A different sound in science

In Culture
Thursday, 18 February 2010 11:24

Vici grant for Karin Bijsterveld’s Sonic Skills research

Volcanic activity has traditionally been predicted by measuring the vibrations of the earth. That is, until people started to see volcanoes as a sort of organ pipe, and started to listen instead to the sounds that they make. The result: better predictions of volcanic activity. “We don’t have ears for nothing”, says Professor Karin Bijsterveld, PhD. “But the act of looking is much more developed in the sciences, including technology and medicine, and visual information is valued much more highly than auditory information,.” In the coming years – and with the help of a sizeable NWO Vici research grant – Bijsterveld will put her ear to precisely these areas.

Art and academics: a match made in heaven

“Why don’t you come to my house, where you can see my work?” suggested Ree Meertens. What a great suggestion that was! The many beautiful works of art, the atmosphere, the house, the hospitality - it’s enough to leave you speechless. But we were there to talk about Ree’s extraordinary combination of two jobs: associate professor at Maastricht University Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Department of Health Promotion, and well-known artist.

Ree Meertens has been working at Maastricht University for over twenty years, teaching health science students and conducting research, currently in the field of risk perception and risk communication. At the same time, she has produced numerous great pieces of art. Ree works mainly with oil paint, sometimes on wood, sometimes on linen or copper. She is always open to new techniques, such as the frescos and the painted glass she recently finished. Her works have figurative elements, and the colours are usually very warm.

Three talented and home-grown legal scientists

A university that wants to compete with the best needs to have a keen eye for outstanding students. Add to that extra supervision and a dash of confidence, and you get research that reveals new insights. Someone who understands the art of talent scouting like no other is Hildegard Schneider, Professor of European Migration Law. Three German PhD candidates graduated recently, partly under her supervision science. Read on for the value of the home-grown student and the rewards of enthusiasm.

Professor Sophie Vanhoonacker examines European bureaucracy

According to Sophie Vanhoonacker, Professor of Administrative Governance in the EU, the tens of thousands of civil servants who work in Brussels are worth studying. She has no problem turning this rather dry material into captivating conversation. “It’s about understanding the political machinery that we’re all a part of, although the broad majority of people don’t realise it yet. Even our politicians still think The Hague is the centre of the world, when in fact they have increasingly little to say”, she says. So who does have something to say? The civil servants in Brussels, perhaps?

“What do you mean? Explain!”

In Culture
Thursday, 19 November 2009 10:12

Veni grant for philosophical research into debate on high public sector salaries

Debates about top salaries in the public sector are invariably laden with emotion. This is true not only in the Netherlands, but in other countries too. The use of good, reasoned arguments then often falls by the wayside, as Dr Teun Dekker, philosopher at University College Maastricht (UCM) has (noticed). “I want to make myself useful by clarifying the debate. By making a clean sweep and separating the good arguments from the bad.” Dekker recently received a Veni grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for this project. “It’s a real honour for a philosopher to receive one of these grants. I imagine they would rather give them to real scientists.”

Sophie Bouwens wins Rabobank Dissertation Award

Sophie Bouwens, winner of the Rabobank Dissertation Award, comes ‘from the field of research’ herself, as she puts it with a smile. Sophie Bouwens was born in Elsloo and grew up in Neerbeek. It helped her research, which was partly an oral history based on extended interviews with cross-border workers. ‘I speak the local dialect. It makes it easier to gain people’s trust. That’s how it works.’

Dr. Sophie Bouwens says she is ‘delighted’ to have won the 2009 Rabobank Dissertation Award with her doctoral thesis Over de streep. Grensarbeid vanuit Zuid-Limburg naar Duitsland 1958 – 2001 (‘Crossing the line. Commuting from the Dutch Province of South Limburg to Germany 1958 - 2001’). ‘Just being nominated is already quite an honour. Only a few doctoral theses are selected from the total. The jury report expressly stated that my research was not just scientifically valuable, but also socially significant. That was good to hear, because I believe that to be an important aspect of scientific research. I also think that the regional aspect was to my advantage.’

Transnational families in Ghana

In Culture
Friday, 26 June 2009 11:37

NWO grant for research into effects of migration

For many people in the African continent, emigrating to Europe is a dream they want to come true at all costs. Working in the rich west means wealth for the entire family. Professor Valentina Mazzucato has carried out research into the long-term effects of migration, with a focus on Ghana, for many years. In September she will embark on a study of transnational families, looking at how emigrants are faring in the Netherlands and what the consequences are for their children and caregivers back in Ghana. The project has been awarded a €700,000 grant by WOTRO, the global development division of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

Anton Koolhaas is alive (again)

In Culture
Thursday, 02 October 2008 00:00

Wiel Kusters gets into the author’s skin with Koolhaas's animals

‘He is the rat W. Raudt; he knows it and feels something powerful. Not in his stomach, or in his head. Somewhere in his chest, where his forepaws are connected to the body. He is healthy. Very healthy.’ According to his children, author Anton Koolhaas couldn’t even hold a baby properly, but in his stories he managed to find his way into the skins of animals such as sparrows Nico and Mia, mouse Kruuk and elephant Branoul. To get to the bottom of this contradiction, Wiel Kusters has written a book on Koolhaas and his animals.

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