The ins and outs of hacking

In Culture
Friday, 21 October 2016 07:40

What do you think of when you imagine a hacker? A solitary, nerdy guy in his mid-30s breaking into a computer system? Or the Guy Fawkes mask, the symbol of the ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous? Reality turns out to be much more nuanced, as we learn from assistant professor of Digital Culture Annika Richterich.

Sisters doing what they love

In Culture
Thursday, 16 June 2016 00:00

Valentina and Mariana Mazzucato are both leading scholars in their fields of research: migration and the economics of innovation, respectively. Valentina, professor at Maastricht University, recently received the 500th prestigious Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC), while Mariana, professor at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, gained worldwide acclaim with her latest book The Entrepreneurial State. Judging by these sisters, if there’s a key to success, it’s enthusiasm.

“I enjoy problems I don’t understand”

In Mind
Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00

Given the opportunity to trade in Tilburg for Maastricht University (UM), she said ‘yes’ in a heartbeat. “Think on it? What does that mean? Taking a walk in the woods to do some soul-searching? That’s not my style. I make decisions quickly and rarely regret them afterwards. We all like to pretend we make rational, conscious decisions, but we should have faith in our subconscious.”

If a Dutch person is suspected of theft in Poland then he or she is automatically put on an aeroplane to Poland and held in custody there until the court case. The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) which makes that possible is based on the trust that procedural rights in EU Member States are comparable just like the conditions in prisons. “But that surrender practice is based on a misconception”, says PhD researcher Wouter van Ballegooij, who for many years studied these matters and also worked in the European Parliament. “Collaboration is not the same as subjecting yourself to the will of the other party. Certainly not if that is to the detriment of individual rights.” His thesis describes how it can or, to be honest, must be done differently. “Now is the time to act.” Take the case of Robert Hörchner. This Dutchman from the province of Brabant was handed over to the Polish authorities in 2007, because he was suspected of involvement in the renting of a Polish building where cannabis was being grown. He was remanded in custody for ten months where he shared a cell with nine others, including hard criminals, in appalling conditions. After paying 4500 euros in bail he was allowed to return to the Netherlands where amongst other things he was diagnosed with a post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the early 1990s Wim Saris, professor of Human Nutrition at Maastricht University, considered taking a different research direction. “At the time we had only a basic understanding of why a diet might work for one person but not another, and we had trouble getting much further than that.” But he saw the light at a 1994 conference in Colorado (USA), where molecular biologists presented the next big thing in genomics research: nutrigenomics. “It was spectacular; perhaps the biggest change of the past three decades.” Saris will deliver his farewell lecture, ‘Something to chew on’, on 6 June. 

Contrary to the common claim, a surgical robot does not work faster and more accurately than a pair of human hands. This is the essence of new research by Jeroen Heemskerk (41), a surgeon at the Laurentius Hospital in Roermond. On 16 May, Heemskerk will defend his PhD research on robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery at Maastricht University (UM). “The use of robots can lower the quality of healthcare and certainly makes it more expensive. And that while we’re seeing cutbacks from all sides.”

Leading by example

In Body
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 08:51

Clemens van Blitterswijk’s tissue regeneration research group comes to Maastricht

“I’ve spent most of my career with one foot in academia and one in the business world. And I want to do both of them well.” Clemens van Blitterswijk is indeed ambitious – not to mention successful – in both domains. He has received numerous awards, is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and was recently named the most entrepreneurial scientist in the country. His research group, which specialises in bone and cartilage repair, is among the best in the world. This year, the group will be relocating to Maastricht University as the MERLN Institutefor Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine.

It’s a man’s world – but not for long

In Society
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 15:03

The fact that men and women differ in many ways should be taken into account in scientific research more often, according to the European Commission. Therefore, researchers applying for a grant from the new European framework programme Horizon 2020 must indicate how their study design addresses sex and gender differences. The Maastricht researcher Ineke Klinge led the EU project Gendered Innovations, which developed a checklist to help researchers meet this obligation. How do three UM professors view this development?

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