Yes, 100 per cent open access is possible

Yes, 100 per cent open access is possible

Open access publishing has skyrocketed over the past few years. Large publishers have come around and the accessible journals are on the rise. But how is the UM doing? How many Maastricht publications are available to everyone? Do young researchers do it too or just those who have already made it? It's Open Access Week again, organised by the University Library.

“Let yourself get involved in their lives, rather than engaging them in your research”

“Let yourself get involved in their lives, rather than engaging them in your research”

MAASTRICHT. Helping researchers who want to do community-engaged research and showcase what is already happening at Maastricht University. That is the aim of the Maastricht Platform for Community-Engaged Research (MPCER). During the launch event at Lumière last Thursday, the pitfalls and challenges of this kind of research were discussed.

Mindfulness: Not a Swiss Army knife

Mindfulness: Not a Swiss Army knife

Mindfulness – if you look it up on Google, you will get 103 million hits. More than 60 thousand non-specialist books have been written on the subject. But what do we really know about it? What effects have actually been proven, what role can mindfulness play on the work floor and what are the pitfalls? These are the questions touched upon by Ute Hülsheger, professor of Occupational Health Psychology since last Friday, in her inaugural speech.

“A lot has to do with common sense”

“A lot has to do with common sense”

Being able to work on something important for a period of ten years. That certainty is the true gift of the gravitation subsidy (almost 20 million) that she and her consortium received, says professor Anita Jansen. “You need that as a researcher.” As a dean, she tried to improve working conditions for her staff. By allocating teaching tasks and money differently. But you don't have everything in your own hand. With the Van Rijn plan (more money for the sciences, at the expense of arts and humanities), also funding of the psychology faculties is being squeezed further. “I can't bear to think what might happen, it is so tough already.”

“In US Congress, there is only one PhD on 535 members”

“In US Congress, there is only one PhD on 535 members”

Together with his colleagues Rainer Weiss and Kip Thorne, Barry Barish (83) won the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 for the discovery of gravitational waves. He became world famous overnight. Was his life turned upside down? And: what would be his best tip for ambitious students? Barish gave the key lecture at the Opening Academic Year.

On steel, yoghurt and the gross domestic product

On steel, yoghurt and the gross domestic product

She’s been working at the School of Business and Economics for barely a year and she’s already been awarded the Edmond Hustinx Prize worth fifteen thousand euros. The winner is… big data expert Ines Wilms.

Brain research into order in the chaos

Brain research into order in the chaos

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Neuroscientist Sanne ten Oever wants to carry out measurements to map out the activity of every brain cell (a total of 80 billion).

UM faculties expect an avalanche of applications

UM faculties expect an avalanche of applications

Migration, language education in border regions, internationalisation on the shop floor. These are a few of the themes that will be dealt in the thirteen UM PhD programmes within the inter-faculty project Limes. The project, set up with an EU subsidy, is also state-of-the-art when it comes to the selection and training of young researchers.

 

The power of the crowd

The power of the crowd

Asking a bunch of non-scientists to help with your research, or to fund your latest project. More and more scientists at Maastricht University are doing this, because it allows them to undertake things that they normally wouldn’t have the time or the money for.

Theatre on scientific stumbling blocks

Theatre on scientific stumbling blocks

Science satire. Discussion theatre. That is how the play The ConScience App is characterised, which broaches the moral dilemmas in science. The theatre company will descend on Maastricht next Thursday.

“The cook is the pharmacologist of the future”

“The cook is the pharmacologist of the future”

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Professor Aalt Bast wants to show that the dividing line between medicines, nutrition and poison are no longer current.

Entering the intestines with a cart

Entering the intestines with a cart

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? PhD candidate Johanna Kreutz (28) dreams of a Mars rover that, instead of filming and taking samples on the red planet, would do so in the intestines.

Combining small-scale and virtual learning

Combining small-scale and virtual learning

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Associate professor Mark Govers would set up an experiment with a fully digital university.

“Something like wheat with very little gluten can be created within six weeks”

“Something like wheat with very little gluten can be created within six weeks”

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? University Professor Peter Peters dreams of producing healthy vegetables and fruit using the latest DNA technology.

Patience is a virtue

Patience is a virtue

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Economics Professor Thomas Dohmen would like to set up a long-term, large-scale research project to see if there is a causal connection bet...

Reality has become too complex

Reality has become too complex

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? ICIS director Ron Cörvers would like to set up an urban lab at the UM to try and solve regional sustainable issues.

“It should never have happened”

“It should never have happened”

“What happened with Rambam, is extremely damaging.” At the same time, Maastricht emeritus professor André Knottnerus is not assuming the programme makers were deliberately malicious. Maybe it was a case of “ignorance, in combination with the pressure to score. But this does not make the damage done any less.”

Wanted: 13 PhD's

Wanted: 13 PhD's

MAASTRICHT. Thirteen PhD students from three Maastricht faculties will need to be recruited this year for research project Limes - Latin for border. The project was recently honoured with a 1.4 million euro European subsidy (Marie Curie Cofund). The ...

Mathematics in the city

Mathematics in the city

MAASTRICHT. Mathematicians see mathematics everywhere, even in the most ordinary everyday things, says Frank Thuijsman, professor of Strategic Optimization and Data Science, who opened the Math/Maastricht exhibition on the Minderbroedersberg 4-6 last Thursday. This is how the idea arose for an alternative guide for Maastricht, in which mathematicians from Maastricht University share a place that reminds them of a particular problem or research.

On bombings, torture, smugglers… and research

On bombings, torture, smugglers… and research

Three refugees recently received a special NWO grant to carry out research at the UM. Two of them - a Syrian neuroscientist and a Palestinian pharmacologist - tell their stories. The third laureate, from Turkey, preferred not to be interviewed.

Health promotion research with an iPhone

Health promotion research with an iPhone

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Professor Rik Crutzen would like to know more about the mindset of people who follow an exercise programme. One that is based on data collected on mobile phones.

On plants and cancer, healthy eating and the nerve system of a caterpillar

On plants and cancer, healthy eating and the nerve system of a caterpillar

A more interactive programme with input from the audience – that’s the aim of Studium Generale’s new segment: Ask the Scientist. Over the past few months, people could send in their burning questions about life, the world, the universe. Last Tuesday, three scientists answered a selection of them in the Auditorium on the Minderbroedersberg.

Foretaste of Pint of Science

Foretaste of Pint of Science

MAASTRICHT. The idea originated in London a few years ago: put some scientists in a pub, let them talk about a certain topic and thus provide the broader public with an easy way of becoming acquainted with scientific research. That is what Pint of Science is: a three-day worldwide festival held in May. This year, for the first time, it will also be held in Maastricht. Last year, other Dutch universities took the lead before Maastricht. A 'taster' can be had on 27 February.

 “My phrasing there is clumsy, unfortunate”

“My phrasing there is clumsy, unfortunate”


A researcher selling his soul to industry. That’s how Rob Markus, who holds an endowed chair at Maastricht University, was portrayed – unsuccessfully blurred out – in a broadcast of the Dutch television programme Rambam on Thursday, 24 January. He was quite willing to discuss the possibility of ‘guiding’ research on an energy drink towards a positive outcome. Is that true? “Of course it isn’t”, says Markus. “The context has been completely removed”.

“My patient wouldn’t do that”, most therapists think

“My patient wouldn’t do that”, most therapists think

Pretending that you suffer from an illness or disorder, for example in order to pocket compensation for damages. It happens more often than you would think. How do you separate the con artists from the patients? But also, how widespread is it? A Maastricht experiment showed that 94 per cent of the students would be inclined to do it.

Getting people into the right mood

Getting people into the right mood

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Professor Bernadette Jansma would like to know what happens in the brain when people understand each other. Are they literally on the same (brain) wavelength?

Tackling corruption the soft way

Tackling corruption the soft way

Hortense Jongen hopped on an airplane in Gothenburg last Thursday to pay an ultra-short visit to her hometown Maastricht. And with good reason: to accept the dissertation prize during the university’s founding day ceremony. Jongen researched how one could combat corruption on an international level using ‘soft governance’. The topic, the interdisciplinary perspective, and her pleasant style of writing were decisive for the jury.

Honorary doctorate for two idealists

Honorary doctorate for two idealists

The one is devoted to freedom and democracy, the other seeks a genuine climate policy. This characterises the two laureates who will receive honorary doctorates during the university’s foundation day ceremony. Michael Ignatieff has been active in particular as rector of the Central European University (CEU) in the last few years, while writer Amitav Ghosh calls upon everyone to fight against climate change. 

Fight against nonsense statistics

Fight against nonsense statistics

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Stephan Smeekes, data scientist at the School of Business and Economics, would like to investigate why computer programmes often find ‘nonsensical connections’ in big data. This wouldn't require large investments; it would just take a lot of time.

