Newsletter for NWO-I employees February 2022
Inside NWO-I
Click here to read the newsletter online Nederlandse versie

Jessica Dempsey appointed director of ASTRON

The NWO-I Foundation Board has appointed Prof. Jessica Dempsey as director of ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, as from 1 May 2022. 'Dempsey was selected for a well-established and broad track record in the three main areas of ASTRON: astronomy, instrumentation in radio astronomy and observatory operations’, according to Prof. Marcel Levi, president of the NWO-I Foundation Board. ‘She is a world-renowned scientist and has successfully led an astronomical institution in a complex international environment with many partners and with a very active attitude towards more inclusion, equality and diversity.’

Credits: ASTRON
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NWO-I continues to develop

The current state of play in the operations
Doorontwikkeling

In the September 2021 edition of this newsletter, we wrote about several organisational developments within NWO-I. The structural budget deficit that existed back then has since been solved. A message about this was sent to the institutes and the NWO-I office on 25 August 2021. That message also stated that the Foundation Board shall invest millions of extra euros in the further professionalisation of the organisation in the coming years. For example, part of this money will go to the security of our computer networks. Meanwhile, further improvements to the joint operations are still in progress. In this article, we tell you more about that last aspect.

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Back to the work floor? We can’t wait!

This COVID-19 pandemic, with most recently the omicron variant of the virus, seems to have passed its peak. Perhaps NWO-I colleagues will soon be able to work more often in their institute building again? That day can’t arrive soon enough, as far as Ulrich van den Ham (Team leader facility services Utrecht), Suzanne Klaver (Nikhef), Sandra Liefhebber (NIOZ) and Anouck Vrouwe (DIFFER) are concerned. In January 2022, Inside NWO-I asked them how the pandemic has affected their work so far.

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Director Huib Bakker about new research themes at AMOLF

At the boundaries and in the overlap
Credits: Lucas Helmbrecht

Each of the nine NWO Institutes has its own scientific mission and strategy within its own specific scientific fields. They regularly review their mission and strategy and subsequently implement any possible changes. NWO Institute AMOLF recently established a new scientific direction. Innovation is embedded in the AMOLF mission: initiating and realising new fundamental research in the physics of complex matter, and using the knowledge gained to create new functional materials in collaboration with universities and industry. AMOLF director Huib Bakker enthusiastically explains how the choice for the new themes Autonomous Matter, Sustainable Energy Materials and Information in Matter arose, and what this means for the AMOLF research programme.

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Update strategy process NWO

It is 2022, the year in which the new NWO strategy will be presented to Robbert Dijkgraaf, the new Minister of Education, Culture and Science. In this edition we give you an update about the strategy process of NWO: we got a high response rate on the internal survey and the preparation of the in-depth (thematic) focus sessions with both internal and external stakeholders is in full swing.

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Highlight AMOLF: worm C. elegans does not accidentally switch off its ability to detect salt

In collaboration with Erasmus MC, researchers from NWO Institute AMOLF have discovered a genetic mechanism, which ensures that once a nerve cell has been differentiated, it always retains its identity. This concerns a neuron in the worm C. elegans, which can detect salt. This identity is switched on by a genetic switch during the development of the cell. Group leader Jeroen van Zon and his colleagues have now discovered what happens to ensure that this switch never spontaneously switches off again. Namely, the switch remains activated if the CHE-1 protein stimulates its own production far more strongly than that of all other proteins responsible for salt detection. If the amount of CHE-1 is very low due to a natural fluctuation in the cell, the production of those other proteins - and so the detection of salt - is temporarily halted to ensure that the production rate of CHE-1 is restored. This is a self-enhancing effect, as a result of which the switch remains on.

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Purple Friday at ASTRON

On Friday 10 December 2021, NWO Institute ASTRON celebrated Purple Friday. They did this together with JIVE (the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC) and the NOVA Optical Infrared Astronomical Instrumentation Group, which are both housed at ASTRON. This event is organised every second Friday of December across the Netherlands to show support for and solidarity with the LGBTIQ+ community. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, ASTRON colleagues could not gather in large numbers on Purple Friday. Therefore, many colleagues made sure they wore something purple wherever they were on that day and shared selfies. A big thank you to everyone who showed their support by wearing purple, whether they sent pictures or not. And let’s keep finding more reasons to show our support for the LGBTIQ+ community in the future as well.

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NWO celebrated... Christmas

Just before the Christmas holiday, the NWO celebrates… editorial team took the time to reflect on Christmas. And although the Christmas period is already far behind us, we would still like to share this NWO celebrates… issue with you. ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year…’, but why ? NIOZ colleague Tara Mahendrarajah was happy to share with us what Christmas means to her and how she celebrates it. On the NWO intranet Joost you can read the Christmas stories from four other NWO-D colleagues, which are about traditions, stories, a church choir and a South African braai.

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News from the works councils

After the Christmas break, the works councils in the form of GOR NWO-I (NWO-I Group Works Council) and COR NWO (NWO Central Works Council) are fully up and running again. Things are definitely not at a standstill: in the next six months, the external advice about the governance of NWO-I and the realisation of this are important subjects. The GOR NWO-I will, among other things, advise on the intended board decisions concerning the development of NWO-I operations. COR NWO will also discuss the NWO strategy 2023-2026.

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About NWO-I

NWO-I, the Institutes Organisation of NWO, is an independent foundation belonging to NWO. The following nine institutes are part of NWO-I: AMOLF, ARCNL, ASTRON, CWI, DIFFER, Nikhef, NIOZ, NSCR and SRON. The 200-plus workgroups in which physics research takes place at Dutch universities and knowledge institutes are also part of NWO-I.

Contact

NWO-I
www.nwo-i.nl
info-nwoi@nwo.nl
(030) 600 12 11

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