The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded a Vidi grant to Luca GIomi (Leiden) and Carmine Ortix (Utrecht). They will will each receive an €800,000 to develop their own innovative line of research and set up a dedicated research group.
The goal of the Luca Giomi’s research is to theoretically investigate an artificial cell-like structure to understand how mechanical functionality emerges in living matter. Living cells are capable of astonishing mechanical functionalities. They can deform spontaneously or, in response to environmental stimuli, move in a fluid or on a substrate and generate enough force to split themselves in two, while remaining alive. These unique properties are possible because the building blocks that form the mechanical apparatus of the cell are active: they are able to transform stored or ambient energy into mechanical work.
But how does functionality emerge from mechanical activity? In order to address this question, Giomi will focus on an artificial cell-like structure consisting of a lipid vesicle enclosing an active liquid crystal that performs the functions of the cytoskeleton. Using this active prototype cell as a model system, he will shed light on the complex mechanical properties that characterize the “fabric of life”.
Carmine Ortix (Utrecht) has been awarded a Vidi grant by NWO in the 2015 round for his proposal Shaping nanomaterials for future electronics. The award allows Ortix, who is currently spending a long term research visit at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Utrecht on a DFG grant, to expand his research on quantum effects in curved semiconductor nanomembranes.
Vidi grants allow researchers to conduct research for up to five years, and are awarded to experienced researchers who have already conducted several years of successful research following their PhD. Together the Veni, Vidi and Vici grants form part of the NWO Impulse for Innovation, a programme that is open to funding proposals by researchers on original subjects. NWO selects researchers based on the quality of their prior research, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the proposal and opportunities for knowledge application.
This round, NWO allocated grants to 87 of the 572 eligible research proposals submitted.