Bringing order into the jungle of small-scale studies

Bringing order into the jungle of small-scale studies

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Molecular biologist Manon van Engeland would like to set up a study to collect all biomarker cancer research projects in a database. Why? To enable patients to benefit as quickly as possible from the detection of the early signs of cancer.

"Once again we have blood on our hands"

"Once again we have blood on our hands"

First: Do we still want to keep the European Union? And second: What will it take? These are two very important questions for the upcoming years, says Mathieu Segers, professor of Contemporary European History and European Integration. He gave his inaugural lecture in the St. Janskerk last week.

“This is not just any project, it takes top priority for me”

“This is not just any project, it takes top priority for me”

MAASTRICHT. Quality above quantity, a clear path for teaching careers, and last but not least, team science instead of the age-old hierarchical structure. If it is up to rector Rianne Letschert, there is about to be a revolution within the world of academia. The assessment of researchers is about to be changed. The toughest hurdle is convincing Europe and then the rest of the world. 

Teaching political scientists a lesson

Teaching political scientists a lesson

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Political scientist Arjan Schakel would like to prove that many social researchers take the wrong approach in their research into voting behaviour. To do so, he needs tens of millions. 

Assessment of scientists to change

Assessment of scientists to change

MAASTRICHT. Impact factors, h-indexes, individual subsidies. If it’s up to the universities and research financers in the Netherlands, these aspects will become less important. The assessment and funding systems for researchers must change fundamentally. Maastricht rector Rianne Letschert may be seen as the force behind this. She plead for a different assessment system since her appointment as rector two years ago. The first steps will be taken next year.

“When there are bombings I tell my children there are fireworks”

“When there are bombings I tell my children there are fireworks”

On 14 June 2009, a missile hit the second floor of the house of 39-year-old Palestinian human rights activist Yamen Al Madhoun. Glass and stone splinters slightly injured two of his sisters. Whose missile that was, is still under investigation. Viole...

Better understanding of the risk factors for heart failure

Better understanding of the risk factors for heart failure

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Professor Blanche Schroen wants to get a better understanding of the risk factors of heart failure in order to develop more effective medication.

Breaking the trend in South Limburg

Breaking the trend in South Limburg

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Professor Maria Jansen dreams of having ten million euro to carry out a study into the poor state of health in South Limburg. She would focus on the hereditary nature of unhealthiness, passing from one generation to the next. 

30 days in bed

30 days in bed

MAASTRICHT. The Chinese Yiyun Chen doesn't go outside anymore and has no direct contact with people. She lives in a special bedroom in Eindhoven and does everything from her bed. It sounds like a terminally ill patient, but Chen is an artist. She...

Standing places in lecture halls and bowls of fruit in all buildings

Standing places in lecture halls and bowls of fruit in all buildings

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Professor Stef Kremers would set up a large-scale experiment at the UM in an attempt to promote the health of students and employees.

Digital reproduction or preferably the original?

Digital reproduction or preferably the original?

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Cultural scientist Vivian van Saaze would look into how digitisation of art would influence our appreciation of the authentic object.

A gift voucher helps people stop smoking

A gift voucher helps people stop smoking

Employees doing training at work to quit smoking are more likely to stay the course if they are given a reward, showed a study by the Maastricht institute Caphri. The results were published in The Lancet Public Health. Employees who participa...

"In the past 25 years, a lot of voters have turned into morons, apparently"

"In the past 25 years, a lot of voters have turned into morons, apparently"

A former left-wing sociologist, who, in his latest book, defends populism in Hungary and Poland. The auditorium at the Minderbroedersberg was packed on Tuesday evening when Frank Furedi (1947, Hungary) gave his lecture 'Taking democracy seriously: a defence of populism', organised by Studium Generale.

Depressed because of clogged veins

Depressed because of clogged veins

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Thomas van Sloten would like to test a pill that would improve the tiniest veins in the brains of older patients. There is just one problem: that pill doesn't exist yet.

The new humanitarian aid: export of business philosophy

The new humanitarian aid: export of business philosophy

Imagine you, a researcher, are given a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Elsje Fourie, researcher at Fasos, would like to do fieldwork in one of the many Ethiopian businesses that are currently so taken in by the Japanese business philosophy of Kaizen. What does that entail?

On a mini-expedition to South Siberia

On a mini-expedition to South Siberia

When he is at a birthday party and he tells people that he carries out research into thermoregulation - or to be more precise, the regulation of the body's temperature - he is told story after story. About how women always feel colder than men, a...

“It is actually possible, equal academic careers”

“It is actually possible, equal academic careers”

Dual inaugural lectures have happened before in Maastricht, but this is the first time that a ‘husband and wife’ present theirs in the same ceremony. The honour goes to German researchers Lisa and Alexander Brüggen, each of whom will accept a chair at the School of Business and Economics (SBE) tomorrow. “Some employees, who have worked at SBE for years, don't even know that we are a couple.”

Ensuring accessibility for everyone

Ensuring accessibility for everyone

MAASTRICHT. Riding a bus, using a tablet, accessing a public building; most people perform these activities without even thinking about it. For people with disabilities, though, they may be obstacles that are impossible to overcome.  As of 2008, United Nations law establishes the right to accessibility. But what does this mean in practice? What kind of laws and policies are needed? It’s this legal framework that Edmond Hustinx Prize winner, Andrea Broderick, will research.

Prize puts Dutch scientist in ‘Champions League’ of astronomy

THE NETHERLANDS. Dutch astronomer Ewine van Dishoeck has won the prestigious Kavli award for astrophysics for her work on the origin of stars and planets. She will receive the gold medal and €1m prize money from the hands of King Harald V of Norway on Tuesday.

Sorrow, mourning, empathy, feelings animals are all to familiar with

Sorrow, mourning, empathy, feelings animals are all to familiar with

Suppose you’re a scientist and you get a bag of money, unlimited time and personnel. What research would you do? Pim Martens, professor of Sustainability, would like to put dogs in an MRI scanner.

Myth: physical proximity is crucial for a family

Myth: physical proximity is crucial for a family

Dutch migration laws in the nineteen-eighties included a rule that family members should not be separated for longer than two years. After such a period, the family connection was broken and migrants lost the right to family reunification. “Thi...

Myth on Looted Art: what was stolen, remains stolen

Myth on Looted Art: what was stolen, remains stolen

You take something from me without my consent, so logically I want it back. Whether it is a piece of jewellery, a bicycle, a car or a pen. It is the same with art. Even if it was stolen eighty years ago or maybe even longer and I can prove that the o...

Myth: Being unhappy with your body encourages healthier behaviour

Myth: Being unhappy with your body encourages healthier behaviour

A picture of a fat baby, accompanied by the text ‘When you realize it’s almost summer, and your winter body has gotten out of control’. This is the introduction to one of the latest UM Sports newsletters, urging readers to get &ldqu...

Hungarian university under fire: fight or flight

Hungarian university under fire: fight or flight

Things are getting tense: will business magnate George Soros’s Central European University weather the storm in Budapest, or be chased off by the right-wing, nationalist government of Viktor Orbán? The university’s rector Michael Ignatieff may be able to shed some light on the matter: in early May, at the invitation of Studium Generale, he will deliver the Schuman lecture. Focusing on the new enemies of the open society, it’s not one to miss. What exactly is going on? Why does Orbán have the university in his sights? Hungarian history lecturer Ferenc Laczó (FASoS) takes us behind the scenes.

Majority researchers are guilty of sloppy science

Majority researchers are guilty of sloppy science

How sloppy is our science? Ninety per cent of the almost six hundred researchers in a survey admits to having crossed the line at least once. Mistake number one: mentioning an author who in practice hardly contributed to your research at all. This was one of the outcomes of a recent study by Erik Driessen, professor in Medical Education at Maastricht University and two American colleagues. There was a midday lecture on the theme last Tuesday.

“Researchers don’t have a clue about deadlines and word counts”

“Researchers don’t have a clue about deadlines and word counts”

Academics have an ethical obligation to write articles for a broad audience, partly to counter others who are less than expert in the material or who wish to manipulate us. This is the standpoint of the Melbourne-based guest lecturer Simon Clews, who is giving writing workshops all week at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

SCRUM Club: use open source software for your research

SCRUM Club: use open source software for your research

MAASTRICHT. When it comes to Open Access, most people’s minds go directly to the availability of research articles for everybody. But there’s more to it, for instance the software that researchers use to analyse their data. The Scientific Computing and Research @ UM Club (SCRUM Club) feels that using a licensed programme like SPSS always shuts out a group of people. That’s why they promote and teach openly and freely available software and tools for scientific computing and research at their biweekly meetings.

