Veni grant of 250,000 euros for eight Wageningen researchers

November 5, 2020

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded eight young Wageningen researchers a Veni grant worth up to 250,000 euros. The grant provides the laureates with the opportunity to further elaborate their own research ideas during a period of three years. The Veni laureates will conduct their research on a variety of subjects.

The Veni is awarded by NWO every year. A total of 1,127 researchers submitted an admissible research proposal for funding. On the national level 162 of these have now been granted. The submissions were assessed by means of peer review by external experts from the disciplines concerned. NWO selected the proposed research projects 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.

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.

The eight Wageningen Veni laureates are:

A computer-aided drug discovery platform to design and explore modular peptide synthetases

Dr. M.M. (Mohammad) Alanjary – Bioinformatics

Re-engineering known natural compounds has been a challenging but worthwhile goal, with applications in medicine, agriculture, and bio-sustainability. This research aims to develop new computational methods to enable re-design of microbial compounds by exploiting recent structural insights into protein function and leveraging vast genomic databases in an automated workflow.

Targeting stressed mitochondria to prevent diabetes-induced atrial fibrillation

Dr. Deli Zhang, PhD - Human and Animal Physiology

Diabetes is a strong risk factor for an incurable form of atrial fibrillation. But how diabetes promotes atrial fibrillation is unclear. This research will use a multidisciplinary approach to study the disturbed processes in mitochondria of heart muscle cells to mechanistically understand and ultimately prevent diabetes-induced AF development.

Global health inequality and the diffusion of sanitation since 1850

Dr. D. (Daniel) Gallardo Albarrán - Rural and Environmental History Group

Clean water and toilet access are extraordinarily unequally distributed. Although the long-term roots of these inequalities are well-known, little is understood about their evolution. This project analyzes how local political contexts shaped the global adoption and subsequent diffusion of waterworks and sewerage in major cities worldwide since 1850.

Rethinking “Global China” and the environment: combating climate change through Great Green Walls

Dr. A.L. (Annah) Zhu - Environmental Policy Group

China plants more trees than the rest of the world combined. Through case studies and a global inventory, this research will investigate China’s investments in large-scale reforestation. The results will show how China’s unique approach to the environment is shaping the world’s forests and the future of combating climate change.

The River Plastic Monitoring Project T.H.M. (Tim) van Emmerik - Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management

Riverine macroplastics (>0.5 cm) cause harm to humans and the environment, are a main source of microplastics and contribute to the plastic soup. Reliable observations are crucial to design prevention, mitigation and cleanup strategies. With the universal monitoring framework to be developed, macroplastics can be measured consistently in any river.

Touring the Past, Transforming the Present: Slavery, Heritage and Tourism in the Ghana-Suriname-Netherlands Triangle

Dr. E. A. (Emmanuel) Adu-Ampong - Cultural Geography

How is the past of slavery remembered, narrated and commemorated? This project examines how tourism transforms slavery-related heritage sites in Ghana, Suriname and The Netherlands. It reveals how tourism inspires public memories and discussions about the effects of slavery in terms of belonging, discrimination and racism in contemporary society.

Wounded landscapes: Understanding and restoring nature-society relations in violent contexts

Dr. E. (Esther) Marijnen - Sociology of Development and Change

Armed conflict, (slow) violence and colonialism deeply impact nature-people relationships driving the emergence of ‘wounded landscapes’. By studying these landscapes through in-depth, ethnographic field research, this project increases our practical and theoretical understanding of how nature can be better conserved in unstable contexts in Central Africa and beyond.

Food, Famine, and the End of Empire in Indonesia, 1940-1950

Dr. I.J.J. (Ingrid) de Zwarte - Rural and Environmental History Group

While an estimated 2.4 million people died during the famine in Java in 1944-1945, hardly anything is known about the famine’s impact on the Indonesian War of Independence. This project examines the relationship between food distribution and warfare, hypothesising that wide-spread hunger both catalysed and accelerated the process of decolonisation.