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.

PhD dissertation Joeri Bruyninckx

In general, science is regarded as a predominantly visual practice in which other senses are deemed less important. However, some parts of scientific processes actually do require specific sensory skills, such as listening. This historical research therefore examined how scientists, more specifically ornithologists and biologists in the study of bird sounds, have used and still use listening techniques in their process.

Theatre of memories

In Culture
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:42
Biographies are not limited to people – cities and objects also have their stories to tell. This was the central theme behind the ‘cultural biography’ of Maastricht launched 10 years ago by the municipality. The goal of the Zicht op Maastricht (‘View of Maastricht’) project was to expose people to the city’s cultural heritage in a new way: not through museum exhibitions, but by letting the city speak for itself. This innovative approach to cultural heritage greatly appealed to the historian Pieter Caljé. Thanks to Caljé’s commitment and enthusiasm, many students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) have since contributed to a better view of the city and the relationship between Maastricht students and locals.

The dry feet of the Dutch

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:13
When Hurricane Sandy caused severe damage in the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and north-eastern United States last October, heads turned once again towards the Netherlands. Our country's reputation in the field of flood safety is more than a matter of national pride; it has been unparalleled since the construction of the Delta Works. With strikingly dry feet for the past decades, have we won the battle against the water? Not quite, according to Trudes Heems and Baukje Kothuis. The common belief that we have been saved once and for all is a myth, they argue in their joint PhD thesis.

The nuclear family: not ideal for everyone

In Society
Thursday, 14 February 2013 08:28
What is a family? Are children best raised by their heterosexual, biological parents? The book Families – Beyond the Nuclear Ideal considers a range of relationships and family structures that depart from the ideal of two young, married heterosexuals raising genetic offspring that they conceived sexually. Daniela Cutas, researcher at the Department of Health, Ethics and Society at Maastricht University, co-edited the book with her colleague from the University of Manchester, Sarah Chan. Cutas did her PhD on the ethics and policy of human genetic engineering. “Not everybody fits into the nuclear ideal. What are we going to do about that?”, she asks. Read on for a conversation about boys with pink boots, three parents instead of two and artificial gametes.

The first remarkable thing about Hans Bosman’s PhD thesis is the subject: The History of the Dutch Cocaine Factory and its Successors. Few people are aware of the fact that in 1900 this factory was established to manufacture cocaine, used as a local anaesthetic. The second thing is that the PhD student himself worked in this factory from 1960 as chief chemist. And finally his age: he is 82.  “Doing this research as a PhD project sharpened my focus, but I primarily did it for the intellectual challenge.”

Poet in academia

In Culture
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 15:04

In late June, Wiel Kusters stepped down from his post as professor of General and Dutch Literature. But, he says, the poet and author Kusters will never retire. We sat down with him to talk academia, language, art, the uninhibited approach and the toppling of reality.


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