Fourteen Veni’s for VU Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded a Veni grant worth up to 250,000 euros to 162 highly promising young scientists - fourteen of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc.

11/05/2020 | 12:00 AM

The grant provides the laureates with the opportunity to further elaborate their own ideas during a period of three years. The proud winners of VU Amsterdam and location VUmc are:

Maximilian Beyer 
Physicist Maximilian Beyer receives a Veni for the research Weakly bound molecular ions to probe fundamental physics.
Laser light and electric fields are used to generate a molecular ion and to keep it fixed in space. The ion can be visualized as two spheres connected by a spring. A measurement of the vibrations of the spring is used to learn whether fundamental physical constants change over time.
 Erik van der Kouwe
VUSec researcher Erik van der Kouwe, receives a Veni for the research Vulcan: forging vulnerable code to fight fire with fire.
Vulnerabilities allow hackers to attack software. Researchers build defense mechanisms to keep hackers out, but we are unable to properly determine how effective they are. Van der Kouwe ‘forge’ their own vulnerable code to carefully test these defense mechanisms, thereby preventing real attacks.
Yanhao Lin 
Earth scientist Yanhao Lin receives the grant for his/her research Water storage in the deep Earth.
Stishovite, a common mineral in the interior of the Earth, was traditionally considered a dry mineral, but recently water-bearing stishovite was synthesized. Lin will measure the maximum water solubility in stishovite by in situ high pressure-temperature experiments to constrain the Earth’s deep water cycle.
Loes Aaldering 
Political scientist Loes Aaldering receives the Veni for the research Seeing the bigger picture. The impact of gender stereotypes in politicians’ textual and visual media coverage on voters.
Are gender stereotypes applied in the visual media coverage of politicians? And how does gender stereotypical portrayal of politicians in textual and visual media coverage affect citizens in their information processing and political attitudes? Aaldering answers these questions combining computational visual analysis, eye-tracking techniques and experiments.
Eirini Karyotaki 
Clinical psychologist Eirini Karyotaki receives the grant for her research Personalised e-health for common mental disorders.
E-health can revolutionize mental health care of common mental disorders. However, little is known about who benefits from different kinds of e-health. Karyotaki proposes to use powerful analytic techniques to develop personalized prediction models that can show who is more likely to respond to what kind of eHealth treatment.
  Jeanne Savage
Geneticist Jeanne Savage receives the Veni for the researchMultiple genetic pathways to alcohol misuse.
Alcohol misuse is a highly heritable behavior with enormous global health burden and societal costs, yet the specific genes involved remain elusive to detect. Savage aims to improve gene identification by considering the complexity of alcohol misuse and examining the possibility of multiple genetic pathways in its development.
Linda vd Burgwal 
Researcher Entrepreneurship in the life sciences Linda van de Burgwal receives the grant for her research Being prepared for future outbreaks of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Outbreaks of Emerging Infectious Diseases offer opportunities ánd tensions for alignment between public health interventions and medical innovation. Collaboration with the Global South is essential for better responses in future outbreaks. Van de Burgwal investigates the implications of collaborating between both processes, and between the Global North and South.
 Marlene Weulen Kranenbarg
Criminologist Marleen Weulen Kranenbarg receives the Veni for the research Choosing the good side: factors that lead to non-criminal hacking.
In contrast to criminal hackers, non-criminal hackers actively help in securing IT systems. By examining life course characteristics of non-criminal hackers, as well as situational and cultural factors, this study will show why non-criminal hackers choose to stay on the good side of the law and use their skills in cybersecurity.
Els van der Ven 
Clinical psychologist Els van der Ven receives the grant for her research Psychoses without borders.
Ethnic minorities are at increased risk of developing psychosis. Social experiences are important but it is unclear how. Repeated exposure to negative experiences may lead to a stronger stress response over time. Van der Ven tests whether a stronger stress response in behaviour or brain explains higher psychosis rates in minorities.
Jurjan Aman 
Jurjan Aman, of Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc receives the grant for his research Preserving the small pulmonary arteries to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension is an important contributor to heart failure at young age. What exactly causes this rise in pulmonary blood pressure is unclear. Arman focuses on loss of small blood vessels as possible cause, and tests stabilization of small blood vessels as treatment strategy for pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Anita van Loenhoud 
Anita van Loenhoud of Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc receives a Veni for the research The brain's reserve capacity in Alzheimer's disease.
Why are some people with Alzheimer’s disease better protected against memory problems than others? This project examines the “reserve capacity” of the brain, by studying differences between patients in their course of symptoms and brain changes. This work will contribute to better prognostic tools and novel disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer’s.
Josine Winter
Josine de Winter of Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc receives the grant for her research Energizing molecular dance.
NEM6 is a disease that affects both skeletal and cardiac muscle. Due to disturbed energy supply, muscle cannot contract properly. De Winter has developed a novel setup and NEM6 models to screen for drugs that improve energy supply and muscle function in NEM6.
Ivana Drienovska  
Ivana  Drienovská, receives the grant for her research Expanding the enzyme universe: a closer look at unnatural amino acids.
Genetically encoded unnatural amino acids represent a promising strategy toward designer catalysts, however still very few examples exist. This proposal aims to investigate a set of unnatural amino acids with high catalytic potential. If successful, it would allow a generation of enzymes for new-to-nature catalysis in a sustainable fashion.
  Suzanne Klaver
Suzanne Klaver receives a Veni for the research Uncovering the lepton generation gap: what’s the difference in their relationships?
A crucial foundation of particle physics is that the building blocks of the universe appear in three generations, which differ in mass, but interact identically. Recent experiments, however, question this fundamental principle of identical interactions. Klaver will investigate two generations of so-called leptons to interpret this unexpected behaviour. 


The Veni is awarded by NWO every year. A total of 1,127 researchers submitted an admissible research proposal for funding. 162 of these have now been granted. That comes down to an award rate of 14%. The submissions were assessed by means of peer review by external experts from the disciplines concerned. In this Veni funding round, NWO is investing a total of 41,5 million euros in free and curiosity-driven research.

NWO Talentprogramme  
Together with Vidi and Vici, Veni is part of the NWO Talent Programme. Veni is aimed at excellent researchers who have recently obtained their doctorate. Researchers in the Talent Programme are free to submit their own subject for funding. NWO thus encourages curiosity-driven and innovative research. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and the possibilities for knowledge use.