The University of Amsterdam is one of two large, publicly funded research universities in the city, the other being VU University Amsterdam (VU).
Founded in 1632 as the Athenaeum Illustre by the scholars Gerardus Vossius and Caspar Barlaeus, the University of Amsterdam is the third-oldest university in the Netherlands. The UvA is one of Europe’s largest research universities with an endowment of €613.5 million, 32,739 students, 5,090 staff, and 7,900 scientific publications each year. It is the largest university in the Netherlands by enrollment and has the second-largest university endowment in the country.
The campus of the UvA is located primarily in the City Centre of Amsterdam, with a few faculties located in adjacent bouroghs. The school lies within the largest megalopolis in the Netherlands, the Randstad, with a population of 7.2 million inhabitants.
University of Amsterdam research articles from Innovation Toronto
- When Will Scientists Grow Meat in a Petri Dish?
- Universal Property of Music Discovered
- Non-toxic, biodegradeable plastic resin promises cleaner construction materials
- Scaling up breakthrough optical fibre micro sensors for market
- Dutch research makes leprosy breakthrough
- New ‘Biopsy in a Blood Test’ to Detect Cancer
- Electromagnetic automobile suspension demonstrated
Dr David Eisenberg and Prof. Gadi Rothenberg of the University of Amsterdam’s Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences have invented a new type of supercapacitor material with a host of potential applications in electronics, transportation and energy storage devices. The UvA has filed a patent application on this invention.
Eisenberg and Rothenberg discovered the supercapacitor material during sideline experiments as part of the Fuel Cells project of the Research Priority Area Sustainable Chemistry. Originally, the materials were developed as solid catalytic electrodes for fuel cells. By modifying the surface of these materials the scientists created a highly porous yet well-structured compound, with ample sites for fast redox reactions, inspiring the successful testing for supercapacitance.
The new material combines several practical advantages: It is light, cheap, and non-toxic, and it can be prepared easily on a large scale. This last aspect is crucial for industrial applications, according to Eisenberg: ‘Companies making electronic devices look for low-cost, highly reproducible materials with a low environmental impact. The literature abounds with reports of high-performance electronic materials, but these will only be applied if they can be made cheaply in large quantities’.
How does Google decide which search results to display? Doctoral candidate Anne Schuth developed a new method by which dozens or even hundreds of search algorithms can be compared with each other simultaneously. This means that the best search algorithm can be selected faster than was previously possible.
Schuth will obtain his PhD from the UvA on 27 May.
A search query can turn up many webpages – often in the millions – with possible answers. Search engines such as Google are continually developing new algorithms to sort through all of those pages. In his research, Anne Schuth focused on developing methods to compare these search algorithms efficiently.
Interleaving vs. multileaving
One of the methods currently being used for this purpose is called ‘interleaving’. In this method, two algorithms are compared by displaying their search results alternately in a single list of results intended for the search engine’s user. The user, who is then unable to see where the results came from, merely clicks on the result which gives the preferred answer. With interleaving, it is possible to determine which of the two search algorithms led to the desired answer and thus to conclude which was the better algorithm. By repeating this process with millions of users, a reliable conclusion can be drawn as to the more effective algorithm.
New hope for endangered corals: SECORE-scientists take an important step towards sustainable restoration of Caribbean reefs.
Researchers of SECORE International (USA, Germany), the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) and the Carmabi Marine Research Station (Curaçao) have for the first time successfully raised laboratory-bred colonies of a threatened Caribbean coral species to sexual maturity. “In 2011, offspring of the critically endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) were reared from gametes collected in the field and were outplanted to a reef one year later”, explains Valérie Chamberland, coral reef ecologist working for SECORE and Carmabi. “In four years, these branching corals have grown to a size of a soccer ball and reproduced, simultaneously with their natural population, in September 2015. This event marks the first ever successful rearing of a threatened Caribbean coral species to its reproductive age.” These findings have been published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Bulletin of Marine Science.
Due to its large size and branching shape, elkhorn corals created vast forests in shallow reef waters that protect shores from incoming storms and provide a critical habitat for a myriad of other reef organisms, including ecologically and economically important fish species. An estimated 80% of all Caribbean corals have disappeared over the last four decades and repopulating degraded reefs has since become a management priority throughout the Caribbean region. The elkhorn coral was one of the species whose decline was so severe that it was one of the first coral species to be listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species act in 2006, and as critically endangered under the IUCN Red List of Threatened species in 2008. Consequently, measures to aid Caribbean reef recovery often focus on the elkhorn coral given its major decline and its ecological importance.
Since 2010, SECORE, Carmabi, and partners from aquariums around the world such as Curaçao Sea Aquarium, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Henry Doorly Zoo, started a project aimed at developing techniques to rear larger numbers of elkhorn coral offspring so they could eventually be outplanted to degraded reefs throughout the Caribbean. “Our approach differs substantially from the one generally used by the large number of reef restoration groups that operate throughout the Caribbean”, explains Dirk Petersen, coral reef expert and director of SECORE. “These groups generally use the ‘coral gardening’ approach, where small fragments are harvested from coral colonies on the reef. The fragments are then grown in special nurseries to larger sizes before they are returned to the reef.” Although this method has been applied throughout the Caribbean, it does not allow for new genetic combinations as the fragments harbor the same genes as the donor colonies and are therefore copies of their parents. “By contrast, SECORE developed a technique whereby male and female gametes are caught in the wild and fertilized in the laboratory to raise larger numbers of genetically unique corals”, says Dirk Petersen.
Elkhorn corals reproduce only once or twice a year, generally a few days after the full moon in August. During those nights, ,Acropora colonies synchronously release their gametes into the water column. The project team collects a small proportion of these gametes by gently placing special nets around spawning colonies to collect the floating gamete bundles. After collection, the researchers produce coral embryos by in vitro fertilization, mixing sperm and eggs in the laboratory. Coral embryos develop into swimming larvae within days and eventually settle onto specifically designed substrates. After a short nursery period, the project team outplants the substrates with the newly settled corals to the reef. Details on the techniques developed by SECORE during this project were recently published in the scientific journal Global Ecology and Conservation.
“We just learned that elkhorn corals can reach sexual maturity in only 4 years. This is exciting news, as we now know that offspring raised in the laboratory and outplanted to a reef can contribute to the natural pool of gametes during the annual mass-spawning of elkhorn corals within 4 years”, says Valérie Chamberland. By using a restoration method based on sexual rather than asexual (or clonal) reproduction, the SECORE method also promotes the formation of new genotypes that could potentially cope better with the conditions on modern reefs than their already struggling parents. These sexually-bred corals therefore not only aid in the recovery of dwindling elkhorn coral populations by increasing the number of colonies, but also by increasing the genetic diversity of this critically endangered species, thus giving evolution the opportunity to play its part.
Read more: Laboratory-bred corals reproduce in the wild
Meat grown using tissue engineering techniques, so-called ‘cultured meat’, would generate up to 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally produced meat, according to a new study.
The analysis, carried out by scientists from Oxford University and the University of Amsterdam, also estimates that cultured meat would require 7-45% less energy to produce than the same volume of pork, sheep or beef. It would require more energy to produce than poultry but only a fraction of the land area and water needed to rear chickens.
A report of the team’s research is published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
‘What our study found was that the environmental impacts of cultured meat could be substantially lower than those of meat produced in the conventional way,’ said Hanna Tuomisto of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, who led the research. ‘Cultured meat could potentially be produced with up to 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions, 45% less energy, 99% lower land use, and 96% lower water use than conventional meat.’