Joris Sprakel and Mark Zwart have each been given a prestigious Vidi grant by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). They will get 800,000 euros for their research.
Joris Sprakel of Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter will be looking for the plan that nature uses to construct complex molecular structures. That construction process goes wrong surprisingly rarely. Sprakel: ‘Nature uses helper molecules that make sure that the building blocks are in the right place at the right time.’ Sprakel compares it to building an IKEA cupboard. That works fine if you follow the instructions. He wants to find those instructions. ‘That would be revolutionary for the world of nanomaterials.’
Mark Zwart of Genetics will be trying to discover the secret of what are known as multipartite viruses. They have a segmented genome, spread across multiple virus elements. ‘It’s as if you post an item in several different envelops,’ explains Zwart. ‘That seems to be a terribly inefficient and eccentric way of infecting things. So what’s the advantage? I have some ideas about that, which I want to test out.’
The funding body NWO granted a total of 89 Vidis. They are part of the innovation incentive scheme of Veni, Vidi and Vici grants for early-career, experienced and very experienced scientists respectively.