Like father, like son

In Culture
Wednesday, 21 June 2017 12:42

As a little boy, for Wiebe Bijker there was hardly anything better than playing in his father's lab—not a lab with microscopes but with outdoor models of coasts and harbours, such as the Haringvliet (1:400 scale), where he strutted around in his boots. Like his father, later in his career he got the most pleasure from the combination of theoretical research and ‘hands-on’ work. And he also found his own outdoor ‘lab’: India.


The amount of data produced by scientists increases by one third every year, according to the European Commission. How can they find their way around this mountain of data? This is the key question intriguing the new distinguished university professor of Data Science, Michel Dumontier. The 41-year-old Canadian researcher is relocating to Maastricht from the prestigious Stanford University, where he focused on discovering new drugs and precision medicine.


A scientific crush

Thursday, 12 May 2016 10:33

From the very first contact, the feeling was mutual: this is the kind of person I want to work with. After a six-month internship in Professor Ron Heeren’s group at the AMOLF institute, Karolina Skraskova knew she couldn’t return to the Czech Republic, where she had originally started her PhD. When Heeren offered her a new position, she gladly accepted. In her final year the entire research group moved from Amsterdam to Maastricht, and this is where, on 3 March 2016, she defended her PhD thesis.


Alternatives to animal testing

Wednesday, 20 January 2016 14:37

Jos Kleinjans is, much to his own frustration, regarded as someone who lands grants by the dozen. The professor of Environmental Health Science is working to develop better, animal-free methods to test the toxicity of chemical substances such as medicines and cosmetics. He’s pessimistic about the prospects for rapid legal approval of his animal-friendly, toxicogenomic alternatives: “I won’t be around to see it happen.”  


Darwin vs industrial-capitalist thinking

Wednesday, 16 September 2015 08:04

The industrial dogma “cheaper is better” is about to prove short-sighted, according to Maastricht University (UM) professor of New Biobased Building Blocks Stefaan de Wildeman. In addition to developing new plastics from renewable sources in his laboratory on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus, he is working to change the way we think about plastics. “The heyday of capitalism must make way for a natural evolution towards renewable plastics that are not necessarily cheaper.”


Working towards more sustainable materials is not about developing materials made from renewable sources. Instead, it’s about lowering the carbon footprint of the materials we use today, without compromising their physical properties and functionality. Professor of Polymer Science Sanjay Rastogi wants to achieve this goal by working with industry to combine molecular insight and product development. He has dedicated his career to seeking new knowledge about polymers – at present from his three different bases, at Loughborough University (UK), Teijin Aramid (Arnhem) and Maastricht University (UM).


Deducing from a single hair what drug a person has taken and when, to within an hour’s accuracy. This is just one of the possibilities offered by mass spectrometry (put simply, the photography of molecules). Ron Heeren is a specialist in this technology. As of 1 September, Heeren is a ‘university professor’ in Maastricht, a special post granted on the basis of his scientific achievements. His research group in Maastricht will focus on medical applications of the mass spectrometer. “It’s a fantastic tool for personalised medicine”, he says. Together with fellow university professor, the nanobiologist Peter Peters, he is joint head of the new Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging Institute (M4I). With the launch of the M4I, Maastricht is now the largest imaging centre in Europe.


The Maastricht Science Programme is now in its third year. The fledgling bachelor’s degree is generating interest from all over the world, and the lecturers and researchers Ariane Perez-Gavilan and Roy Erkens know why. “It has great interaction between students and tutors, freedom of choice in subjects, and crossovers between different fields and disciplines.”

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