Myth: It’s easy to change the behaviour of a group

Myth: It’s easy to change the behaviour of a group

Making sure employees switch off the lights before they leave the office, convincing all youngsters to only have safe sex, and making people choose the healthiest products. Organisations and governments regularly feel that they should change the beha...

Navigation tools and works of art

Navigation tools and works of art

MAASTRICHT. Throughout the centuries, atlases have been more than just navigation tools. They can also be works of art, tell a story about how the world was depicted at that time, and hint at the opinions of the cartographer. Jonathan Stockhorst...

UM researcher had to choose: ERC grant or Vidi grant

UM researcher had to choose: ERC grant or Vidi grant

MAASTRICHT. Researcher Vera Schrauwen-Hinderling received two first prizes last year: a Vidi grant from NWO and an ERC grant from Brussels. She did so with similar research proposals. ERC and NWO do not agree with this. An attempt to give the Vidi project a different angle, did not work.

SBE needs to find data scientists

SBE needs to find data scientists

Professor Jos Lemmink thinks that the School of Business and Economics should appoint fifteen data scientists in the next two years. It is high time to make way for smart technology in the curriculum. He will give a presentation to the Faculty Board next week.

Customers hunting for a bargain are less friendly

Customers hunting for a bargain are less friendly

Customers are more likely to behave unseemly towards employees of low-budget companies than towards employees of reputable companies. This discovery was made by Alexander Henkel, researcher at the BISS institute in Heerlen.

“A labour of love”

“A labour of love”

MAASTRICHT. A wonderful example of consensus decision-making in science. That is how professor Sally Wyatt describes the success of national research school WTMC (Wetenschap, Techniek & Moderne Cultuur (Science, Technology and Modern Culture)) of which, until recently, Maastricht ran the secretaryship. “The willingness of the ten Dutch universities involved to work together, is great. There is nothing like it in the United Kingdom or the United States, where competition is too fierce.”

“I never knew there was a chance I was in for it”

“I never knew there was a chance I was in for it”

MAASTRICHT. His enthusiastic co-operation with researchers, the quality of his thesis, and his contribution towards better treatments for cancer patients, were three reasons why the Dissertation Prize 2017 went to Dr Mark Podesta, postdoc at MAASTRO clinic, last Friday. The faculty deans nominated a total of five theses, but Time dependent verification of dynamic external beam radiotherapy turned out to be the best.

Myth: Transparency is an all-embracing cure

Myth: Transparency is an all-embracing cure

“Let me emphasise,” says Vigjilenca Abazi, assistant professor of European law. “Transparency is an important precondition for a good democratic society, for being able to hold people and institutions accountable, for public debates...

UM Star Lectures

UM Star Lectures

MAASTRICHT. Thirteen cities, four countries and 900 alumni. In order to maintain the relationship with former students, Maastricht University (UM) will organize the fourth annual UM Star Lectures on 1 February.

Pioneers in digital technology

Pioneers in digital technology

Two honorary doctorates are being awarded during the university's anniversary celebration. They are going to two women who won their spurs in the field of digital technology. American anthropologist Lucy Suchman works with robots in warzones and nursing homes. British computer scientist Carole Goble creates software that allows scientists to work together better.

How to avoid terrible labs

How to avoid terrible labs

The importance of your mentor, choosing a good lab, and ageing. Three of the topics in the career interview with TEFAF professor Jan Hoeijmakers, organised by research school GROW. One thing is clear: Hoeijmakers is no fan of the US.

Myth: hardly anyone understands the general theory of relativity

Myth: hardly anyone understands the general theory of relativity

It's 1916. Albert Einstein has just published the general theory of relativity, which describes the curvature of light influenced by mass. “Which means,” says theoretic physicist Gideon Koekoek, “that the light from a star is cu...

UM sixth on national ranking of female professors

UM sixth on national ranking of female professors

MAASTRICHT. A year ago, 19.3 per cent of all professors in the Netherlands was female. A rise of 1.2 per cent compared to 2015, according to the Female Professors Monitor that was presented last Tuesday. Conclusion: if developments continue at this pace, a balanced division between male and female professors will not be reached until 2051.

Erasmus Prize winner on diversity: “Universities should dare to make a statement”

Erasmus Prize winner on diversity: “Universities should dare to make a statement”

“It's time for more flexibility in PhD and career tracks, taking into account that people have or want to start a family.” Only then can you achieve diversity at the university. This statement comes from Harvard professor Michèle Lamont, who carries out research into diversity in areas such as science. The King presented the Erasmus Prize to her this week.

“Sacrifice one submarine to move forward in regenerative medicine”

“Sacrifice one submarine to move forward in regenerative medicine”

“He is not only an idol, he is my hero!”, were Professor Clemens van Blitterswijk’s words leaving the curious audience tempted to learn about the identity of this mystery man. His talk was one of the many that were given during TEDx Maastricht’s 5th anniversary, which took place this year at the MECC forum. This year’s theme ‘The process of inception’ was entertained by various speakers taking the stage, attempting to awe, inspire and motivate the public.

Myth: Investing in shares is a matter of buying cheaply and selling expensively

Myth: Investing in shares is a matter of buying cheaply and selling expensively

At parties, people often ask professor Jean-Jacques Herings for investment advice. One tip that Herings will not give them is: you have to buy cheaply and sell expensively. In theory, this is the best strategy, but in practice it is impossible to exe...

Myth: Fascism ended in 1945 with the defeat of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis in World War II

Myth: Fascism ended in 1945 with the defeat of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis in World War II

This weekend, thousands of neo-fascists demonstrated in Rome to “take back the streets from the intruders”. Right hands were raised and slogans like “Italy for Italians; stop immigration, stop illegals, throw out all intruders&rdquo...

Myth: Evidence-based healthcare treatments are automatically transferable to specific situations

Myth: Evidence-based healthcare treatments are automatically transferable to specific situations

How to decide which treatment, prevention programme or health policy to choose? For many doctors and policymakers the answer seems simple. You look at high-quality scientific studies and take the intervention that has proven to be the most effective....

Not for profit, but for people

​MAASTRICHT. Make medicines for people, not for profit. That is the message from Universities Allied for Essential Medicine (UAEM), the worldwide organisation that also has a Maastricht department. For next week, these students have organised Access to Medicine (A2M) Week.

“Learn to forgive yourself”

“Learn to forgive yourself”

Marihuana, LSD, heroin. Ex-junkie Marc Lewis devoured it all, preferably in high doses. He stole medicine from medical practices, was arrested on several occasions, and received a suspended prison sentence. Later on, Lewis - by now a professor of Neurosciences - wrote a book about his former life as an addict. He will give a lecture, organised by Studium Generale and the students of the Public Health Organisation, on 8 November.

Myth: Companies are only after maximizing their profits

Myth: Companies are only after maximizing their profits

Over a thousand deaths to regret and more than two thousand people injured. These were the sad consequences of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh on 24 April 2013. The day before, cracks were discovered in the walls of the eight-story building. Al...

"Without sexy master’s programmes, it’s going to be difficult"

"Without sexy master’s programmes, it’s going to be difficult"

SBE dean Philip Vergauwen himself agrees that he is leaving prematurely. The strategic overhaul of his faculty is still in full swing. But the offer from the Solvay business school in Brussels was, he says, simply too good to turn down. Observant talks with him about his toughest moments as dean, SBE as an outsider, and the ‘selling’ of research.

Tackling teachers’ workload with a game

MAASTRICHT. Who is your research interesting for, and why? This is the question that the researchers participating in the first Maastricht University Impact Course have tried to answer in recent months. Last Tuesday five of them presented their proposals for making a bigger impact with their research to a jury at the Brandweer Kantine, in the hopes of winning the 1000 euro prize.

Double myth: The contraceptive pill is harmless / The contraceptive pill causes thrombosis

Double myth: The contraceptive pill is harmless / The contraceptive pill causes thrombosis

“I don't want to scare you,” says Hugo ten Cate, professor of Clinical Thrombosis and Haemostasis, every time he gives a lecture on the relation between the contraceptive pill and thrombosis to third-year medical students. &ldquo...

Myth: low interest rates can't last

Myth: low interest rates can't last

“When interest rates have been low for some time, people are likely to think that they can rise at any moment,” says Dennis Bams, professor of Risk Management at the School of Business and Economics. “That is of course not so strang...

“Please, follow your dreams”

“Please, follow your dreams”

MAASTRICHT. Nobel Prize winner Ben Feringa can still be nervous before an interview, especially in front of young people. “They sometimes ask these bright questions.” Last Tuesday, Brightlands Chemelot Campus organised a College Tour with Feringa, named after a popular TV series in which students ask questions. But why does it take place in the sports hall?

