NWO grants for AI research on privacy-preserving cancer studies and virtual harassment

Two projects by Utrecht University researchers are receiving a grant from the National Growth Fund program AINed. This funding will propel promising, innovative, and bold initiatives in the field of artificial intelligence, addressing pressing needs in healthcare and virtual reality.

Julian Frommel, Assistant Professor in the Interaction/Multimedia group of the Faculty of Science, will conduct research on harassment in virtual reality environments. His colleague Wilson dos Santos Silva, newly appointed at the same faculty, will focus on improving AI models that can learn from patient data from different hospitals without breaching privacy.

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Foto: Unsplash


PhD Day 2024 - Scientists of the Future

Are you a GSLS PhD candidate at Utrecht University? Join the PhD Day on July 1st 2024!

Every year the GSLS PhD Council organizes the PhD Day: an inspiring afternoon with plenary sessions and interactive workshops. The event will end with a dinner in the Botanical Gardens. This year's theme is 'Scientists of the Future'.

There are sessions about Open Science, AI, science communication, inclusion and more! Visit the website for the full program.

You can register before 10 June.


The energy transition under the nanoscope: Gravitation funding for ANION project

  • #chemistry
  • #physics

Bringing together chemists and physicists to thoroughly investigate how electrochemical processes work on the smallest scale. That is the goal of the new Advanced Nano-electrochemistry Institute of the Netherlands, or ANION for short. The consortium receives a Gravitation funding of 23.6 million euros for this purpose. Professor Petra de Jongh from Utrecht University is one of the co-applicants.

There are still a lot of unsolved mysteries in electrochemistry. The ANION scientists will investigate the processes that are important for batteries, electrolysers, and fuel cells.

Read full article here.


Future of Work Conference on staff shortages

  • #psychologicalsciences
  • #sociology

On 27 June the Future of Work conference is held in Utrecht. This year's central theme is staff shortages. 

The conference will be held in Dutch. 


  • Anne van der Put (Sociology)

  • Chris Janssen (Applied psychology) 

  • Maartje de Graaf (Human-Computer Interaction)

  • Marguerite van de Berg (Organisational science. Author: 'Werk is geen oplossing')

Registration will soon be open here.


Suzanne McGowan appointed Professor of Aquatic Ecosystem Dynamics

  • #biologicalsciences
  • #environmentalscience
  • #geosciences

Special chair connects Geosciences and Biology

Utrecht University has appointed Suzanne McGowan as Special Professor of Aquatic Ecosystem Dynamics. Her chair offers a unique combination between the university's faculties of Science and Geosciences. McGowan integrates this with her main affiliation as the Head of Aquatic Ecology at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW). As a professor, she aims to uncover how water ecosystems have been functioning, and how the major changes on our planet affect this.

More about Aquatic Ecosystem Dynamics


Chimpanzees are able to learn from their conspecifics what they cannot innovate themselves

  • #biologicalsciences
  • #environmentalscience

Insights into 'hot topic' in behavioral research

Chimpanzees that are unable to figure out a complex puzzle on their own, are capable of learning the solution from other chimps that were trained to solve it. Utrecht University researcher Edwin van Leeuwen and international colleagues conclude this based on experiments conducted with groups of chimpanzees in Zambia. The study demonstrates, for the first time, that chimpanzees, like humans, can acquire skills from one another that they cannot innovate themselves. In doing so, the study offers new insight into the evolution of culture.

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Many new oncology drugs approved in the EU lack proof of added benefit

  • #pharmacologicalsciences

Many cancer drugs recently approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) lack clear proof of added benefit. This is particularly the case for drugs that are granted via special processes, intended to accelerate the approval of promising treatments. A research team from Utrecht University draws this conclusion today in the scientific journal The BMJ. Their study also indicates that almost all oncology drugs, including these fast-tracked drugs, manage to recover their substantial research and development (R&D) costs relatively quickly after approval.

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WomenNetPhysics: the first Dutch conference about women working in physics

  • #physics

Although universities are trying their best to attract more female physics students, still only about one in four students is female. This means that women who choose physics often end up in the minority throughout their careers.

On March 22, Utrecht University will host the very first conference in the Netherlands about women working in physics. WomenNetPhysics is a networking event for anyone interested in the role of women in physics, no matter where you are in your career – whether you're a student, academic, or industry professional.

Read more and register for WomenNetPhysics


Data School is making an impact on an international scale

  • #computerscience
  • #ethicsinnaturalsciences
  • #informationscience

How do you achieve impact through your research findings? For instance, by publishing a paper in a leading academic journal, or speaking about it at a public event or in the media. But the Data School's Mirko Schäfer and Iris Muis do not find the time to publish as often as they would like. And yet, their research is having significant impact, with their work used in e.g. Austria, Sweden, Finland and Greece.

Iris Muis and Mirko Schäfer, along with associate professor Karin van Es, are the figureheads of the Data School, an education and research platform exploring the impact of digitisation on society. Schäfer is an associate professor at the Science Faculty as well as co-founder of the Data School. Team manager Muis was nominated Responsible AI Leader by Women in AI Netherlands. Schäfer just returned from Finland, where the Data School team worked to raise awareness among scientists and government officials on the ethical aspects of big data projects. They did so with the Data Ethics Decision Aid (DEDA), a toolkit used to help officials by guiding them through each step of the decision-making process.

Find out more!


Utrecht University developed performance review: “Structural evaluation of AI is needed”

  • #computerscience
  • #informationscience

A project team led by Utrecht University examined how companies can monitor their AI applications. “Artificial intelligence is getting an increasingly important role in organisations, yet there is no structural monitoring of how AI performs its tasks,” project leader Iris Muis reveals. As a result, risks of profiling and discrimination, for example, are growing. “Our solution is a periodic ‘performance review’, just as is the case with human employees.”

Evaluating functioning of AI

“A ‘job interview’ for AI is already common”, Muis says. “There are many tests available to determine whether a particular AI would fit within a company.” But once an AI system is implemented, it is not monitored or evaluated, her research team found. It turned out to be a gap that exists in academic literature as well as in practice. “While the performance of AI systems should be evaluated periodically to check whether they are doing and continue to do what is intended.”

Muis and her team subsequently developed a performance review for AI. “With this set-up, we provide tools for market players and supervisors to evaluate the functioning of AI,” Muis explains.

Read more about the questionnaire for artificial intelligence