Gmail and a facelift for the UB

What's happening at the university? Afraid you missed anything? From this week on we bring you a weekly update of the most important news items of the week. This week: Gmail, Teacher of the Year and a protest against the Ukrainian government.

Vici-grant for four Groningers

thumb-geldFour RUG professors were awarded a prestigious Vici-grant and will receive 1.5 million euros to conduct research for five years. Rampal Etienne will research the origins of biodiversity in ecosystems by examining the DNA of species living within them. Leon Koopmans will study the characteristics of dark matter in the universe through the lens effect: the deflection of light rays by gravity. Katja Loos will develop new materials for mobile device technology. Gerard Roelfes will use biological synthesis to create new molecules – artificial metal enzymes – to implant into living cells.

Facelift plans for the UB

thumb-UBThe UB is getting a facelift to accommodate faculty libraries and more visitors with study spaces increasing from 1,700 to 2,200. Better access to Wi-Fi and outlets will be added, and services like book lending, the information desk and the canteen will be moved to the ground floor.

Upstairs, each floor will have silent study spaces, group work rooms and a soundproof break room. To make the building less stuffy, an energy-efficient ventilation system will also be installed. The university will choose an architect in February and renovations are scheduled to begin in September.

Postpone the transition to Gmail

thumb-GmailThe university council wants the RUG to postpone the transition to Gmail, citing safety and privacy concerns that haven’t been adequately researched. They request that the university board issue a statement about the status of these issues and explain why Google is a better option than the current RUG mail system, as well as why a proposed alternative Dropbox-like program should be trusted.

The university board does not see any reason to postpone the transition scheduled for 26 May and does not think it is necessary to issue any statement.

Zuidema is Teacher of the Year 2013

Docent van het jaar 2013Spatial science teacher Christian Zuidema was surprised to be named Teacher of the Year 2013 at a ceremony on 29 January. Every faculty nominated a candidate and each teacher gave a mini-lecture at the ceremony. Nine nervous nominees took part in the annual ‘celebration of research’.

In addition to Teacher of the Year, Professor Zuidema also received the audience choice award and 7,500 euros for his presentation on the energy landscape. Medical science professor Hans Burgerhof won the web prize and an e-reader.

Students protest against Ukrainian government

thumb-demonstratie-OekraineGroningen students are planning a demonstration in The Hague in support of the Ukrainian anti-government protestors. Francesca Cadoni, an Italian student of International Relations at the RUG, wants to show that students here are not indifferent to the ongoing protests.

‘We want to support our neighbors and let them see that they are not standing alone’, she says. The Young Democrats, one of the largest Dutch youth political organizations, endorses the protest. The demonstration will be held on 14 February. Buses will transport the protestors to and from Groningen.

Student cafes in the city center go bankrupt

thumb-cafe-kroegThree popular student cafes in the city center – De Tapperij, Negende Cirkel and Palm Beach – have gone bankrupt. Owner Peter Giezen filed for bankruptcy of the popular cafes, where many students have unpaid bar tabs. The total debt is one million euros. Giezen stopped paying rent on the properties and the staff has not been paid regularly since October. A court hearing for the bankruptcy filing is pending.