Myth: Lawyers make the difference during police interrogations

Myth: Lawyers make the difference during police interrogations

Crime suspects can bank on being invited by letter to come in for a chat at the local police station. In serious cases, suspects can even be picked up at any hour of the day or night. Fortunately, suspects are not on their own. Since 1 March 2016, la...

One European research grant for Maastricht

One European research grant for Maastricht

MAASTRICHT. Vera Schrauwen-Hinderling has received a so-called ‘starting grant’ from the European Research Council. The amount could be up to 1.5 million euro.  She intends to use the money to develop a method to measure the promising compound NAD+, which is formed during exercising.

“Research in unfamiliar territory is the most exciting. And the most frustrating”

“Research in unfamiliar territory is the most exciting. And the most frustrating”

A predictive machine is what you might call the brain, because it is constantly trying to predict what will happen. In a conversation, for example, it tries to ‘guess’ which word will follow and when. Cognitive neuroscientist Sanne ten Oever wants to unravel exactly how the brain does this. She won the Edmond Hustinx Prize, but unfortunately couldn't be present to accept the award.

Myth: Illegal downloading is here to stay

Myth: Illegal downloading is here to stay

In 2012, the Dutch providers Ziggo and XS4All blocked The Pirate Bay, the website that epitomizes the download culture. The block lasted two years, but had very little effect: 70 per cent of the downloaders appeared to have found alternative routes t...

Myth: If children listen to Mozart, they become smarter

Myth: If children listen to Mozart, they become smarter

Available online at amazon.com: A Baby Einstein playpen with music by Mozart and Bach, a ‘self-discovery mobile’ to hang above the crib, with classical melodies and Baby 2 Be, a CD especially for unborn children, to listen to from the wom...

“I am for Europe so that is what I wrote. You wouldn't believe the number of hate mails I received”

“I am for Europe so that is what I wrote. You wouldn't believe the number of hate mails I received”

Brexit was inevitable; the British had been in “sabotage mode” for years, says Caroline de Gruyter, Europe correspondent for NRC Handelsblad in Vienna. Their constant hacking away at Europe was disruptive and fuelled Euroscepticism in other countries. The tide now seems to be turning. De Gruyter is the keynote speaker next Saturday during the celebrations of the fifteenth anniversary of the bachelor's programme of European Studies.

UM neuroscientist nominated for Wetenschapstalent

UM neuroscientist nominated for Wetenschapstalent

MAASTRICHT. UM neuroscientist Michelle Moerel, researcher at the Centre for Systems Biology MaCSBio, has been nominated for the Wetenschapstalent 2017 competition. Moerel, who carries out research on the human hearing, is one of the 25 young scientis...

Myth: Dyslexics have an imbalance between the left and right hemisphere

Myth: Dyslexics have an imbalance between the left and right hemisphere

Rope-skipping, practising motor skills, ‘reading’ plastic letters with your fingers, or ‘flashing’ letters and words in the left or right visual field. These are all methods of treatment that are regularly offered to children ...

Europe, it’s all about peace

Europe, it’s all about peace

Are things getting better again with Europe? After his victory, Emmanuel Macron is accompanied by the tones of what we in Europe have come to refer to as the European hymn – Beethoven’s Ode an die Freude; Alle Menschen werden Brüder – when he walks towards his supporters. Better? That remains to be seen, because recent European history is ridden with crises. And Euroscepticism is greater than ever, strengthened by an “intellectual vacuum” and “memory loss,” says Swiss historian Stella Ghervas, lecturer at Harvard. She wants to fight against this with the weapon of her discipline: historical analysis. In order to retrieve the Idea of Europe.

BMJ editor-in-chief's lecture on sloppy science

BMJ editor-in-chief's lecture on sloppy science

MAASTRICHT. It is the first time that an editor-in-chief of a top scientific journal is appointed as a professor at the UM. Fiona Godlee, from BMJ (British Medical Journal), will give her inaugural speech ‘Better evidence for better health’, next week.

Oxford University Press journals behind a paywall

Oxford University Press journals behind a paywall

THE NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. Dutch scientists are soon to lose access to Oxford University Press journals, now that the negotiations with the association of universities VSNU on open access have failed.

Myth: As robots and computers become smarter, we will be released from our responsibility

Myth: As robots and computers become smarter, we will be released from our responsibility

Self-driving cars, drones used in war zones, robots used to carry out surgical operations. Examples of computers playing a major role, but what happens if something goes wrong? What if a self-driving car doesn't stop at a zebra crossing? Who is r...

Stand up for science

Stand up for science

MAASTRICHT. No science no evidence, no truth, no democracy. That is the idea behind the March for Science, an initiative that has been embraced around the world. On Saturday 22 April, a march will be organised in about 430 cities, including Maas...

Myth: doctors can do a lot these days

Myth: doctors can do a lot these days

When prof. Harald Schmidt was a student, many lecturers and students raved about the holistic approach in medicine. Schmidt did not want to have anything to do with that “woolly babble”. He felt that if someone had a heart problem, y...

Myth: International organisations have too much power

Myth: International organisations have too much power

International organisations such as NATO and the United Nations were founded after the Second World War, just like the predecessor to the European Union, the European Coal and Steel Community. Some people feel that they are too powerful and that too ...

Myth-busting a myth busting

Myth-busting a myth busting

“Many ME-patients suffer from tremendous exhaustion for days after exercise, the so-called post-exertional malaise, or PEM. There were doubts as to whether the large British PACE trial was correct,” said professor of Internal Medicine and Immunology Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, a couple of weeks ago in the Myth Busters- series of Observant. The professors Trudie Chalder, Michael Sharpe and Peter White, who led this PACE trail on the chronic fatigue syndrome, are convinced that cognitive behaviour therapy and graded exercise therapy “are moderately effective and safe for patients with CFS/ME. To suggest that this is not the case is to propagate a myth”.

"You can't make a Dutchman from a Chinese"

"You can't make a Dutchman from a Chinese"

To what extent is the behaviour of managers influenced by culture? Former UM professor Geert Hofstede was the first to ask that question and in doing so became world-famous. His book Culture’s Consequences (1980) has been quoted more than 80 thousand times. American research is doubtful about his conclusions, claiming that it is in particular the circumstances that determine the style of management.

Myth: ME is a mental illness

Myth: ME is a mental illness

Patients are not just a little bit tired, but are permanently exhausted. Sleeping doesn't help much - if they can sleep properly at all - and they usually pay a high price for any physical exertion: remaining even more tired than they were, for d...

New Tefaf professor: Jan Hoeijmakers

New Tefaf professor: Jan Hoeijmakers

MAASTRICHT. The Rotterdam geneticist Jan Hoeijmakers, in broader circles known as the “ageing professor”, will hold the Tefaf chair for 2017. This annually alternating chair for cancer research, sponsored by art fair Tefaf, comes under research institute GROW.

Dissertation Award: Even maps are political

Dissertation Award: Even maps are political

MAASTRICHT. How Israelis and Palestinians make maps – it’s not the most obvious of research topics. Surprising, too, is the proposition that your physical place in the world, with all its historical and political baggage, largely determines what you see and thus also how you are likely to draw a map. Yet this is the core of the PhD research by the American Jess Bier, who not only conceived of and carried out the project but even won a prize – the UM Dissertation Award 2016 – for what the jury described as her ‘extremely original scholarship’.

Myth: older people work less hard

Myth: older people work less hard

You can't expect too much from older employees. Young ones are faster, more creative, and more intelligent. At least, that is the widespread idea. And with an ageing population and a retirement age that is constantly being pushed back, employers ...

Myth: COPD is an incurable disease

Myth: COPD is an incurable disease

“An incurable disease? We are inclined to think that it leads to death.” Nothing could be farther from the truth in the case of the lung disease COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), says Annemie Schols, professor of Nutrition and...

Myth: Sex is a natural urge

Myth: Sex is a natural urge

“Many people think that sex has to be spontaneous, that it is artificial if you agree on a time in your schedule. Nonsense,” says Marieke Dewitte, psychologist and sexologist at Maastricht University. In her own practice, she sees couples...

On secret plans and the love of dachshunds

On secret plans and the love of dachshunds

MAASTRICHT. That Maastricht has a university at all, let alone one with a fairly solid reputation, is often said to be a miracle. For much of its history the Rijksuniversiteit Limburg (RL) (later Maastricht University, UM) was fighting an uphill battle, as the anniversary book given to all employees this week testifies once again.

Making the world a little cleaner in Chemelot

Making the world a little cleaner in Chemelot

In a few years’ time you might find yourself sleeping under a blanket of sustainable plastic; plastic so refined and ‘natural’ it can be used to make textiles. Or perhaps your smartphone cover will be plastic made from sugar beets. At the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM), research is underway on the development of sustainable materials for a cleaner world. The institute will be officially opened on Friday 9 December.

