Six TU/e researchers awarded prestigious Vidi grants

Eindhoven University of Technology

Six researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology have been awarded a Vidi grant from the Dutch Research Council to further develop their innovative research. Sandra Loerakker, Emanuela Bosco, Roy van der Meel, Aida Abiad Monge, Shuxia Tao, and Matthijs van Berkel each receive a grant worth 800,000 euros with which they can set up or continue their innovative research over the next five years.

Computational models to improve regenerative heart valve prostheses

In the future, it may be possible to replace diseased heart valves with biodegradable valves that transform inside the human body into living, healthy heart valves. So far, however, this regenerative process has often resulted in unpredictable and variable outcomes.

The goal of the project of Sandra Loerakker (department of Biomedical Engineering) is to develop computational models to understand and predict heart valve regeneration, and to ultimately calculate what the design criteria for a biodegradable heart valve prosthesis are to develop into a living, healthy and functional heart valve.

A novel approach to predict aging and degradation of historical oil paintings

Oil paintings age with time. This is due to complex physical and chemical processes that lead to changes in the visual appearance and affect the integrity and longevity of the artworks.

Emanuela Bosco from the department of Built Environment aims to quantitatively predict the future conditions and the risk of degradation of historical oil paintings. This is done by developing a novel integrated, computational-experimental research strategy.

The fundamental knowledge generated in this project supports informed conservation decisions and preventive conservation policies for museum collections.

mRNA nanotechnology for therapeutically rebalancing the immune system in disease

Carefully designed immunotherapy is an innovative strategy to effectively treat diseases, like cancer. In this project, Roy van der Meel from the department of Biomedical Engineering proposes a new concept whereby nanoparticles composed of natural building blocks are generated to deliver mRNA drugs to specific immune cell populations.

Using this approach, the immune response can be stimulated to precisely and actively attack tumors. The current program will yield new nanotechnology for precision immunotherapy.

You can learn more about Van der Meel’s research by listening to his interview with Lieven Scheire in this podcast episode from ‘Sound of Science’.

Finding network structure beyond the spectrum: new frontiers and new methods

In this age of the big data revolution, industry and science are eager to identify graph parameters to quantify network properties such as similarity and information content.

Since the size of these networks is often very large, it is not feasible to analyse them by brute force. Mathematically, networks are modeled as graphs. The challenge is to use a small number of graph parameters which capture the shape of the network.

Aida Abiad Monge from the department of Mathematics & Computer Science focuses on understanding how much information of a graph we can extract by using the graph spectrum (eigenvalues). For her Vidi project, seeks to deduce structural properties of a graph from the graph spectrum. Properties such as connectedness, diameter and regularity, are known to be related to the spectrum of a graph.

Perfect perovskites and how to make them

Metal halide perovskites are promising materials for efficient and low-cost solar cells. However, their stability very much depends on how they are made.

Shuxia Tao from the department of Applied Physics will use large-scale computer simulations to understand how processing parameters influence the crystallization reactions and to propose strategies for fabricating the ultimate stable perovskites.

Keeping hydrogen burning with ice bullets

Nuclear fusion reactors produce large amounts of energy. To do this, hydrogen gas in the reactor is heated to 150 million °C. If no new hydrogen fuel is added, the fusion reaction stops by itself.

The only way to keep the process going is to shoot frozen (-260 °C) hydrogen pellets into the reactor at huge speed. The replenished fuel must reach the place in the reactor where fusion takes place before a pellet completely evaporates. Matthijs van Berkel from DIFFER will develop an entirely new control approach to manage this process.

About the NWO Vidi grants

Vidi fellowships are aimed at experienced researchers who have carried out succesful research for a number of years after their PhDs. Together with the Veni and Vici scholarships, Vidi is part of the NWO Talent Programme. With this program the Dutch Research Council wants to stimulate curiosity-driven and innovative research.

A total of 625 researchers submitted an application for a Vidi grant this year, of which 101 were awarded grants. That amounts to an award rate of 16%. The gender ratio of awarded grants is 53 men and 48 women, with the award rate among men being 15% and the award rate among women 18%.

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