Sven Gins is a finalist for ‘young historian of the year’

Medieval historian Sven Gins is a finalist for the title ‘young historian of the year’. Gins is a researcher at the UG focusing on the relationship between humans and animals in the Middle Ages, including court cases where animals were tried. He is also developing a board game on this theme.

The Young Historian of the Year is aimed at inspring historians under 30 years old who are able to promote the field like no other. The final, with two rival candidates from Radboud University, will take place on November 11 in Amsterdam.


Another asbestos investigation in Nijenborgh

A room in Nijenborgh 4, building 5118, has been closed for an asbestos investigation. It concerns the office of study association Lugus, where a ceiling tile has fallen down. According to UG spokesperson Elies Wempe-Kouwenhoven, the tile fell due to the wind blowing into the room through an open window. No one is allowed into the room until the asbestos investigation is completed. When exactly that will be is not yet known. At the end of October, building 5113 was completely closed for investigation following the discovery of broken radiator seals containing asbestos.

Consolidator Grants for two UG researchers

FSE researchers Clemens Mayer and Danny Incarnato have both been awarded a prestigious 2 million euro ERC Consolidator Grant. Clemens Mayer focuses on protein evolution. Researchers in laboratories have been using targeted evolutionary techniques for years to develop enzymes. However, this process requires a tremendous amount of time and manpower. Through a so-called 'continuous evolution approach', this process can now be accomplished in a matter of days instead of months or years. Danny Incarnato made a mark during the Covid pandemic. He and his team deciphered the complete structure of the RNA genome of SARS-CoV-2. He aims to utilise this knowledge to develop medications targeted at RNA.

Office furniture to be reused as much as possible

The UG aims to adopt a more sustainable approach to office furniture. Not everything will be purchased brand new as standard practice anymore; instead, the focus will be on refurbishing, repairing, or modifying old furniture. Items that have become surplus will, whenever possible, find a place elsewhere within the university. When new furniture is necessary, the preference will be for sustainably produced pieces. The university has recently devised plans for this approach in collaboration with the new office furniture supplier, Vepa-Interoffice. The new location for the law faculty, the Röling building, has already been furnished following this new approach. Nearly a hundred old Gispen chairs have been refurbished, and 50 percent of the old office chairs have been retained from the previous building.

Ancillary activities to be published automatically from now on

Starting November 21, all approved ancillary activities of UG employees will automatically be published on their profile page. Previously, they had to manually update that page, but that's now a thing of the past. This change follows agreements made with the umbrella organisation Universities of the Netherlands. University employees are required to be transparent about activities that might have a connection to their work for the university. Therefore, all employees with ancillary activities must have a publicly available profile page.

Universities need to do more for disabled students

Almost 40 percent of university and university of applied sciences students have a functional impairment, but not all institutions offer adequate facilities to support them, according to a report published on Thursday by the Expertise Centre for Inclusive Education. Inaccessible buildings, lacking examination accommodations, and insufficient information about additional assistance are among the issues highlighted. According to the report, the available support strongly depends on the institution where a student is enrolled. That needs to change, says national student association ISO. 'It cannot be that the level of support depends on the city where you study', says chairperson Demi Janssen.

Quota for open access publications Springer Nature reached

Researchers who still want to publish open access in scientific journals from publisher Springer Nature this year are out of luck: the annual quota has again been reached well before the end of the year. According to the national agreement, authors from Dutch universities can publish a total of 2067 open access publications free of charge. Now that this quota has been reached, the counter starts again on 1 January 2024. Those who still want to publish in Springer Nature journals this year can do so behind a pay wall and still make the articles open access at a later date.

ACLO celebrates record number of athletes with VAAF painting

Student sports organisation ACLO has passed the mark of 20,000 sporting students for the first time. To celebrate, the organisation asked painting duo VAAF - known for, among other things, the Aletta Jacobs mural at the University Library in the city centre - to create a mural of sporting students. Now the mural hangs above the stands in the sports centre's Struikhal. VAAF depicted different sports on separate panels. According to ACLO, this shows the diversity of sports on offer. Because of the loose panels, the mural can also be taken to a possible new sports centre in the future.

Find your way out of the fire brigade’s escape room

Do you know what to do in case of fire? This week you can test it in a fire brigade escape room, which was designed by students of NHL Stenden in Leeuwarden to look like a student room. Participants have to find a key within 10 minutes by solving puzzles about fire safety.  The escape room will be set up at three locations in Groningen, each time between 13:00 and 19:00. On November 7, it will be in front of the university library on Broerplein, on November 8 on Vismarkt and on November 9 in front of the Bernoulliborg on the Zernike Campus.

