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Thirteen promising researchers have received a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship to conduct research at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The projects focus, among other things, on the formation of planets, the regulation of migrant flows and on the mechanisms behind group polarization.

The fellowship amounts to about 180,000 euros for each researcher and is meant to encourage the mobility of researchers across national borders within and beyond the European Union. Alongside the thirteen visiting researchers, three UvA researchers will receive a fellowship to carry out research at an institution within Europe.

The UvA welcomes:

Wahideh Achbari (Psychology) – The Radius of Generalized Trust Among Different Educational Groups: Are Those 'Most People' Out-Groups?

European countries experience an increasing (policy) concern about migration’s impacts on social cohesion. Indicators of social cohesion are, however, contested. Wahideh Achbari will focus on the assumption that generalized trust (an often-used indicator) is not the same as a lack of prejudice towards out-groups. She will investigate this often-overlooked relationship. Furthermore, she will focus on the relationship between attitudes and implicit measures (Implicit Association Test) and between attitudes and behaviour in an experimental setting. Her research will enable other researchers to better map social cohesion.

Achbari was previously affiliated with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and will conduct her research at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), under the supervision of Prof. Bertjan Doosje.

Silvia Aru (Social Geography) – A Place for the Asylum Seekers: European Migration Policies and their Socio-Spatial Impacts

Silvia Aru’s project aims to assess the complicated field of discourses and practices of regulating migration flows into the EU by focusing on its socio-spatial impact since 2013, when the last Dublin II Regulation was promulgated. On the one hand, she will analyze the very complex stratification of geographical spaces and procedures shaped by the EU and by different national legislation, and on the other she will explore the interaction between the policies and procedures plan and experiences of migrants themselves, often characterized by tensions, resistance and clashes.

Aru is affiliated with the University of Cagliari and the University of Siena, and will conduct her research at the AISSR, under the supervision of Dr Darshan Vigneswaran.

Bert Bakker (Communication Science) – Politics isn’t Cool, it’s Hot! Beïnvloeden emoties onze politieke attitudes?

Europeans and Americans are anxious about the number of refugees entering their country; angry about unresponsive political elites; or sad how immigrants are treated. How do these emotions influence citizens’ attitudes? In his project, UvA researcher Bert Bakker will move beyond self-reported measures of emotions and theorize and assess whether emotions – measured using physiological responses – influence citizens’ political attitudes.

Bakker was already affiliated with the UvA. As part of his Global Fellowship he will stay at the Behavioral Foundations Laboratory at Temple University (US) in the year 2017-2018. Bakker will return to the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCOR) in 2018-2019 to conduct the second part of the project in the programme group chaired by Prof. Claes de Vreese.

Gaurav Dugar (Microbiology) – RNA Localization in Bacteria

In his project, Gaurav Dugar will use global approaches to map mRNA localization in the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis. This will be followed by its evaluation by use of high-end cell biology based techniques.

Laura Gangoso (Biology) – Ecological and Evolutionary Consequences of Predator-Prey Phenological Match-Mismatch Driven by Climate Change

Understanding how climate change affects the timing of the food supply and demand in the food chain is of importance to biologists, conservationists and politicians. Laura Gangoso’s project focuses on the Eleonora’s falcons that breed in August on the Canary Islands and feed their youngsters with songbirds that end up on the islands during their migration southwards. This type of falcon has two genetically determined colour variants. Her main goal is to assess the role of this genetic variation and plasticity in the eco-evolutionary response to Climate Change.

Gangoso is affiliated with Estación Biológica de Doñana in Spain and will conduct her research in the group of Prof. Willem Bouten at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED).

Melissa Mcclure (Astronomy) – Initial Conditions of Exoplanet Formation in Protoplanetary Disks

The origin of Jupiter-sized worlds orbiting close to their host stars is not well-understood. Mcclure will use new, precision methods to study where these planets form, identify their building blocks, and track the signatures of their earliest formation.

Mcclure is affiliated with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and will carry out her research in the group of Prof. Carsten Dominik at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy.

Marta Morvillo (Law) – The Constitutional Place of Expertise

Marta Morvillo will explore how constitutional principles can enhance the democratic legitimacy of expert-based decision-making in the EU by triggering processes of mutual learning between European Courts and decision-makers. Her research project will analyze policy fields which are at the same time technically complex and politically controversial, and include both scientific and economic expertise. Through the detection of such mutual influences in relation to expert-intensive decision-making, her aim is to promote a deeper integration of expert knowledge within the EU constitutional discourse.

Morvillo is affiliated with the University of Bologna and will conduct her research at the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance (ACELG), under the supervision of Prof. Christina Eckes and Dr Maria Weimer.