“In four years’ time, I want to be a Doctor and a doctor”

“In four years’ time, I want to be a Doctor and a doctor”

Nousjka Vranken (25), first-year physician and clinical researcher, can’t really say there was a special moment when she thought: ‘I want to be a researcher,’ but by now everything is pointing in that direction. For four years, she has worked part-time as a research assistant at MUMC+’s department of Heart Surgery, two years ago her first article was published and last week she won the public’s award in the category ‘Medical and Health’ at the national Student Research Conference in Nijmegen.

BMJ editor in chief becomes UM professor

BMJ editor in chief becomes UM professor

MAASTRICHT. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the top medical journal BMJ (British Medical Journal), will become a professor at Maastricht University. The chair was set up by the national research school CaRe, of which the Maastricht institute Caphri is a part. “I think our PhD candidates now have a greater chance of writing a top publication.”

Privacy and cybersecurity research centre

Privacy and cybersecurity research centre

MAASTRICHT. The Maastricht European Centre on Privacy and Cybersecurity (ECPC) is a new research institute at the Faculty of Law.

“I’ll have him by the scruff of his neck”

“I’ll have him by the scruff of his neck”

The presence of Maastricht University can be felt not just in the inner city and Randwyck. A whole range of activities are underway in different places around the province, such as on the Chemelot campus near Geleen. But what exactly? Observant paid a visit to Center Court, which came into operation in August.

Award for study on vegetable consumption among toddlers

Award for study on vegetable consumption among toddlers

MAASTRICHT. The Catharina Pijls Encouragement Award 2016 goes to former student Michelle Vellinga. Her prize-winning master thesis examines how teachers can encourage kindergarten pupils to eat more vegetables. The prize is awarded annually to a recent UM graduate in the health sciences and is accompanied by a €2,000 cheque.
 

New university professor and institute for Data Sciences

New university professor and institute for Data Sciences

MAASTRICHT. UM has appointed a fourth university professor in the field of Data Science. Canadian Michel Dumontier (1975) is senior lecturer at Stanford University and will also lead a new Maastricht institute for Data Sciences.

Tans Lecture: “The misunderstandings and false claims drew me to the topic”

Tans Lecture: “The misunderstandings and false claims drew me to the topic”

‘Healing thoughts’, the idea that the mind influences the body – is it all just pseudoscience? Miracles we shouldn’t believe in? In her book Cure, British science journalist Jo Marchant provides a critical exploration of this new area. She interviewed scientists who are investigating or have found evidence that our thoughts can ease pain or heal wounds. On Tuesday 1 November she will deliver the annual Tans Lecture at Maastricht University.

Stressed? Take Ritalin

Stressed? Take Ritalin

Ritalin, Adderall, Modafinil. Are SBE students taking ‘study drugs’ more often? Research by honours students shows that one in seven students from SBE has on occasion taken a ‘cognitive enhancer’. But also that the stress and the competitiveness at the faculty promote their use. Board member Huub Meijers: "I know that students feel that way, but I don’t recognise that picture.”

Nobel chemistry prize sparks delight from mini-motor maker

Nobel chemistry prize sparks delight from mini-motor maker

THE NETHERLANDS. Sparks of delight flew as Dutch scientist Ben Feringa jointly won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for his work in creating miniscule motors.

Starving and abusing your own body

Starving and abusing your own body

By the end of her study programme Anne Marsman had reached the end of her rope. She was having trouble remembering things and vomiting more and more often. What was going on? Back then she was as closed as an oyster, but now the Maastricht PhD candidate talks frankly about her ordeal, keen to dispel the common prejudices about eating disorders and depression. This weekend she will take part in the Social Run relay race: 555 kilometres in 48 hours, to combat the stigmatisation of psychiatric patients.

From coal mining to data mining

From coal mining to data mining

MAASTRICHT. Mandela, Einstein, cycling, nature, the physicist Robert Dijkgraaf and finally a shot from space. The intended effect of the promotional film that kicked off the opening programme of the Smart Services Campus in Heerlen may not be immediately obvious, but the link with smart services should become clear soon enough.

An ambitious physicist, a “hard ass”

An ambitious physicist, a “hard ass”

The exclamation ‘Eureka’ would be appropriate, having invented a small, portable tester that can be used to prevent bacterial outbreaks in hospitals. But physicist and assistant professor Bart van Grinsven is more like ‘mmm that’s funny’, as he quotes American writer and biochemist Isaac Asimov. Van Grinsven received the Edmond Hustinx Prize last Monday during the opening ceremony of the academic year. “As a scientist, I have a goal in mind, I’m very much a believer in science for society.”

“Europe! Practice what you preached!”

“Europe! Practice what you preached!”

Reconciliation and empathy – these were the driving forces behind the unification of Europe. And these are precisely the values that can pull Europe out of  its crisis today, said Professor Mathieu Segers in his speech during the official opening of the academic year.

“If you leave the system, you won’t survive”

“If you leave the system, you won’t survive”

Scientific articles should first and foremost be made available in a database that is freely accessible to everyone and only after that be published in journals. Surprisingly, this statement comes from the editor-in-chief of the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ). An interview with Fiona Godlee.

Former UM professor’s articles withdrawn

Former UM professor’s articles withdrawn

MAASTRICHT. There are doubts about the scientific reliability of three articles by James Hunton, a former American professor of Accountancy who was also a professor at Maastricht University during the first decade of this century. This was announced by the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) last Tuesday after an investigation by a Scientific Integrity Committee. The articles concerned relate to Erasmus University Rotterdam, where Hunton worked part time from 2009 until 2012.

Blogging about PhD life

Blogging about PhD life

MAASTRICHT. When Irina Burlacu from Moldova finished her Ph.D. at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, she realized something. “Only a few people will ever read my thesis. It’s technical and there are so many Ph.D. theses; who has time to read them all. I didn’t want that to happen. It was the outcome of years of work.” So how could she – and other researchers – reach a broader audience? The answer: Researchista, a blog about life as a researcher.

“Germany supposed to be strong and weak at the same time”

“Germany supposed to be strong and weak at the same time”

Germany – but where is it located? These words by the poet Friedrich Schiller were used by Irish historian Brendan Simms as a point of departure for his Schuman lecture, organised by Studium Generale.

What does a daisy look like?

What does a daisy look like?

“Noooo! That was a super plant, so cool.” “Whoops”, says the other student, removing his foot from the “cool” plant. The pair continue their search through the fields. Last Tuesday morning, the students of the Maastricht Science Programme joined their lecturer and researcher Roy Erkens at the Lage Fronten as part of their course Field Skills in Biology.

Polish your image by buying art

Polish your image by buying art

MAASTRICHT. Where does all the money that is being pumped into the art market actually come from? “There is too little discussion about this question. It is about a lot of money, sometimes with dubious origins.” Olav Velthuis, associate professor at the University of Amsterdam and specialized in Economic and Cultural Sociology, delivers the keynote speech at the MACCH conference in the Bonnefanten Museum on 19 March: About whitewashing reputations in the art market.

Not afraid of a critical rethinking of her own theories

Not afraid of a critical rethinking of her own theories

MAASTRICHT. “I’m an undisciplined TEFAF visitor and will simply enjoy a luxurious wander through the extraordinary variety of objects on view”, says Pip Laurenson. “But I’ll be sure to see the Joseph Beuys show Show Your Wound being curated by Mark Kremer as part of this year’s fair.” Laurenson (1965) is professor of Art Collection and Care at Maastricht University and head of Collection Care Research at Tate in London.

“I preach for more investment in art facilities”

“I preach for more investment in art facilities”

MAASTRICHT. She is the first professor of Arts and Finance in the world. “The culture of finance is in need of change, and art can help to make it fairer, freer and more ethical”, says Prof. Rachel Pownall. In addition to her chair at UM, she is also a professor at Tilburg University and collaborates with the Van Gogh Museum and other institutions.

“The brain is like an orchestra”

“The brain is like an orchestra”

It’s a world first: the combination of three different techniques for brain research. Alexander Sack, professor of Functional Brain Stimulation and Neurocognitive Psychology, aims to develop new brain stimulation methods to treat people with attention and memory problems following a stroke. Two weeks ago he was awarded a Vici grant for this research.

Vici grant for neuroscientist Sack

Vici grant for neuroscientist Sack

MAASTRICHT. Alexander Sack, professor of Functional Brain Stimulation and Neurocognitive Psychology, has received a Vici grant worth €1.5 million for his research on brain stimulation. Sack focuses on brain-stimulation techniques for treating me...

