Using an ERC grant to study languages with beans and millet

Japanologist and linguist Martine Robbeets is going to use her newly acquired ERC Consolidator Grant to study the origins and spread of Trans-Eurasian languages, which include Japanese and Turkish. With it, she’s tackling one of the most controversial subjects in language history.

FameLab: racked with nerves but still a good presentation

Pause for a few seconds. Then start your talk, and make it good. The young science researchers who took part in the preliminary round of FameLab on 17 February, were complimented by the jury. Present their research in three minutes was what they were asked to do. The four winners are through to the next round.

Empathy improves with age

A unique network is activated in our brains whenever we think of other people. This network has a social function, and changes during adolescence. The change enables us to become better at understanding others and sharing in their feelings. But, as psychologist Sandy Overgaauw discovered, it doesn’t have the same effect in everyone. PhD defence 19 February.

4 Vici awards for Leiden researchers

Four Leiden researchers have been awarded a Vici as part of NWO's Innovation Research Incentives scheme. They each have 1.5 million euros to set up a research group and employ PhD candidates.

Strings attached to future high-temperature superconductivity

The behaviour of strongly correlated electron systems, such as high-temperature superconductors, defies explanation in the language of ordinary quantum theory. A seemingly unrelated area of physics, string theory, might give physicists a better understanding of the weird behaviour of these kinds of collective electron systems. A bird’s eye view in Nature by five world experts in the field, including Jan Zaanen from Leiden University, the Netherlands.

Language as a time machine

About 90 per cent of Austronesian and Papuan languages are under threat of soon becoming extinct. Marian Klamer is the only professor in the world who researches both these language groups. She records languages before they disappear and sheds new light on the history of Indonesia. Inaugural lecture on 6 February.

Student entrepreneurs aiming to help society

On 27 January, thirty-one engaged young entrepreneurs, part of the minor programme in Entrepreneurship for Society, presented their various solutions for various social and environmental problems at Campus The Hague. Among others, they aimed to tackle youth unemployment and bee extinction. A mini ecosystem stole the show.

Children already capable of self-control at an early age

Children learn how to control and slow down their own behaviour at an early age. This important skill initially requires a lot of brain activity, but becomes more and more efficient as they grow older and become adolescents, concludes PhD candidate Margot Schel.

A Greek tribute to Leiden

Greek law student Vasileios Dafnomilis fell in love with Leiden a couple of years ago. That’s why he desperately wanted to come back, and he found a good reason. 'I was looking for a Master’s in European Taxation and Leiden was the only university worldwide that offered such a programme.’

A sustainable approach for the world's fish supply

China’s booming aquaculture industry is increasingly dependent on fishmeal made from wild-caught fish, a practice that depletes wild fish stocks. A new study conducted by institutions including Leiden University and Stanford offers a more sustainable path. The study appeared in the journal Science on 9 January.

Extreme obesity calls for individualized medication

Doctors and pharmacists often do not take obesity into account when prescribing medication. For this, more insight into the influence of obesity on the distribution and elimination of drugs is of the utmost importance. This is emphasized by Catherijne Knibbe in the most recent issue of the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Excavating the gas chambers at Sobibor

Leiden archaeologist Ivar Schute recently discovered the foundations of the gas chambers at the Sobibor death camp.  'The Holocaust is pratically incomprehensible; this work makes it more tangible.' What did Schute learn from his study of archaeology? 

‘Don’t sing like a donkey’

Hendrik Vanden Abeele has used his experience as a musician to study various interpretations of the Gregorian chant. This musical style has been interpreted and performed in many different ways throughout its long history, which has caused some serious consternation and debate in the past. His defence is scheduled for 15 December.