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

New ASTRON director aims to set the tracks for the next decades

‘How to keep ahead of the game as a small partner in huge global endeavours?’

Jessica Dempsey spent her childhood at a remote cattle station in the Australian desert. Growing up in the bush gave her a love of the quiet life, she says. Not a bad asset for a radio astronomer, since telescopes also need vast and quiet open spaces. Despite some headwind earlier in her career as a woman in astronomy, she reached leadership positions. So here she is: a fresh and sparkling star in Dutch astronomy: Jessica Dempsey, the new director of ASTRON. Inside NWO-I asked her about her past experiences and her plans for the future.

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Joost Frenken leaves ARCNL for the University of Groningen

About the successful balancing act between fundamental research and the interaction with ASML
Credits: Ivar Pel

On 1 January 2014, director Joost Frenken (1958) became the very first employee of the NWO Institute Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography (ARCNL). Exactly 8.5 years later, with a record of 22 PhD graduations, 220 publications and 150 interesting ideas for partner ASML, he is leaving the institute that now has 100 employees. Joost will become the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Groningen. In this farewell interview, he talks about “not simply sitting it out till your retirement”, the difficulties in the first few years of ARNCL and the much-needed family feeling. ‘The role of ARCNL is to do things that will eventually become of interest to the R&D (research & development) of ASML.’

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Highlight CWI: FleX-ray Lab celebrates the fifth anniversary of the wedding between X-rays and smart rapid calculations

Checking food quality, or investigating a masterpiece with exactly the right quantity of X-rays to prevent damage. For the past five years, that has been possible at NWO Institute CWI. In the institute’s FleX-ray Lab, mathematics, computer science and X-ray tomography come together in the unique, custom-made micro-CT scanner, which is linked to a powerful computer cluster. During an anniversary symposium on 19 May, CWI celebrated the impressive performance and possibilities of the unique X-ray scanner together with physicists, archaeologists, curators, industrial partners and also the neighbouring NWO Institute Nikhef. Today, the instrument can even construct real-time 3D images, as a result of which experts can continually choose the right settings. Thanks to ever more powerful computers, better algorithms and machine learning, many possible applications are now within reach.

Credits: Bram Belloni
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Trajectory “New personnel system NWO-I” in full swing

Project leader Henk Tamsma (DIFFER) tells us more

Since the NWO transition in 2017, the NWO-I office and the nine NWO Institutes have already harmonised various work processes to optimise the collaboration within NWO-I and facilitate working in a more efficient way. For example, there is already a single financial system for NWO-I, and everybody works with the same salary administration. Now it is the turn of the NWO-I personnel system. Henk Tamsma is head of P&O at DIFFER and leads the NWO-I-wide project “Harmonisation personnel processes and design Youforce”. He tells Inside NWO-I about all of the changes that will take place in the area of P&O within NWO-I: examples are the central registration of personnel changes, the digitisation of personnel files and employees being able to consult their own files via the new portal Youforce. User-friendliness will take centre stage.

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First NWO-I workshop for technicians held

Marco de Baar (DIFFER) and Patrick Werneke (Nikhef) about the importance of collaboration and sharing knowledge

At the NWO Institutes, important scientific discoveries could not be made without the support of technicians. Engineers, instrument makers, electronic specialists, ICT professionals: they are all part of the large group of technicians who work at NWO-I. ‘Without technical support, you’re stuck. It is vital at all levels of science, from instrument making to Big Science’, says DIFFER director Marco de Baar. And the institutes do not work independently in that regard, explains Patrick Werneke, head of Mechanical Technology at Nikhef: ‘DIFFER will soon switch to our drawing system. Then they will make use of our knowledge and investments. That saves a lot of time and money.’ A series of workshops for NWO-I technicians must further strengthen this knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Marco de Baar (credits: Bart van Overbeeke) & Patrick Werneke
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Highlight NSCR: higher risk of criminal behaviour in children from single-parent families

Children who grow up in a single-parent family are at a higher risk of committing a crime during their adolescence. That is the conclusion of Janique Kroese (NSCR/VU Amsterdam) who defended her doctoral thesis on this subject on 19 May 2022. It does not matter whether the single-parent family has come about due to a divorce or due to the death of a parent. The child’s age does, however, play a role: the younger the child is when its family becomes a single-parent family, the higher the chance of criminal behaviour. Kroese identified the various risk factors for single-parent families. She argues, amongst other things, that judges should award custody to just one parent in exceptional cases, for example if the other parent commits crimes.

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NWO celebrates… World MS (multiple sclerosis) Day

At NWO Utrecht, Mirjam van Ooijen, application manager at I&A, is known as a cheerful, good-humoured and helpful colleague who is always happy to have a chat. What many people do not know is that Mirjam has the illness MS (multiple sclerosis), a chronic disease of the central nervous system. In this edition of ‘NWO celebrates…’ Mirjam requests attention for World MS Day on 30 May. She would like to share with colleagues what MS is and how this not so visible disease affects her work and daily life. ‘Many people are shocked when I tell them that I really do need to use a wheelchair for long distances, and that my partner Gerben does all of the housekeeping.’

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Holiday, insurance & discount

A travel insurance from OHRA

Discover. Swim. Relax. Lounge. Admire. Explore. Whatever you do during your (summer) holiday, you want to be genuinely free. And you want to enjoy yourself without any worries. That’s why a good travel insurance is so handy: in case something goes wrong, your things are stolen or there is an emergency back home, which means you need to come back earlier. NWO-I has made collective agreements with healthcare insurer OHRA. As an employee of NWO-I, you also get a discount on your travel insurance from OHRA.

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Emergency fund and great initiatives for Ukraine: #AcademicsNL for Ukraine

Thanks to the fantastic efforts of many NWO colleagues over the past few months, a range of initiatives have been launched to support, among other things, Ukrainian scientists. For example, employees from NWO Institute ASTRON and astronomy institute JIVE-ERIC sponsored a second-hand ambulance for colleagues from a research collaboration in Ukraine, and NWO Domain Social Sciences and Humanities collected emergency relief goods. But much more has been done.

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NWO Pride Meeting - 28 June 2022

Date 28-06-2022

On Tuesday 28 June 2022, the next NWO Pride meeting will take place, at NWO Institute ARCNL at the Amsterdam Science Park. This is a NWO LGBTI+...

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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.


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