‘Arab Nobel Prize’ for genetics

‘Arab Nobel Prize’ for genetics

MAASTRICHT. Professors Han Brunner and Joris Veltman have won the King Faisal Prize in the category of Medicine, referred to by some as the ‘Arab Nobel Prize’. The researchers, who play a leading role in clinical genetics, will travel to Saudi Arabia to receive the prize from the king in March.

Completely ruined

Completely ruined

MAASTRICHT. Holocene, Pleistocene, Palaeocene. All well known, but have you ever heard of Anthropocene? According to Christian Schwägerl, we are in the middle of that right now. The German biologist and journalist claims that there is actually no single place on earth that has not been ‘ruined’ by man. Schwägerl will give a Studium Generale lecture on this subject in January, on the same day as the FASoS congress on the history of nature conservation.

Deal between Elsevier and universities after all

Deal between Elsevier and universities after all

THE NETHERLANDS. The Association of Universities (VSNU) and publisher Reed Elsevier have reached an agreement in principle. At the very last minute. Because if no agreement had been reached by 31 December on the renewal of subscriptions and open...

Pharmaceutical companies keep the price high, but medicines don’t need to be so expensive

Pharmaceutical companies keep the price high, but medicines don’t need to be so expensive

MAASTRICHT. It is about time that everyone has access to the right medicines, whether you live in America, Europe or Africa. At the moment the pharmaceutical industry has so much power that they can keep prices high. The UM wants to do something about this and signed the Socially Responsible Research and Licensing Policy this week. Ellen ’t Hoen, expert in the field of medicine policies and intellectual property, told how pharmaceutical companies keep the prices of medicines so high that they are unaffordable for patients in developing countries.

Lustrum with three honorary doctors

Lustrum with three honorary doctors

MAASTRICHT. On the occasion of its fortieth anniversary, the UM is awarding three honorary doctorates during the foundation day celebrations. One goes to German pharmacologist Detlev Ganten, who has lectured his critics on more than one occasion. Another to American legal and political scientist Susan Rose-Ackerman, who is so versatile that almost every legal scientist knows her. And to Belgian economist Paul De Grauwe, who is a magnet for the media.

Science students win NWO competition

Science students win NWO competition

MAASTRICHT. Three students from the Maastricht Science Programme won the NWO Top Sector Chemistry Student Competition last week. Onno Akkermans, Mitch Spronck and Pegah Keshaniyan went home with one thousand euro each. They created a bit with a built...

“Young researchers aren’t panicking – that came as a surprise”

“Young researchers aren’t panicking – that came as a surprise”

Twenty-eight days to go. Will the Dutch universities manage by 31 December to reach an agreement with the publisher Reed Elsevier? The arduous negotiations have been going on for months. Universities are only prepared to keep their wagons hitched to the publisher if it takes steps towards open access, making academic articles freely accessible. “If they don’t come up with something new by 1 January, things are going to have to change”, says Henk van den Hoogen, programme manager at the University Library.

“Apes can control themselves for about 20 minutes”

“Apes can control themselves for about 20 minutes”

Do chimpanzees have free will? What can we learn from apes? Last Tuesday, psychology students gathered for a masterclass by the world-renowned primatologist Frans de Waal. As it turns out, not everyone is a fan of De Waal – there are chimpanzees that throw rocks at him.

Dutch government initiates animal-free testing fund

Dutch government initiates animal-free testing fund

THE NETHERLANDS. The Dutch government wants to set up a new investment fund which will put money into developing animal-free research.

Research in an aquarium

Research in an aquarium

More often than not, a lab consists of isolated ‘corners’ where research groups work with their own equipment. This kind of fragmentation is a thing of the past in the new lab run by the department of surgery and the M4I institute, respec...

First-year students’ feelings matter

First-year students’ feelings matter

MAASTRICHT. Brains are important, but we shouldn’t ignore the influence of emotions such as hopelessness or enjoyment on students’ learning process, says Alexandra Niculescu, a Romanian psychologist who will defend her PhD thesis tomorrow, Friday 16 October, at Maastricht University. “We need to invest in how students feel, but not by sending them to a study counsellor right away. We can support them at course level by giving them frequent and structured feedback.”

2,000 euro for UM thesis

MAASTRICHT. Ingrid Kremer, a recent graduate from the research master’s of Health Sciences, has won the Catharina Pijls Aanmoedigingsprijs (Catharina Pijls encouragement prize) for her thesis on MS medication. This annual prize, specifically for Maastricht Health Sciences graduates, consists of two thousand euro, to be spent at the winner’s discretion.

Four Maastricht scientists in VIVA400

Four Maastricht scientists in VIVA400

MAASTRICHT. Four Maastricht scientists have been nominated for the Dutch VIVA400 award. Last year, the honour fell upon UM postdoc Anne Leferink, in the ‘Knappe Koppen’ (Whizz Kid) category.

NIP wants to talk with Maastricht psychologists

NIP wants to talk with Maastricht psychologists

The Dutch Institute for Psychologists (NIP), which recently reprimanded Prof. Corine de Ruiter, wants to speak about this with UM psychologists. The Executive Board states that they have “complete faith” in De Ruiter. The Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences has created a committee of “eminent persons” to investigate the matter.

Nijmegen researchers win prize for research into ‘Huh’

THE NETHERLANDS. Three researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen have won one of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes – for discovering that the word ‘huh’ or similar sounding words are used in almost every language.

UM student did fieldwork in Iraq, 30 km from IS

UM student did fieldwork in Iraq, 30 km from IS

“Since the seventies the Iraqi Kurds have been constantly exposed to violence and threats”, says Hanife Masoomifar, a Canadian master’s student from the School of Governance who did his fieldwork in the capital of Erbil in July. “There was the war between Iraq and Iran, the aggression of Saddam Hussein, including chemical weapons, the Gulf War and now IS. There’s an old Kurdish proverb that says, ‘The Kurds have no friends but the mountains’.”

A bit with Bluetooth to combat tooth grinding

A bit with Bluetooth to combat tooth grinding

MAASTRICHT. It hardly ever happens: bachelor’s students obtaining a NWO grant. Nevertheless, this is exactly what three students from the Maastricht Science Program managed to do. Before the summer, they received 27 thousand euro, for a subject that doesn’t immediately make you think ‘science’: bruxism. Otherwise known as tooth grinding.

Health in the hands of Google

Health in the hands of Google

MAASTRICHT. How many calories did you eat this morning? And how many steps have you taken since breakfast? No doubt some people will be able to get out their mobile phone, click on an app and find the exact answer to these questions. Personalised healthcare technology like this is what philosopher Tamar Sharon’s research is about. She was awarded the Edmond Hustinx Prize for Science during the Opening of the Academic Year last Monday.

Drinking water won’t cure a hangover say Dutch researchers

Drinking water won’t cure a hangover say Dutch researchers

MAASTRICHT. Dutch scientists studying the consequences of drinking too much have concluded that eating food and drinking water make no difference to a hangover, despite the popular belief that they do.

About step counters and brain surgery

About step counters and brain surgery

MAASTRICHT. Among the names of the 25 young Dutch and Belgian researchers competing for a new research prize, the New Scientist Wetenschapstalent 2015, there are two from Maastricht: neurosurgeon Yasin Temel (38) and philosopher Tamar Sharon (40).

"We don’t import researchers, we export research questions"

"We don’t import researchers, we export research questions"

MAASTRICHT. There was a time when there were great plans: Maastricht University was going to conquer India. Those plans have been readjusted in the meantime and it appears that only the Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences has made a success of its co-operation with India. It is a matter of great patience, investing a lot of time, and focusing on research projects that fit in with the UM’s existing themes. For the Dutch embassy in New Delhi, the ‘Maastricht Method’ – having led to some thirty PhD research projects, the first award ceremony of 2015  being next Thursday – is an example for Dutch institutes that want to do business with India.

"Splitting up Ukraine is misplaced"

"Splitting up Ukraine is misplaced"

MAASTRICHT. It wouldn’t surprise him if the conflict in Ukraine rekindled. In the latest Minsk Treaty, the aggressors (the separatists) came out best, which implies: aggression pays off. This is the opinion of Arkady Moshes, an expert on the relations between the EU and Russia. Next week, he will give the Schuman lecture, organised by Studium Generale, on the conflict in Ukraine and the growing gulf between Russia and the EU.

Denying Armenian genocide no longer possible

Denying Armenian genocide no longer possible

MAASTRICHT. In many countries, the Armenian genocide of 1915 will be commemorated on 24 April. However, the facts and especially the use of the term, are still extremely controversial. Professor of Turkish Studies Erik-Jan Zürcher, from Leiden, argues that more attention should be given to the matter.