Exhibition on old Hortus at BSS

An exhibition on the old Hortus Botanicus will open Tuesday afternoon in the courtyard of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS). Nowadays, the Hortus garden can be found in Haren, but until 1966, it was located behind the Heymans and Bouman buildings between the Grote Rozenstraat and Grote Kruisstraat. The opening takes place between 4:30 and 5:30 pm.

Van Gogh returns to Groningen

In 1896, members of Vindicat organised one of the largest Van Gogh exhibitions ever held, at the Groninger Museum. In November 2024, the museum will tell the story about that exhibition. The students aimed to shake up the dormant art scene in Groningen. They organised six exhibitions, with the most remarkable being the one featuring Van Gogh. The group managed to bring together 128 of his works. There were also works on display by other innovators in the art world – something the museum intends to do again next year. Bringing together 128 Van Goghs once more might not be achievable, according to guest curator Mariëtta Jansen. ‘If we have ten or fifteen, I will already be very happy’, she said to RTV Noord.

Student housing provider Xior wants to sell Zernike Tower

Belgian newspaper De Tijd is reporting that Belgian student housing provider Xior wants to sell the Zernike Tower, where it can get up to 50 degrees Celsius in some rooms in summer. Xior bought the building three years ago for 92 million euros and now wants to get rid of it to pay for some of its debts. How much the building will go for has not yet been announced. It comprises a total of seven hundred rooms with a monthly rent between 620 and 1,100 euros. Xior's flats on the Eendrachtskade and Oosterhamrikkade will not be sold for the time being.

Lower House: Lower interest rates for bad-luck students

A majority of the Dutch Lower House wants the interest rate on the student debt of the ‘bad luck generation’ to be lowered. However, the exact reduction remains unknown. Last week, the Lower House adopted a motion from GroenLinks/PvdA and ChristenUnie to freeze the interest on student loans for the bad luck generation for the upcoming year. This would be funded by reducing the tax benefit for expatriates. A second motion from D66 and SP to reduce the interest on student debt to zero did not pass.

Solar car Green Thunder finishes sixth in Australia

The Top Dutch Solar Racing team finished sixth during the World Solar Challenge in Australia; one place higher than the place they secured in the intermediate classification. ‘The journey was not always easy, but still we persevered and never gave up’, the team reported on social media. Top Dutch had hoped to cross the finish line as early as Thursday (local time), but faced a technical problem. As a result, they were not allowed to drive into Adelaide until Friday.

ERC grants for three UG scientists

Three UG researchers from the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) have been awarded a Synergy Grant by the European Research Council. The first is for Dirk Slotboom (2.1 million euros) for his research on the operation of molecular machines (membrane proteins), entitled Grail Sijbren Otto is getting a grant of 3.4 million for the project Minilife: Can life be created in a lab? Finally, Elisabetta Chicca will receive 2.7 million euros for the project Swims, on research into smart wireless multimodal sensing systems. Iris Sommer of the UMCG was also awarded an ERC Synergy Grant. She is coordinator for the Delta-Lang project on psychotic relapse.

Fire safety checks in over 600 student houses

Starting Monday 30 October, the fire brigade will carry out unannounced fire safety checks in over six hundred Groningen student houses with five or more rooms. Research shows that the fire safety situation in student houses often isn't up to code. During the inspection, smoke detectors, escape routes, electricity, and wiring in the student houses will be checked, as well as the placement of flammable objects such as candles and incense. The inspectors can be recognised by their uniform and red fire brigade (passenger) car, and can identify themselves by means of a pass or letter that reads 'besluit toewijzing toezichthouders'. The checks will be held until Friday 10 November.

Money for construction of student housing

The Dutch Lower House provided 20 million euros as an impetus for the construction of new student housing. These are plans that are otherwise financially unfeasible. The National Student Housing Monitor 2023, published in September, shows that the Netherlands lacks 23,700 student houses. The room shortage is expected to increase to nearly 40,000 over the coming years, rising to more than 55,000 by the 2030/2031 academic year. So far, between 20,000 and 25,000 new student housing units are planned.

UG subsidises union membership until end of November

University employees who become members of a union before the end of November will pay half of the membership fee for the first year. The UG will cover the other half. This so-called Union Month was held for the first time this year, but according to the unions, due to holiday periods, they have reached far too few employees. Therefore, they have been granted permission by the board of directors to extend the campaign. The unions will organise two more meetings for non-members at the beginning of November.