Last updated 6 months ago by Michael Darmanin
Three Utrechters have been nominated to win the Science Talent award. The three nominated researchers from Utrecht are:
Joyce Browne (1987, Utrecht University)
[gard align=”right”]During her pregnancy, Joyce Browne had a hundred times lower risk of death than a pregnant woman in Sierra Leone. Browne wants to do something about that inequality. She wants to improve pregnancy care for women worldwide, starting with Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Suriname, where she works with local doctors and researchers. Browne looks at what is needed per country. From following pregnant women with disorders related to high blood pressure in Ghana and Nigeria, to a national registration system for women who are seriously ill during pregnancy in Suriname. Thanks to the collaboration with local doctors and researchers, they can immediately use the research results on site.
Lennart de Groot (1984, Utrecht University)
People usually don’t notice it, but it plays an important role in nature: the earth’s magnetic field. Lennart de Groot developed a much improved method to reconstruct the earth’s magnetic field from the past. This method uses a special property of lava. Lava becomes slightly magnetic when cooled. You can deduce from this how the magnetic field looked during cooling. You can then use knowledge about the magnetic field from the past to predict its future behavior. The Earth’s magnetic field is constantly changing. If it falls away completely, then a salvo of harmful sun particles reaches our planet and life is impossible. It won’t go that fast, but the changing magnetic field is annoying. Technologies such as Wi-Fi and satellite communication are disrupted if they are confronted with many harmful particles.
Pieter de Visser (1985, SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research)
If you take a photo in the dark with your smartphone, the result is a grainy, noisy image. And then you are right on top of it. Then try taking a good photo of a planet floating through the universe many light years away – that is almost impossible. Our telescopes capture only a single light particle per second from such a planet. To properly capture that one particle of light, without noise, Pieter de Visser is developing extremely accurate detectors. The use of superconducting materials makes them very sensitive to small signals. The De Visser detectors don’t just take a nice photo. By measuring the energy of the incident light particles, astronomers can retrieve information about the atmosphere of the planet. With this we can possibly determine in the future whether there is extraterrestrial life there.
Initiative by New Scientist
The popular science magazine New Scientist today presents on its website the 25 nominees for the title of the greatest science talent in the Netherlands and Flanders. The field of activity of the nominees is very diverse: from research into how our immune system can fight cancer to techniques that allow us to search for life on distant planets. The public can vote via newscientist.nl/talent and thus determine which scientist will be named Science Talent 2019 on 31 May. The online ballot box is open until 6 May.
The election enters its fifth year this year. Last year Damya Laoui, cancer researcher at the Free University of Brussels, won. The election offers young scientists a platform on which they can show their research to the general public. “Scientific research in the Netherlands in Flanders is of an extremely high level,” says Jim Jansen, editor-in-chief of New Scientist. “With this election we proudly show this to the outside world. Who knows, there may be a future Nobel Prize winner among the nominees. ”
Public and jury opinion
The universities and knowledge institutes have introduced their young talents in recent months. 25 top talents were selected from these candidates. A professional jury will be considering the nominees in the coming weeks. The jury is chaired this year by Stan Gielen (chair NWO) and Willy Verstraete (chair FWO). In addition, the jury consists of Belle Derks (chair of Young Academy in the Netherlands), Sylvia Wenmackers (co-chair of Young Academy in Flanders), Melanie Peters (director of Rathenau Institute) and Jim Jansen.
To determine the winner, the opinion of the online voting public is combined with that of the jury. Both count for 50 percent in the final result. The winner of the title New Scientist Science Talent 2019 receives a cash prize of 2500 euros, made possible in part by the Rathenau Institute.
The winner will be announced on 31 May during the New Scientist Live event at TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht. This evening the five best-scoring talents will give a presentation about their research. There are also lectures by primatologist Frans de Waal, moral philosopher Katleen Gabriels and astrobiologist Inge Loes ten Kate. The festive award ceremony will follow at the end of the evening. Tickets are available via newscientist.nl/live.