Learning a language is a staggering task

To properly understand how babies absorb a language we need to study the process from a number of different perspectives, linguist Claartje Levelt argues. She accepts her appointment as Professor of Language Acquisition on 27 March with an inaugural lecture entitled ‘Language in its infancy’.

Taking a closer look at resistance to tuberculosis bacteria

Though tuberculosis can be cured today, new resistant strains of the bacteria are becoming a growing problem in the medical world. Biologist Annemarie Meijer and her colleagues are studying resistance to this disease. Their research is already yielding several interesting clues that could help the development of a new generation of drugs. We have three questions for her.

Greater focus on pre-Islamic heritage

War and terrorism overshadow interest in the pre-Islamic heritage of the Arabic peninsula. The new Leiden Centre for the Study of Ancient Arabia aims to make the general public more aware of the ancient history of this region.

Slavery research on the up

An international congress, lectures and a new book series and magazine. It’s a hot topic at the moment that attracts broad public interest. Researchers, from historians to legal experts, are bringing together their expertise in the Leiden Slavery Studies Association.

Leiden students admitted to prestigious Chinese master’s programme

Three Leiden students have been selected for the Yenching Academy, a prestigious master’s programme offered by Peking University. The students will receive a full scholarship (tuition fees, housing and allowance), and will be following various interdisciplinary courses together with students from all over the world.

Quarter of Dutch motorists guilty of sleep-deprived driving

More than a quarter of Dutch motorists are occasionally guilty of sleep-deprived driving. Nearly 60% of them continue to drive when drowsy, according to in a survey by the Dutch Association for Sleep and Wake Research ( Nederlandse vereniging voor Slaap- en Waak Onde r zoek , NSWO).

The African lion consists of two subspecies

Biologist Laura Bertola argues that the traditional separation of lions into African and Asian subspecies is incorrect. She has discovered that Africa is actually home to two subspecies. Her PhD defence is on 18 March.

Dissident Jang Jin-sun guest lecturer at Leiden University

North Korean dissident Jang Jin-sun has been appointed guest lecturer on 'speaking truth to power' - in particular with regard to North Korea - at Leiden University.  Over the coming half year he will give a number of lectures on the inner workings of the North Korean regime.

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.