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Jesse Veenvliet

Jesse Veenvliet is a post-doctoral researcher based at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin. After studying Medicine in Nijmegen he pursued his interest in fundamental research by enrolling in the MSc program Experimental & Clinical Neuroscience at Utrecht University. After obtaining his PhD in the field of Developmental and Molecular Neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam his fascination for embryonic development took him to Berlin, where he secured funding to study the genetic program that controls embryonic development and model this process in a petri dish.

Working in the field of synthetic embryology raised his interest in the ethical questions sparked by recent scientific breakthroughs. What is the ethical status of organs-on-a-chip? What if stem cells form embryos in a dish? Can we use the same ethical guidelines that apply to studying real embryos for synthetic embryos? Where does the 14-day limit for culturing human embryos come from? Can we modify human embryos to design our own offspring? Jesse considers communicating these questions to the layman an important part of his job; he wrote an op-ed for NRC, and is consulted by de Correspondent.

At the Science Night he will talk about all these recent advancements in embryo engineering and the ethical questions that come with them.

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Emmeke aarts

Emmeke Aarts is an assistant professor based at the department of methodology and statistics at Utrecht University. After completing her studies in Psychology and Methodology and Statistics at Utrecht University, she obtained her Ph.D. at the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research at the VU University Amsterdam. During her Ph.D project, she combined her two main interests in methodology & statistics and neuroscience. Her aim was to extend the everyday neuroscientist’s statistics toolbox, such that information from – nowadays often – complex neuroscience data is optimally exploited.

After a post-doc at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin and a position as a data scientist at TNO, she returned to Utrecht University where she combines the development of new statistical methods with close collaborations with applied researchers from various fields. The focus of her fundamental research is the analysis of dense data collected over time in multiple persons or animals (i.e., 15 minutes of non-verbal communication in humans, or automatically annotated mouse behaviour over 7 days).

At the Science night, she will convince you to have a good look at your own statistics toolbox. Innovations in the experimental techniques available to collect data have resulted in major advances in our understanding of the body, but also in datasets which show an ever-increasing degree of complexity. To both ensure valid research conclusions and optimal use of all information contained within your carefully collected data, using state-of-the-art statistical methods is no longer optional.

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Belle Derks

Belle Derks is one of the youngest female professors in the Netherlands. Belle Derks received her MA (2001; cum laude) and Ph.D. (2007) at Leiden University. For her dissertation she received the 2007 Social Issues Dissertation Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). In 2015 she was appointed as professor at the department of Social and Organisational Psychology of the University of Utrecht. Her research focuses on psychological, physiological and neural consequences of the stereotyping that women and ethnic minorities face in work – and educational settings. Her proposal ‘The Queen-Bee-Phenomenon: How men and women maintain gender inequality in the workplace’, made her the international expert on this subject: female leaders who oppose younger female co-workers. As of this year, Prof. Belle Derks is the chairwoman of the ‘Jonge Akademie’, one of her prime targets is that science and research should be more about cooperation and collaboration instead of competition between scientists.

While gender-inequality is currently a ‘trending subject’ in a broad spectrum of different branches, Belle Derks will show us how it is also very applicable to science. Furthermore, she will discuss the consequences of the focus on competition in science and its effect on us, young researchers. At this Science Night, Belle will tell us more about this subject and her vision about how we can change this in the future.

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Prof. dr. ir. van der Kooij

Prof. Dr. ir. Herman van der Kooij, received his Phd with honors in 2000 and is from 2010 full professor in Biomechatronics and Rehabilitation Technology at the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the University of Twente and Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. His expertise and interests are in the field of human motor control, adaptation, and learning, rehabilitation robots, diagnostic, and assistive robotics, virtual reality, rehabilitation medicine, and neuro-computational modeling.

He has published over 70 journal publications in the area of biomechatronics and human motor control. He has directed more than € 12 million in research, from which he gained expertise in the management of (inter)national medium-scale projects. He was awarded the prestigious personal Dutch VIDI and VICI grants in 2001 and 2015 respectively. He is associate editor of IEEE TBME and IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, member of IEEE EMBS technical committee of Biorobotics, and was member of several scientific program committees in the field of rehabilitation robotics, bio robotics, and assistive devices. He is member of the program committee of the Duch IMDI core on Neurocontrol, and of the NeuroSipe program. He is the coordinator of the FP7 project Symbitron.

At Science Night, he will give us an insight in the recent and future developments around rehabilitation robots and exoskeletons. How can we make people walk again? What are the future perspectives for people with paraplegia?


Sicco de Knecht - Moderator

Sicco de Knecht (1987) is editor in chief at ScienceGuide, a website about higher education and science in The Netherlands. He studied Psychobiology and Neuroscience at the University of Amsterdam. In his PhD at the UvA he worked on the neuronal basis of epilepsy. Throughout his PhD, he was also an editor at deFusie and presented the philosophical talkshow “The Idea” (“De Idee”) at Stadschouwburg Amsterdam. He was chosen “Folia Person of the Year” in 2015 for his determined and industrious contribution to Rethink UvA, the driving force behind the drastic changes towards a more transparent and democratic governance of the university. He was laurelled as being “steadfast, gentlemanly and an intelligent debater”.