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Utrecht University
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ERC Advanced Grants

Three Utrecht researchers receive prestigious European grant


The European Research Council (ERC) awarded prestigious ERC Advanced Grants to researchers Paul ’t Hart, Jaap Sinninghe Damsté en Daniël Vanmaekelbergh. They each receive a grant up to 2.5 million euros for groundbreaking projects that open new directions in their respective research fields or other domains.

Successful public governance
Paul ’t Hart, , Professor of Governance at Utrecht University, receives the grant for his research into 'the secret' of sustainable successful public organizations, networks and policies. Why do some organizations succeed in establishing a sustainable good reputation where others fail in a population of organizations with identical public tasks (such as social services, police forces, inspectorates or ombudsmen)? Why do policies that try to change what civilians believe and do regarding a particular topic (such as drinking and driving) have more long-term success in some areas than in others? Read more (Dutch)

Evolution of eukaryotic organisms
Jaap Sinninghe Damsté, Professor of Organic Geochemistry at Utrecht University, receives the grant for his research at the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. Sinninghe Damsté plans to use this money to examine the evolutionary lines of eukaryotic organisms, which is important to both microbiological ecology and geochemistry. In the past ten years, significant progress has been made in the characterization of micro organisms' genetic material. This was based on pure cultures and complex DNA mixtures in the environment (ocean, bottom, lake, etc.). Compared to this, knowledge of the composition of fat compounds in the cell membranes of micro organisms has fallen far behind. However, these are the essential building blocks for the cell membranes of these single-celled organisms. Read more on the website of NIOZ (Dutch).

Semiconductors with a chicken wire structure
Daniël Vanmaekelbergh, Professor of Chemistry and Physics of Nanostructures at Utrecht University, is researching semiconductor crystals that are millimetres to centimetres wide, but a few millionths of a centimetre thin. These crystals are used in abundance for computer transistors, and as light-emitting devices and lasers. When nano holes are made evenly in such a very thin plate, a honeycomb structure similar to chicken wire can be formed. Electrons lose their mass in this, which in principle allows them to move nearly unimpeded and thus very fast through the honeycomb like elementary light particles. Vanmaekelbergh's research should lead to a new class of optic and electronic materials. Read more


ERC Grants
The European Research Council (ERC) grants support individual researchers of any nationality and age who wish to pursue their frontier research. The ERC encourages in particular proposals that cross disciplinary boundaries, pioneering ideas that address new and emerging fields and applications that introduce unconventional, innovative approaches.

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