their PhD. Together with Veni and Vici, Vidi is part of the NWO Talent Programme. A total of 625 researchers submitted an admissible research project for funding during this Vidi funding round. 101 grants were approved in this round, with the following eight researchers from Radboud University and Radboudumc.

Do malaria parasites enhance their own transmission?
Felix Hol, Radboudumc

Unfortunately, mosquitoes are extremely good at spreading disease by biting people and transmitting parasites. However, we do not know if parasites make mosquitoes even more hungry for blood, and once in our body it is unclear how the parasite finds its way to the bloodstream. By developing new technologies, this research will unravel how interactions between mosquitoes and parasites shape malaria transmission.

Molecular information processing in self-organized networks
Peter Korevaar, Radboud University

Living matter is entirely driven by chemistry, and acts as a “chemical computer” where chemical signals are exchanged and processed to direct the spontaneous build‐up of organisms. In synthetic materials, this enables fundamentally new potential where functions – motion, growth, shape‐transformation – are directed via molecular information processing, rather than traditional electronics. The researchers will demonstrate this principle in networks of self‐assembling wires, which spontaneously grow, transfer chemical signals between sender and receiver agents and thereby – via a cascade of input‐output steps – direct the self‐organization of patterns. This might lead to e.g. neuromorphic sensors or self‐adapting lab‐on‐a‐chip applications.

Towards a better Anthropocene for freshwater fish
Aafke Schipper, Radboud University

The global diversity of freshwater fish species is threatened by a variety of human pressures, including global warming, land use, chemical pollution and habitat fragmentation. This project aims to analyse the cumulative impacts of these pressures and evaluate the effectiveness of large-scale conservation measures based on a new global model of freshwater fish diversity.

There’s something in the air! Our chemistry uncovered
Jasper de Groot, Radboud University

How can we explain the chemistry between us? Our sense of smell is a mysterious and delicate sense. In this project the researchers will discover the actual molecules that cause us to take over another person’s emotions like fear. How smells contribute to intimacy and safety within our romantic relationships will also be uncovered. And how strongly does (long-during) smell loss, like we have seen with COVID-19, the quality of our relationships and of our own life? These are uncharted territories that are relevant now because they directly impact the life quality of people longing for more scientific knowledge and recognition.

Investigating Metabolic And Genetic Electrolyte disturbances in THE KIDNEY (IMAGE-the-KIDNEY)
Jeroen de Baaij, Radboudumc

Patients with type 2 diabetes and patients with rare DNA mutations develop magnesium deficiencies because they lose too much magnesium in the urine. This research will develop of new kidney cells models and imaging methods to measure magnesium reabsorption in cells and animals. These innovative approaches will allow to increase our understanding of the disease and will allow to test new therapeutics.

Universal invariants in Calabi-Yau geometry
Lie Fu, Radboud University

As an attempt to reconcile the theoretic incoherence between Quantum Mechanics and Einstein’s General Relativity, certain physicists model our universe as a 10-dimensional geometric object with 4 empirically observable dimensions consisting of space and time, together with 6 additional “hidden” dimensions that are controlled by the so-call Calabi–Yau threefolds in mathematics. This project proposes to study such Calabi–Yau geometric objects in arbitrary dimensions, from the point of view of universal invariants in algebraic geometry.

How does our internal state influence perception?
Fleur Zeldenrust, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour

We perceive the world through the activity of networks of brain cells. Perception is an active process. To perceive the world, the brain adapts constantly to our position in and expectations of the world, but also to our internal states such as arousal, attention and uncertainty. This is done through substances called neuromodulators. The researchers will study how these neuromodulators affect the activity of single brain cells and networks of those, in order to understand how perception is performed by networks of brain cells, and how this is influenced by these neuromodulators.

How do neurons predict the future?
Martin Vinck, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour

How do brain cells predict the future? We will use multiple fine electrodes to record from large neuronal ensembles in multiple brain areas simultaneously and study how these neurons predict future motion trajectories. We will study how predictive processing results from interactions between brain areas and different cell types.