How the Arabs gained control of Egypt

How did Fustat develop between 640 and 750 to become the capital of Egypt? At the time Egypt was a province of the Islamic empire - the caliphate - that had been started by the prophet Muhammad. Original sources used by Arabist Jelle Bruning give new insights into the city. PhD defence on 2 April.

More focus needed on women and gender in research

A greater role for women, as researchers and as a factor in scientific research. This was the plea of academics and governors from Leiden, Delft, Norway, Sweden and the United States at the Gendered Innovations symposium held at Leiden University on 28 March.

Mapping bacterial genomes to fight infectious diseases

How do bacteria adapt to a new environment? How exactly are the genomes of bacteria folded into cells? These questions are being investigated by an international team of researchers led by Leiden biochemist Remus Dame. The Human Frontier Science Program has awarded them a grant of 1.3 million US dollars for this purpose.

Evidence of link between being bullied and suicidal thoughts

Being bullied is a risk factor for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among children as well as adolescents. This is what education specialists at Leiden University have concluded after carrying out a meta-analysis of 34 scientific articles on the relationship between peer victimisation and suicidal thoughts, and on peer victimisation and actual suicide.

Depots of Leiden archaeologists in Syria plundered

From dozens to hundreds of boxes containing remarkable archaeological finds by Leiden researchers in Syria have most probably been plundered. ‘A dramatic development for 25 years of Leiden research,’ says Peter Akkermans, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology.

Female birds sing much more often than previously thought

In 71% of all songbird species with available data, the female sings too. This is remarkable because in the wake of Darwin’s theory of evolution, birdsong has generally been seen as a characteristic of male birds, allowing them to compete with other males and attract females. Leiden biologist Katharina Riebel published this finding on 4 March in Nature Communications, together with an international team.

Six students follow the Silk Route for Amsterdam's Hermitage

Six students of archaeology, history and art history are to follow the Silk Route in Central Asia, looking for evidence from ancient history for the enormous cultural exchange brought about by this trade route.  They are conducting their research for the exhibition on the Silk Route that opened in the Hermitage in Amsterdam on 1 March.  

Glimmer of light in the search for dark matter

The Leiden astrophysicist Alexey Boyarsky and his fellow researchers may have identified a trace of dark matter that could signify a new particle: the sterile neutrino. A research group in Harvard reported a very similar signal just a few days earlier.

Symposium on the importance of gender in research

Leiden University wants more focus on the differences between women and men in research. This time the goal is not more women researchers, but closer attention for the gender factor in scientific research. Taking sex and gender into account leads to innovation. To fail to do so is to risk the loss, not only of money but also of lives. What’s more, it is a requirement of Horizon 2020. Reason enough for a symposium on 28 March.

Difference between brain hemispheres not so strict

The difference between the rational left hemisphere and the emotional right hemisphere is by no means as strict as the popular view would have us believe. PhD candidate Jurriaan Witteman has published a study on this topic in Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural Neuroscience.

Tyrosine helps you stop faster

A child suddenly runs out into the road. Brake!! A driver who has recently eaten spinach or eggs will stop faster, thanks to the amino acid tyrosine found in these and other food products. Leiden cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato publishes her findings in the journal Neuropsychologia.

Medieval kissing letters easier to date

Leiden book historian Erik Kwakkel has developed a method for dating medieval handwriting more accurately. It will help make history less vague. He will shortly be introducing his new approach in Oxford.

Ripples in the water make croaking frogs vulnerable

The more a Tungara frog croaks, the greater his chance of finding a partner. But the vibrations produced by the noise on the water’s surface also attract predators. This is what research conducted by Leiden biologist Wouter Halfwerk and others has shown. An article about this finding appeared on January 24 in Science.

More sensitive to social exclusion

Children who experience chronic rejection and exclusion by their parents can become more sensitive to social exclusion later on in life and suffer the effects for a longer period of time. This is the subject of an online publication on the website Plos One by Anne-Laure van Harmelen and her Leiden University colleagues.

How autistic children learn to control their emotions

Children with autism spectrum disorder often suffer from social and mental health problems. PhD research by Lucinda Pouw (Developmental and Educational Psychology) has shown that how they deal with their emotions is an important factor. PhD defence 14 January.

The corporate world and human rights closer together

The collapse in 2013 of a textile factory in Bangladesh that also produced clothing for European brands again made it abundantly clear: the massive globalisation of the corporate world needs better rules and legislation. Leiden legal experts are working at European level on ways to move forward.