NWO Veni grants for four young Nikhef researchers

5 November 2020

Four young Nikhef researchers will receive a Veni grant to set up their own research over the next three years. This was announced by science financier NWO on Thursday. A total of 162 of these talent grants have been awarded in this round.

With four Veni grants, Nikhef scores well in the new round of research grants from the NWO Talent Programme. A Veni grant amounts to a maximum of 250 thousand euros and is intended to further elaborate one’s own research ideas.

Two of the four awarded Nikhef proposals are related to the ALICE-experiment at CERN, where the plasma of quarks and gluons is investigated that is created when heavy nuclei, such as lead, collide hard in the LHC accelerator. This research is concentrated at Utrecht University.

Naghmeh Mohammadi previously obtained a PhD with ALICE on research into this artificial primal matter. In her new research she wants to look at the origin of the plasma in collisions of lighter atomic nuclei instead of lead. After her PhD Mohammadi worked in business for a while, but now she returns to science.

Post-doc Henrique Zanoli of the ALICE-group studies the way particles move through the formed quark-gluon plasma and end up in the detector from the collision. Much is still unknown about this, while the particles are the only way to look into the plasma.

Particle physicist Hannah Arnold is affiliated with the Nikhef group at the ATLAS detector at CERN, where the Higgs particle was discovered in 2012. Arnold studies the influence of the Higgs particle on the heavier beauty and charm quarks, beyond the quarks in ordinary matter. She hopes to find clues for a better particle theory.

Suzanne Klaver, affiliated with the VU Amsterdam and Nikhef, works on the LHCb experiment at CERN. She will investigate subtle differences between the three generations of quarks known in particle physics. Possibly this will lead to an explanation in the future why only three quark families seem to exist in nature.

Nikhef director Stan Bentvelsen says to be happy and proud with the four awards by NWO. ‘It shows that we are able to bind talented young scientists to Nikhef. The questions we try to answer about the building blocks of the universe are inspiring and continue to appeal to the imagination.’ In the broad Veni program, young scientists from physicists and biologists to sociologists and economists can submit proposals.