Lea Müller-Funk (Political Science) – Syrian Imaginations of Europe

Refugees’ attempts to flee to a certain country are usually preceded by imaginations about possible destination countries. These imaginations not only contribute to refugees’ decisions where to seek asylum but also have an effect on how refugees experience realities when they eventually arrive in the destination country. Lea Müller-Funk’s research project ‘SYRMAGINE (Syrian Imaginations of Europe) focuses on how Europe is imagined by Syrian refugees settling in Syria’s neighbouring countries and examines how refugees’ imaginations affect their attitudes to seek asylum in European countries. 

Müller-Funk is affiliated with the University of Oxford/Sciences Po Paris and will carry out her research at the AISSR, under the supervision of Prof. Hein de Haas.

Gui Leite Pimentel (Physics) – Microscopic Probes of Inflationary Cosmology

The current paradigm for early universe cosmology is the so-called theory of inflation, characterized by an epoch of accelerated expansion of the universe. To understand its origin, Gui Leite Pimentel will identify new particles that could have been produced during this period of inflation, and try to determine whether these particles can have stopped the accelerated expansion.

Leite Pimentel will conduct his research within the research group of Prof. Daniël Baumann at the Institute of Physics (IoP).

Carlo Proietti (Philosophy) – The Epistemic and Dynamic Aspects of Polarization

Group polarization is a collective phenomenon that typically occurs when an initial tendency of individual group members toward a given direction is enhanced following group discussion. With his project, Proietti will unveil the deep structure of the process of information flow and opinion change that generates polarisation in a group. To this end, two main tools are combined: argumentation frameworks (AF) – mostly used in artificial intelligence – and logics of information change (LIC) –developed by logicians. The combination of such analytical tools allows to model the knowledge base of an individual (AF), its modification by the successive steps of information exchange (LIC) and, subsequently, to analyze all critical points where polarisation can arise in a debate.

Proietti is affiliated with Lund University and will conduct his research at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC, Faculty of Humanities and Faculty of Science), under the supervision of Prof. Sonja Smets.

Neil Robinson (Physics) – Dynamics of Two-Component Quantum Gases

Neil Robinson’s research will focus on describing quantum gases formed from particles with two internal states, such as an electron’s spin or hyperfine levels in Rubidium. Pen-and-paper calculations will be combined with numerical computations to study how interactions modify the properties of these quantum gases, both in and out of equilibrium

Robinson is affiliated with Brookhaven National Laboratory and will carry out his research at the IoP, under the supervision of Prof. Jean-Sébastien Caux.

Itamar Shachar (Sociology) – Conscripted Volunteering: An Ethnographic Study of Community Engagement Schemes in the Israeli Military

Itamar Shachar provides a theoretically-informed, in-depth ethnographic account of a phenomenon that has so far been neglected in the literature. It examines why and how ‘conscripted volunteering’ emerged and became widespread in the Israeli military, how these volunteering schemes are assembled, organised and managed, and how this new type of soldiers’ engagement affects their notions of morality, citizenship and subjecthood. These questions are addressed through in-depth interviews, participant observations and content analysis.

Shachar is affiliated with Ghent University and will conduct his research at the AISSR, under the supervision of Dr Barak Kalir and Dr Erella Grassiani.

Margot Strohminger (Philosophy) – Counterfactual Knowledge from the Imagination

Thoughts about counterfactual situations are a central feature of human cognition, key to planning in any domain of activity: What would happen if I missed a mortgage payment? What if Britain were to leave the EU? It seems that knowledge about counterfactual situations is possible under some circumstances. Margot Strohminger will investigate these circumstances and what role the imagination plays in specifying them.

Strohminger is affiliated with the University of Salzburg and will carry out her research within the research group of Prof. Franz Berto.

UvA researchers going abroad

Simon Broda (Econometrics) – Developing a Financial Econometrics Package for the Julia Programming Language

Broder will visit the University of Zurich and the University of Oxford.

Angela Jager (Art History) – Netherlandish Paintings in Ledreborg Palace: A Multi-Disciplinary Research of circa 600 Paintings

Jager will visit Statens Museums for Kunst in Denmark.

Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius (Information Law) – How Should Automated Profiling be Regulated?

Borgesius will visit Vrije Universiteit Brussel

About the Individual Fellowship

The Individual Fellowships are awarded to promising, experienced researchers. There are two types of fellowships: the European Fellowships (for researchers moving to or within Europe) and the Global Fellowship (for researchers from Europe going to an institution outside Europe). The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions form part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.