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Five Veni grants for University of Twente

Five young researchers from the University of Twente are to be awarded a Veni grant, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) announced today. The researchers will each receive an individual grant of €250,000, enabling them to carry out research for three years.

The Veni grant, intended for talented young researchers, is one of the three forms of grant under the NWO's Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. The scheme was set up in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the universities.
This year five Veni grants will be awarded to researchers at the University of Twente: Ron Gill, Arie van Houselt, Sarthak Misra, Anne Remke and Jeroen Rouwkema. Below we give a brief summary of their research work. 


Fluorescence spectroscopy is one of the most widely used methods of analysis in medicine and biosciences research. Dr Ron Gill will be using his Veni grant to improve fluorescence techniques. In his research he examines how fluorescent materials can be made to emit more light by positioning them between silver nanoparticles. This will ultimately lead to more sensitive, cheaper and smaller biomolecular diagnostic equipment. Dr Gill is carrying out his research within the MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine and the Nanobiophysics research group led by Prof. Vinod Subramaniam. 


Dr Arie van Houselt will be using his grant to study chemical reactions on metal surfaces, such as catalysts, under water. These reactions are usually difficult to follow, because for many measurements the water 'gets in the way'. In his research Van Houselt uses a Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM); an extremely powerful microscope capable of showing up individual atoms and molecules. The STM makes use of a miniscule metal needle that can be used to explore surfaces. Dr Van Houselt is carrying out his research within the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology and the Catalytic Processes and Materials research group led by Prof. Leon Lefferts. 


Needles are often used in the medical field for biopsies, where a tissue sample is removed from the body for further analysis, for example to determine whether a patient is suffering from prostate cancer. In practice, rigid biopsy needles are difficult to manoeuvre and sometimes miss their target, so that the doctor has to take several samples. Dr Sarthak Misra will therefore be using his Veni grant to develop flexible, robotically operated biopsy needles that can avoid obstacles in the body. Echography is used to give constant feedback to the robot that inserts the needle on the needle's precise location. Dr Misra is carrying out his research within the MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine and the Control Engineering research group led by Prof. Stefano Stramigioli. 


Water purification and distribution networks are vital to society. Malfunctions or attacks on the ICT systems affecting these facilities form a threat to the availability of drinking water. Dr Anne Remke will be using her Veni grant to calculate the reliability of drinking water networks and the ICT systems that control these networks and analyse the effectiveness of repair strategies in the event of malfunctions and attacks. Dr Remke is carrying out her research within the Centre for Telematics and Information Technology and the Design and Analysis of Communication Systems research group led by Dr Aiko Pras and Prof. Boudewijn Haverkort. 


Our ability to cultivate bone tissue in the laboratory for transplantation purposes is constantly improving. In the human body these tissues react to various mechanical signals such as tensile forces and surface stretching. To successfully carry out a transplant of cultivated bone, it is essential to understand how these mechanical signals influence the cultivated tissue within the body. Dr Jeroen Rouwkema will be using his Veni grant to develop a system that can systematically determine the effect of these signals on cultivated bone tissues and cells. Dr Rouwkema is carrying out his research within the MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine and the Biomechanical Engineering research group led by Prof. Bart Koopman.