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April 24th 2018
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NWO institutes are proud of awards: substantial grants for magnets lab HFML, neutrino telescope KM3NeT and space telescope Athena

On 12 April, the NWO executive board awarded funding to a total of 10 proposals in the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure, which total € 138 million. Minister for Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven presented the ten roadmap certificates at the Science Park in Utrecht. Two of the proposals awarded funding will be realised by the NWO institutes Nikhef, NIOZ and SRON. In addition, the research facility Field Magnet Laboratory (HFML), a collaboration between Radboud University and NWO-I, has been awarded a grant. Funds from the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure make it possible to build or modernise top research facilities with an international allure.

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New method predicts evolution

As evolution is driven by chance, predicting it seems impossible. Nevertheless, scientists from AMOLF in Amsterdam and the ESPCI in Paris have succeeded in making predictions about the evolution of a set of genes in E. coli. When and how genes mutate remains random, but it did appear predictable which gene is more likely to evolve first, or if evolutionary deadlock arises. The results have been published on 13 April in the journal Nature Communications.

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NWO Institutes praised for quality, innovation and national role

The nine NWO Institutes have been evaluated by panels of independent, international experts. The experts praise the innovative research, the global position and the national role of the institutes. The scientific quality, societal relevance and future viability were in all cases assessed as 'very good' or even 'world leading'.

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Stressed-out bacteria do measure up: as they grow, E. coli cells constantly mark sites where they can divide once the period of stress is over

"All over the world, a lot of research is focusing on the growth and division of E. coli, but that usually takes place under ideal laboratory conditions,” says Martijn Wehrens, a PhD student in Sander Tans' group at AMOLF. "The real world is not ideal, of course. It contains all sorts of stress factors. High temperatures, antibiotics or lack of food can cause E. coli to grow differently than it would under ideal conditions." Filament Prior to cell division, E. coli normally doubles in length every hour or so. Before division a ring-shaped protein structure appears on the cell wall. Its role is to ensure that the bacterium divides neatly in two. When stressed, these bacteria continue to grow but do not divide. They become filament-shaped and can grow to more than twenty times their normal length. "Long E. coli…

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Spin-out of fusion robotics to health care and industry

On Tuesday 20 February, the Dutch Remote Handling Study Center (RHSC) for research into remotely controlled robots has spun out to became an independent entity. RHSC was founded within the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research DIFFER in collaboration with Heemskerk Innovative Technology and developed maintenance techniques for future fusion reactors such as ITER. The spin-out enables RHSC to broaden its scope to include industrial maintenance and even health care.

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Negotiators' Agreement Collective Labour Agreement 2018-2019

On 12 February, the employers, united within the WVOI (NWO, NWO-I and KB), concluded a negotiators' agreement about a new collective labour agreement (CLA) with the employees' organisations, taking effect from 1 January 2018 and with a term of two years. The most important agreements are listed below.

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Exotic pulsar unveils a hidden pulsar population

More than 18 years after the first detection of a rather exotic type of pulsar, astronomers have at last observed such a pulsar with certainty for the second time. Researchers from SRON will publish their findings shortly in the journal MNRAS. The pulsar gives astronomers important information that they can use in the future to expose a population of pulsars that has remained hidden from their view up until now.

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Signing for gender equality in European physics research

To remove barriers to the recruitment and career progression of female physicists, the directors of four NWO physics institutes AMOLF, ARCNL, DIFFER and Nikhef will sign Gender Equality Plans (GEP) to promote female physicists careers. The official ceremony takes place on Monday night 22 January 2018 at the start of Physics@Veldhoven in front of the physics community. It kicks-off a systematic approach to accelerate the improvement of gender balance in the national physics community leading to structural change in the research institutes.

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