Seven Wageningen researches receive Vidi grants for their own research group

November 4, 2020

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded seven experienced Wageningen researchers a Vidi grant worth 800,000 euros. The grant enables them to develop their own innovative line of research and set up their own research group in the coming five years. Never before so many Vidi grants have landed in Wageningen.

The Wageningen laureates have gained a lot of experience and conducted successful research, which made them eligible for a Vidi grant. Together with the Veni and Vici grants, Vidi is part of the NWO Talent Programme. Within this programme, researchers are free to submit their own subject for funding. They will use the money to spend the next five years in their field. 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. At a national level, NWO has awarded 81 Vidis.

The Wageningen Vidi laureates awarded are:

Marine Time Machine

Dr. Lisa Becking - Marine Animal Ecology, Wageningen Marine Research

What will coral reefs look like in a future with rising sea surface temperature and declining water quality?

Marine lakes - islands of seawater – are our marine time machines. These remote lakes currently provide natural states of predicted environmental scenarios, and allow glimpses into the consequences of climate change on tropical marine biodiversity.

To multiply you must divide

Dr. Wouter Kohlen - Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Plants are unable to move. However, a plant can adjust its body architecture to suit its needs. In some cases, new growth is initiated by re-activating cell divisions of fully differentiated cells. Humans cannot do this. Wouter Kohlen will investigate what makes a plant able to initiate these cell divisions.

Rapid flight manoeuvres in flies, mosquitoes and drones Florian Muijres - Experimental Zoology

Two-winged insect such as flies and mosquitoes are extremely manoeuvrable: by precise wingbeat movement adjustments, they accurately manipulate aerodynamic forces on their wings. By studying the bio-fluid-mechanics and control of flight manoeuvres in two-winged insect, researchers aim to improve mosquito traps and make drones more manoeuvrable.

ROS perception by plant receptor kinases

Dr. Elwira Smakowska-Luzan - Biochemistry

Plants respond in a universal way to environmental stresses by the production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). How ROS are sensed outside of the plant cell remains unknown. The Smakowska-Luzan team proposes that certain extracellular receptors serve as sophisticated ROS sensors. Unravelling the ROS sensing and signalling mechanisms open the way to resilient plants that better can cope with stress.

Flowering time genes branching out Wilma van Esse, Bioscience, Laboratory of Molecular Biology

The timing of flowering determines not only when a flower is formed but also the seed number, seed weight and number of branches. The researchers will study how these traits are linked at the molecular level in order to improve cereal crop yield through knowledge-based breeding strategies.

Mapping the onset of plant parasitism Jose Lozano Torres - Laboratory of Nematology

Plant parasitic worms are one of the most damaging pests in agriculture. Understanding the start of parasitism is fundamental for its management. Biologists will use novel technologies to measure at cellular level the first molecular changes needed to cause a parasitic disease. This knowledge will largely contribute for crop breeding.

Electrifying growth in Africa Maarten Voors, Development Economics

Rural towns in Africa are rapidly being connected to electricity. Does this spark a process of economic structural transformation and sustainable poverty reduction? This research project investigates the causal pathways through which electrification can impact economic development and the specific role of technology and market complementarities.