Nine researchers from Wageningen University & Research (WUR) have won Veni grants. This annual grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) is aimed at scientists who have completed their PhDs and are just starting their careers. Researchers receive up to 250,000 euros in order to further develop their ideas over the next three years.
In total, the NWO received 1115 applications for the grant this year. 154 of them will be awarded a Veni grant. The nine young scientists from WUR who have won a Veni grant are:
The role of animals in a circular food system
Animals are increasingly being fed with products that are also consumed by humans, which is leading to feed-food competition for natural resources. This research evaluates how animals can be used in a circular food system in a way that avoids this competition and, in turn, provides insight into the sustainable production and consumption of animal products.
Sugar decorations from worm vaccines
Periodic expulsion of parasitic worms from people and animals is leading to the alarming development of resistance to antihelmintics worldwide. In theory, vaccines could serve as an alternative, but have yet to prove sufficiently effective. In order to tackle this key issue, recreating natural sugar decorations based on vaccines, is the goal of this project proposal.
Can genomic animal breeding continue to contribute to future food security?
Animal breeding is essential for achieving the required production of food in the future. Currently, genomic data are being used to select the best breeding candidates. This project quantifies the long-term effects of genomic selection methods and evaluates whether the current methods must be improved in order for animal breeding to continue contributing to the food security of the future.
Insects in the spotlight
The absence of sunlight in insect production systems stalls the creation of vitamin D. This can be detrimental to the condition of the insect. This project will determine how vitamin D is converted and used by insects, ultimately leading to the improved utilisation of insects for waste processing, organic pest control, and as a food source.
An environmentally friendly way to protect crops against aphids and viruses
Many insecticides are used in agriculture. In particular, aphids pose a substantial problem. If crops had an improved resistance to illness and pests, we would not be required to use as many chemicals. This research will be investigating an intriguing natural mechanism in the sap transport of plants in order to improve protection against aphids and viruses.
Clouds as complex systems
The quantity and clarity of clouds is one of the greatest uncertainties in the prediction of climate change. Cloud systems can be surprisingly persistent or can change abruptly. This research will apply complex systems theory in order to study this challenging behaviour.
Why caterpillars eat the flowers that their parents pollinated
Butterflies are important pollinators for many plants, but some of their caterpillars also have a particular taste for flowers. This project will research why caterpillars eat the flowers that their parents pollinated in order ascertain how insects detect food sources.
Development of new genetic tools from the bacterial immune system “Argonaute”
Bacterial immune systems recognise and sever the DNA of viruses. Some immune systems can be reprogrammed so that they can be used for genetic modification. This research focuses on the characterisation of new bacterial immune systems that could be used for this purpose.
Optimal solutions for river pollution
It is a challenge to resolve the issue of river pollution, because the causes of pollution and their interactions in the environment are poorly understood. The aim of this research is to search for optimal solutions for the issue of river pollution with these interactions in mind. In order to do this, a new river pollution model with spatial optimisation will be developed.