Turning the spotlight on excellence

In Society
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00
Who would nowadays dare to claim that science is still a man's world? It is, after all, 2013. Yet on closer inspection, you don’t have to be a rampant feminist to make this claim. Women continue to be underrepresented in academic leadership – across the European Union, only 18% of full professors are women. There is some good news though. In the online databaseAcademiaNet, excellent female researchers are deliberately put in the spotlight. Because in addition to a lack of women leaders, we are wanting in the tools necessary to identify outstanding women academics. AcademiaNet strives to fill that void.

The robots are marching on

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00
“The future has already begun.” Gerhard Weiss, professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, prepares us for the coming onrush in robotics. Like his colleague Tsjalling Swierstra, professor of Philosophy, he thinks robots will make our lives more comfortable, but also more complicated. We should see robots as helpers, saysWeiss,not as enemies.Swierstra is decidedly more reserved: we will need to control the new technology, lest it controls us.

“Every year we expose thousands of newborn babies to inhuman treatment.” This is the legal opinion of Jan Willems, a researcher on the structural prevention of child abuse. The main reason: the sacred cow of automatic parental authority. Willems calls for a different approach to dealing with the perils of unprepared parenthood. “Rather than child protection via postnatal intervention, we should be focusing on prenatal care and parenting education.”

‘A suitcase full of memories’

In Body
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00
This April, Joep Geraedts retired as professor of Clinical Genetics and Cell Biology at Maastricht University. In the 30-plus years that he worked at UM, the developments in his field have been spectacular. Take the unravelling of the mysteries of DNA, for example: “If you had asked me 30 years ago whether I thought I’d witness that, I would have said no. Something that used to take four years of PhD research can now be done in one afternoon by a computer. In terms of technology there are few obstacles left; the issues we now face are rather on the legal and ethical fronts. I think we’ll be dealing with those for the next 30 years.”

As a law student in Brussels, Christine van den Wyngaert wanted nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of her heroes, the singers Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. And so she did. A regular on stage, she released her first LP in 1971. But this was also her last. She embarked instead on an academic career – again, not without success. In 1985 Van den Wyngaert became professor of Criminal Law at the University of Antwerp. Now she is a judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, helping to administer the first dose of international criminal justice. On 31 May, she will be awarded an honorary doctorate from Maastricht University.

In his inaugural lecture on 11 April, Philippe Delespaul will call for a more innovative and sustainable system of mental healthcare. With this lecture, entitled ‘Mental healthcare in the Netherlands: Back to square one?’ (Terug naar af met de GGZ?), Delespaul accepts the endowed chair ‘Innovations in Dutch mental healthcare’ at Maastricht University. Today’s economic crisis has left few areas unaffected, including the mental healthcare system (geestelijke gezondheidszorg, or GGZ). The focus in Delespaul’s research is how to use the limited financial resources in a better and more creative way.

It’s the quintessential economic nightmare: banks falling like dominoes. This is why, when bankruptcy comes knocking, governments tend to bail out large banks that operate globally and have ties to many other banks. Known as ‘systematically important financial institutions’ (SIFIs) – that is, banks whose failure could trigger a major financial collapse – thus take risks not only in their investments and financial products, but also in their accounting practices.

The ageing consumer (video)

In Money
Thursday, 07 March 2013 08:35
PhD dissertation Jessica Hohenschon

In ageing Western societies older people become increasingly important for companies’ sustained success, because older people form a big and attractive market segment. This PhD research shows that the prevailing stigma of older people being poor, frail and old-fashioned, is often incorrect – many 50plus consumers are healthy, wealthy, active and curious. 

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