Nine Wageningen researchers have been able to bring in a Veni grant. This grant (with a ceiling of 250 thousand euros) offers researchers the possibility to work on their own research subject for three years.
The Veni, Vidi and Vici grants form the NWO Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. Young researchers at the start of their career can apply for a Veni grant. They are free to suggest a subject for the research. WUR researchers Hannah van Zanten (Animal sciences and Aquaculture), Franziska Glassmeier (Meteorology and Air Quality), Daan Swarts (Biochemistry), Maryna Strokal (Environmental Sciences), Yvonne Wientjes (Animal Breeding and Genetics), Dennis Oonincx and Alexander Haverkamp (both Entomology), and Karen Kloth and Ruud Wilbers (both Plant Sciences) have been awarded the grant. What will they be researching?
Genomic animal breeding and food safety
Yvonne Wientjes heard that she was awarded the grant last Friday. She will use the grant to study the consequences of genomic selection methods in animal breeding. ‘Animal breeding plays an important part in achieving the necessary food production. Genomic selection is used to select the best breeding animals. I want to quantify the long-term effects of genomic selection methods and investigate whether the current methods should be improved in order to maintain sufficient food production in the future.’
Wientjes is very happy with the grant. ‘It was amazing news. There are many applicants for Veni grants, but the percentage of grants awarded is small. That really makes it feel like an acknowledgement.’ Out of 1115 applications, 154 researchers were awarded a Veni grant by NWO (14%).
Spotlight on insects
Dennis Oonincx also received a Veni grant. ‘The fact that I have been awarded this grant means that I have come up with something that others find interesting as well. This is very encouraging.’ Oonincx will research the role of UV light in insect production. Insects produce vitamin D when exposed to UV light. Oonincx wants to investigate how much vitamin D insects produce, how they convert it and what its function is. He expects that vitamin D has a positive effect on the insects’ immune system, among other things. ‘Insects can be used as biological pesticides, for example to fight caterpillars on cabbage plants. The healthier the insect, the better. But my research also has interesting aspects regarding human consumption: with this approach, insects might get a higher nutritional value.’