“Current physics is a mess”

“Current physics is a mess”

A mess, or less slightingly, a cookery book: physics is a collection of recipes from a variety of cuisines. This is the view of physicist Ronald Westra, who organised the two-day masterclass New physics, beyond the standard model, together with the Science Programme, and brought a number of big shots to the UM. Is there or is there not going to be an Einstein telescope at a depth of 100 metres in South Limburg?

Universities may appoint 2,000 PhD students

Universities may appoint 2,000 PhD students

NETHERLANDS/MAASTRICHT. The government announced last week that universities will be given a period of eight years to experiment with PhD programmes in which candidates receive a grant instead of a salary. The Netherlands PhD Network (Promovendi Netwerk Nederland) rejects the plans. Maastricht rector Luc Soete is cautious.

One-million euro magnet

One-million euro magnet

MAASTRICHT. Tuesday morning, just before 9 o’clock, the truck from Amsterdam arrives at the grounds of UNS 50. It has a 9.4 Tesla magnet on board, the showpiece in professor Ron Heeren’s lab. The magnet, which cost a million euro, was tra...

Dissertation prize for Ann-Kristin Zobel

MAASTRICHT. Her work as a postdoc at Berkeley did not make it easy for her to ‘just pop over’ to Maastricht in order to accept the dissertation prize during the Dies celebration, last Friday. But a recently born baby made planning even more difficult. Ann-Kristin Zobel (27), originally from Germany, received full praise for her dissertation on innovation in businesses, which she defended in December 2013. She received €3,500 on behalf of the Professors’ Fund.

Two economists in top 40

MAASTRICHT. The latest Dutch ‘Economentop 40’ (Top 40 Economists), which was recently published by the journal Economisch Statistische Berichten (ESB), only includes two researchers from Maastricht University. Senior lecturer Nils Kok, who obtained an NWO vidi grant last year, is in 32nd place, and Jean-Jacques Herings, professor of Microeconomics, in 38th place.

Film: Thesis Prize winners on their topics

MAASTRICHT. Sven Klijn (Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, on the left) and Matthias Vos (Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience) are two of the seventeen bachelor Thesis Prize winners. In this film they explain what their research is abo...

Access to thousands of journals in danger of being blocked

Access to thousands of journals in danger of being blocked

MAASTRICHT. A sinister radio silence is all that is left, after negotiations between Dutch universities and Reed Elsevier publishers have failed. Licences are due to run out on 1 January and researchers will no longer be able to read the latest editions of many journals, including The Lancet.

PhD bonus scrapped

MAASTRICHT/THE NETHERLANDS> Universities will no longer receive a fixed amount for every PhD. thesis. An end will be put to the so-called PhD bonus, education minister Jet Bussemaker and state secretary Sander Dekker announced today. At the ...

Students choose an honorary doctor for the first time

Students choose an honorary doctor for the first time

MAASTRICHT. Four honorary doctorates will be awarded at the coming celebration of the university’s founding day. Remarkably, half of them are for social rather than academic merits: Frans Timmermans and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Another novelty is the fact that students nominated the latter.

The Selbsthass of the Germans

The Selbsthass of the Germans

MAASTRICHT. Who is to blame? That is the question that professor Christopher Clark raises in his latest book The sleepwalkers: how Europe went to war in 1914. According to the Australian historian, an unequivocal answer cannot be given. His Maastricht colleague Georgi Verbeeck does not quite agree. Clark is scheduled to give the Tans lecture, organised by Studium Generale, next week.

Universities quarrel with publishing company Elsevier

Universities quarrel with publishing company Elsevier

NETHERLANDS. Negotiations between the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) and publishing company Elsevier about subscription fees have failed. If the conflict remains unresolved, students and researchers can no longer view new articles as of next year.

Why so many Germans 'infiltrate' SBE

Why so many Germans 'infiltrate' SBE

Doing research? How does that work? All newcomers at University College Maastricht are given compulsory lessons on this subject at the moment. At the end of their first year, they combine their knowledge in a research project. They are free in their choice of subject, provided it can be done within four weeks. Observant interviewed five groups from last year. Topics include stereotyping at the UM, a week without Facebook and WhatsApp, and German infiltration at SBE.

Dutch university in worldwide top 50 QS ranking

Dutch university in worldwide top 50 QS ranking

THE NETHERLANDS. Never before has a Dutch university been among the fifty best universities in the world in an international ranking. The University of Amsterdam managed it in the latest QS ranking. Maastricht is in 118th place. Just like in other w...

Budget for higher education: waiting for the money

Budget for higher education: waiting for the money

THE NETHERLANDS. Universities and schools of higher education are to receive hardly any extra money for their education programmes next year. This became clear from the National budget for 2015, which was presented on Tuesday on the day of the King’s speech. The cabinet will only delve into its purse for research and innovation.

“Leading in earning”

“Leading in earning”

MAASTRICHT. Researchers do not read each other’s articles, they only keep tally. And anyway, who wants to do research anymore, knowing that it takes years before you are even given a permanent contract? A group of students and staff members critically voiced their opinions on higher education in 2014 in Landbouwbelang on Monday evening, 1 September.

Opening academic year about disfavouring women

Opening academic year about disfavouring women

MAASTRICHT. The procession is different this time. The opening of the academic year is always marked by a procession of professors from the Minderbroedersberg to the Vrijthof Theatre. A procession of important men and an occasional woman, because that’s the way it is in the world of academia.

“Feeling insecure is not exclusive to women”

“Feeling insecure is not exclusive to women”

MAASTRICHT. Successful women are not superhuman. They fight to get where they are, fall along the way and battle insecurity like the rest of us. This is a message that Dr Jennifer Barnes would like women to hear. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Strategy at the University of Cambridge will deliver the keynote speech at the Theater aan het Vrijthof on Monday 1 September. She spoke with Observant in Cambridge about opera singing, Dutch women and failure.

UM suspends animal experiments

UM suspends animal experiments

MAASTRICHT. UM has suspended its cardiology research using 39 Labradors after protests from the Anti Dierproeven Coalitie (anti-animal testing coalition, or ADC). By Tuesday morning, more than 100 thousand people had signed the ‘Free the Labradors’ petition.

A UM logo made from Nutella

A UM logo made from Nutella

MAASTRICHT. Pancakes, pasta, and performances with chocolate and sugar. ‘Printing’ food is not exactly common. Nevertheless, the UM is thinking of setting up an expertise centre. SBE students have already carried out a study on the matter.

Science Programme awards its first diplomas

Science Programme awards its first diplomas

MAASTRICHT. The Maastricht Science Programme will award its first bachelor’s diplomas in three weeks’ time. Where will the students end up? To which master’s will they be admitted? “Some of them already know,” says dean ...

What to do when you live to become a 100?

What to do when you live to become a 100?

MAASTRICHT. Students of today will live to be a 100 years, on average. What does one do with all that time? Rudi Westendorp, professor in geriatrics medicine at Leiden University and director of the Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing, advises them...

The unstoppable advance of food myths

The unstoppable advance of food myths

MAASTRICHT. Chinese human hair in bread, the nonsense concerning E-numbers, horsemeat being sold as beef, the hype around the goji berry. Nutrition is hot. Observant spoke to two professionals from Maastricht, a philosopher and a nutrition scientist. The discussion is often about food safety, while it should be about much more than that, says philosopher Dirk Haen. “How important is food to us? How do we prepare food, how do we consume?”

“Students were not to form an exclusive group”

“Students were not to form an exclusive group”

MAASTRICHT. How has the relationship between students and city changed over the past forty years? Which subjects dominated the debate? Dirk van de Leemput, alumnus from Arts and Social Sciences, delved into a stack of more than thirty years of issues of Observant and Maffius (Observant’s predecessor) in order to find out.

The ageing process of our brain

The ageing process of our brain

MAASTRICHT. How do our brains age? What is the underlying mechanism? Which factors determine the speed of the process? These types of questions constituted the basis of Roy Lardenoije’s research; he did the research master of Fundamental Neuroscience last year. In his master’s thesis – for which he won one of the 2013 Student Prizes – he looked into mice brains on a molecular level.

Analysis of a complicated article

Analysis of a complicated article

MAASTRICHT. Safeguarding existing catalogues of human rights and fundamental freedoms, that is what article 53 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is about. In short: member states may always provide their inhabitants with more...

Researcher’s fifteen seconds of fame

Researcher’s fifteen seconds of fame

MAASTRICHT. Can you trust journalists? A researcher who is not used to dealing with the media, can become quite nervous about a newspaper, radio, or TV interview. The fear that the research project will not be presented well or is even distorted, is often huge, say the writers of Prepare for 15 seconds of fame. Media contacts for researchers.

How many protrusions does this cell have?

