Genetics researcher Duur Aanen and biochemist Professor Dolf Weijers of Wageningen University have each been awarded a Vici grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Each grant is worth 1.5 million euros, to be used over the next five years for specific research and to expand their research group. This is the first time since 2004 that two Vici grants have been received at Wageningen University at the same time.
With the help of the Vici grant, Duur Aanen will be conducting research focusing on the question of how a farmer can maximise total returns from his crops or livestock. According to Aanen, this is not a trivial question: tall apple trees produce more per individual than low-growing ones, but low-growing apple trees produce the most apples per hectare. He plans to study this using the millions-of-years-old agricultural symbiosis between fungi and termites.
Dr Duur Aanen is an assistant professor at the Laboratory of Genetics.
Dolf Weijers received the Vici grant for his research into the hormone group known as auxins. These hormones control a large number of growth processes, making them a decisive factor in plant development. By studying the structure, working method and evolution of a family of gene switches, Weijers and his fellow researchers will attempt to determine how this multifunctionality works and where it originates.
Dr Dolf Weijers is a professor holding a personal chair in the Laboratory of Biochemistry.
NWO has awarded Vici grants to 36 leading scientists in the Netherlands this year. Each of these researchers receives up to 1.5 million euros with which to conduct specific research and to further expand their research groups over the next five years. The Vici grants are among the largest personal scientific grants awarded in the Netherlands.