5 Vidis for Leiden researchers

Of the 87 Vidi research subsidies awarded by NWO, five have been awarded to Leiden researchers. This represents almost 6 per cent of the successful applications.

A PhD from two universities on drug abuse

Stimulating drugs, such as khat and cocaine, have a negative impact on everyday activities such as driving a car and working, as well as on social behaviour. That’s because these drugs seriously damage control centres in a user’s brain. Psychologist Manuel Ruiz’s research aims to increase understanding, and improve treatment, of drug addiction. His PhD defence at both Leiden University and the University of Granada took place on May 12.

From the Sharia to Turkish soap operas

Knowledge of Islam and of Muslim societies is indispensable when trying to properly understand the globalising world, as well as changing Dutch society. Researchers from Leiden are therefore immersing themselves in the languages, culture and religion of Muslim societies. Their work and insights can now be explored in the online dossier on Islam and Society.

US government gave Black populace little protection

State governments neglected the rights of the Black populace after the American Civil War. Historian Mark Leon de Vries has discovered that the federal government offered Blacks practically no assistance either. Dissertation defence on 23 April.

Traditional children's picture books are no match for read aloud app

Children learn more from digital picture books than from traditional static books. In particular children with a language learning weakness grasp the story better because of the moving images. But interactive games on the other hand have a disrupting effect. These are the findings of PhD researcher Zsofia Takacs. PhD defence 22 April

Complex Organic Molecules Discovered in Infant Star System

For the first time, astronomers have detected the presence of complex organic molecules, the building blocks of life, in a protoplanetary disc surrounding a young star. The discovery reaffirms that the conditions that spawned the Earth and Sun are not unique in the Universe. The results are published in Nature.

Wilders presents his opinions as facts

Geert Wilders has begun to present his political opinions as facts. This is the conclusion of Maarten van Leeuwen, who recently completed a dissertation on the language use of Wilders, Vogelaar and Pechtold. As part of his investigation he considers an aspect that has thus far received too little attention: grammar.

Children with autism spectrum disorder are empathic

Children with autism spectrum disorder are able to empathise with others. However, they can be quickly overwhelmed by other people's emotions, which may make them more aggressive. These are the newest insights from research by developmental psychologist Carolien Rieffe and her colleagues.

Should we still use citation scores to measure success?

Leiden-based researcher Rodrigo Costas analysed social media metrics to gauge the impact of research. Comparing citation analysis with these metrics in an article in Plos One, he concludes that altmetrics can be seen as an addition to, but not as an substitute for, citation analysis.

Political decision-making process for mission in Uruzgan

Military leaders explore ‘the terrain’ for a possible mission and are supposed to inform political leaders at the right moment. Politicians make the decisions and, ideally, also determine the objectives. However, PhD student Mirjam Grandia concludes that in the preparation for the mission to Uruzgan, politicians failed to set any objectives and instead hopped on a train that was already in motion.

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.