How many protrusions does this cell have?

MAASTRICHT. Few people will have heard about the Kleefstra syndrome. It is a combination of a mental disability and autism. The illness was discovered in Nijmegen, at the Radboud University a few of years ago. The Maastricht molecular life sciences alumna Marise van de Molengraft was allowed to take part in the research project during her final traineeship, in order to learn more about this syndrome.

“I see bright researchers leaving the university”

“I see bright researchers leaving the university”

MAASTRICHT. The mensa at the Tongersestraat was overflowing last Tuesday evening for the debate on Science in Transition (SiT). Those expecting fireworks came away disappointed. There were no emotional exchanges, no confrontational altercations; the evening was civilised and at times even a bit dull. The discussion steered clear of typical SiT topics, such as rankings, perverse incentives in scientific publishing and the notion of the PhD ‘factory’. Instead, it focused on the workload, the plight of young researchers, the capacity – or otherwise – of students to think critically, and who really sets the research agenda.

Numbers go from left to right

Numbers go from left to right

MAASTRICHT. Small numbers belong on the left, large numbers on the right. Most Western people, who are used to writing from left to right, will instinctively agree with this. This is referred to as the natural number line, the way in which you arrang...

No rock star behaviour but modesty

MAASTRICHT. Tomorrow, on its 38th foundation day, Maastricht University will award five honorary doctorates. The three men and two women are from the United States, Great Britain, and Germany, from research fields including COPD, European Law, and MRI. All faculties proposed an honorary doctor, with the exception of Humanities & Sciences, where no suitable candidate has been presented.

Bridging cultural differences just across the border

Bridging cultural differences just across the border

MAASTRICHT. When Maastricht was still in the running for European Capital of Culture 2018, there was a great deal of talk about Euregional co-operation. But how much cultural interaction is there in fact between Liège and Maastricht? European Studies alumna Célia Hanssen did research on this topic for her thesis.

“Turning 100 wasn’t very special to them”

MAASTRICHT. The Netherlands has almost 2,000 centenarians. And while nobody is particularly keen on growing old themselves, people seem to be fascinated by centenarians. For their Marble project, five Arts and Culture students interviewed nine centenarians and examined the representation of old age in culture.

How effective is the examination of witnesses?

How effective is the examination of witnesses?

MAASTRICHT. How effective and efficient are examinations of witnesses in court? This was the question to which law students Hannah Jans, Rianne Mertens, Frank Hoogers and Vera Poels tried to find an answer. They attended more than a hundred examinations. 

Obstetrician present during labour? It’ll cost you extra

Obstetrician present during labour? It’ll cost you extra

MAASTRICHT. Informal (also known as under-the-table) payments in Central and Eastern Europe are higher and more frequent for maternity care than for any other type of medical care. This is one of the conclusions of a broader research project on out-o...

How to measure openness?

How to measure openness?

MAASTRICHT. How transparent are national and local governments really? That is what the students participating in the Marble project ‘Transparency’ wondered last year. Each of them focused on a subject from their own perspective. 

The American era is over

The American era is over

MAASTRICHT. What economic order will arise from the ruins of the 2008 financial crisis? This remains unclear, but in any event, the key is to prevent business leaders from striving for disastrous business goals. So argued professor emeritus Geert Hofstede in his lecture ‘Beyond growth, greed and quarterly results’, organised last Tuesday by Studium Generale.

Tutorial group diversification made easy

Tutorial group diversification made easy

MAASTRICHT. How to ensure that a tutorial group is as diverse as possible? Florentijn Hogerwerf, now a master’s student at Econometrics and Operations Research, developed an algorithm and wrote a bachelor’s thesis on the subject.

“In Germany, a doctorate is also a social achievement”

“In Germany, a doctorate is also a social achievement”

MAASTRICHT. Another German politician is suspected of plagiarism. This time it concerns the chairman of the social democrat party SPD, whose thesis allegedly contains 500 dubious references. What is the matter with the dissertations of German politicians? Observant asked German scientists and managers at the UM.

What is the impact of one vote?

What is the impact of one vote?

MAASTRICHT. Imagine that you have been voting for the Liberals for years. This time, however, you fear that – if they become the largest party in the elections – they will form a coalition with a party you don’t like. To prevent thi...

What can you get from a photograph?

What can you get from a photograph?

MAASTRICHT. How to describe someone you only know from a photograph? Friendly? Authoritarian? Reliable? Competent? That was the key question in the Marble research by Roderick Bronzwaer, who completed his bachelor’s in Psychology in July. For t...

The chicken or the egg

The chicken or the egg

MAASTRICHT. It’s not his first prize. Olivier Marie has already been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship that gives researchers the opportunity to gain experience abroad, and in 2012 he received the Veni grant from the Dutch research organisation NWO. Last Monday a jury unanimously awarded the Edmond Hustinx prize to the assistant professor at the School of Business and Economics for his ongoing research on the associations between labour market opportunities and criminal participation.

‘Speaking’ without making a sound

‘Speaking’ without making a sound

MAASTRICHT. Imagine: you are completely conscious, you understand everything that is going on around you, but you cannot move or communicate. This is what patients suffering from locked-in syndrome experience. Would it not be great if a small device ...

Cultivated meat or artificial meat?

Cultivated meat or artificial meat?

MAASTRICHT. Two thirds of the Dutch people support the cultivation of meat, according to a survey carried out by Flycatcher research agency among 1,200 Dutch respondents. The reason for the study was the presentation of a hamburger cultivated by Mark...

We love…. The world of fans

We love…. The world of fans

A Susan Boyle Fan community, Game of Thrones fan site, Sherlock Holmes Fan Club site. These are just a few examples in a vast jungle. Fans of television series, films, games, or music express themselves in all manner of ways. Virtually on blog sites or forums, but also in real life at meetings. There will be a conference about fan cultures, called Making and Sharing, or MASH for short, in the Maastricht art house Lumière on Thursday 4 and Friday 5 July.

André Rieu as a research object

André Rieu as a research object

MAASTRICHT. Four Maastricht researchers are going to study the ‘phenomenon’ of André Rieu. They want to find out what the secret is behind this Maastricht violinist and orchestra conductor. Why does his music appeal to such a broad public...

“Losing weight through sports is difficult”

“Losing weight through sports is difficult”

Visits to the gym, cycling from home to university, anything from football to squash, slack lining or yoga sessions – sports are part of most students’ lives. What is the effect of regular exercise? Why exactly are sports beneficial? This is the fourth instalment in the series ‘Science of student life’.

Exploring the passion for research

MAASTRICHT. A dark red curtain, a wooden table, an illuminated globe and famous books of critical minds – the organisers of Just being Curious have inventively decorated the stage in UCM’s common room for an evening dedicated to ‘th...

PhD candidates remain employees for the moment

NETHERLANDS. Universities are disappointed, but PhD candidates are relieved. The cabinet decided at the last minute not to give "PhD student" a status in the Higher Education Act. Since the middle of the nineteen-nineties, universities hav...

Scientists’ white lies

Scientists’ white lies

It started with a tweet by a neuroscientist called Leigh, on January 7th, and since then the genie has been out of the bottle. Leigh twittered: “We did experiment 2 because we didn’t know what the fuck to make of experiment 1.” After that, thousands of scientists confessed their small white lies under hashtag ‘overlyhonestmethods’, which usually would not see the light of day. Let alone that they would be published.

One in four students is a problem drinker

One in four students is a problem drinker

A beer to socialise, wine with the dinner, large amounts of alcohol at the numerous parties – students obviously drink a lot. But what are the implications of our drinking behaviour for our health? This is the third instalment in the series ‘Science of Student Life’.

Nobel Prize winners fear for EU science budget

A delegation of Nobel Prize winners spoke with three top administrators of the European Union last week. They urged the politicians not to cut down on science. Six Fields Medal winners and 44 Nobel Prize winners, including Dutch-Russian physicist An...

Who lurks behind that characteristic moustache?

Who lurks behind that characteristic moustache?

History would have taken a different course if it hadn’t been for Adolf Hitler. Who was this man with his slick hair and peculiar moustache? What made so many people willing to follow him? British historian Laurence Rees will speak about this in next week's Tans Lecture .

Moving to the scanner lab

Moving to the scanner lab

Last Friday, the staff of the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience moved from Universiteitssingel 40 to Oxfordlaan 55, just a few metres away. Boxes, plants and other office gear were all brought to the new Psychology building, where the Maastricht B...

How to become a Nobel Prize winner?

How to become a Nobel Prize winner?

Work hard now, to be able to work harder in your later life! This was the advice of the Nobel Prize winner Harald zur Hausen (1936) to medical students yesterday at the Maastricht School of Management. The German virologist gave insight into the do&r...

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