Eight Veni grants for Utrecht researchers

Young researchers receive grant to further develop ideas

Eight promising young researchers from Utrecht have been awarded a Veni grant of up to 280.000 euros by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). This will enable them to further develop their own research ideas over a period of three years. Four Venis will go to the Faculty of Humanities, two to the faculty of Law, Economics, Governance and Organisation, one to Social Sciences and one to UMC Utrecht.  

This round NWO is only announcing the Veni grants for the Social Sciences and Humanities. Veni grants for the other domains were announced in late 2021. Read this news item for the grants from the other domains. 

The awarded Veni projects

The Missing Entrepreneurs? The Diversity of Female Entrepreneurship in Europe, 1900-2020 

Dr. Selin Dilli (Humanities)

An exciting element of my project is that its interdisciplinary approach will lay the foundation for new intervention tools to stimulate female entrepreneurship today.

Female entrepreneurship is not a recent phenomenon. Nevertheless, we still know little about its historical development, let alone about the validity of contemporary theories to explain changes over time and between regions. Dilli’s project will change this by combining the social sciences and history disciplines to explain the change in different forms of female entrepreneurship in Europe since 1900. 

Beyond Binaries: Intersex in Islamic Legal Tradition

Dr. Mehrdad Alipour

This project compares the modern phenomenon of intersex with premodern sex/gender categories related to intersex people in Muslim societies.

Dr. Mehrdad Alipour

While since the sixteenth century Shiʿi jurists proposed a third gender to categorise intersex individuals, contemporary Islamic discourses employ a binary gender logic. Challenging the binary approach, Mehrdad Alipour's legal-hermeneutical study examines the little-understood non-binary conceptions of gender in Shiʿi Islamic law, which remain essential for intersex and transgender Muslims today.

Didactic Intention and Cultural Intervention: Contemporary Activist Authorship in Germany and Britain 

Dr. Leila Essa (Humanities)

My project positions authors as active research participants in exploring contemporary didactic strategies – and their translatability across cultural contexts.

Leila Essa's project analyses how authors from marginalised communities aim to reach – and teach! – wide audiences with works of literature, film, and theatre that are designed to disrupt ethno-nationalist visions of Germany and Britain. It rethinks didactic art and the significance of authorial intention in literary and cultural studies. 

Poetry in the age of global English 

dr. Mia You (Humanities)

I’m interested in how we might find pathways for the English language to co-exist with and even reinforce the vitality of local cultures. For this purpose, I propose that poetry might be language’s best-equipped laboratory.

This project examines how contemporary Anglophone poetry responds to the shifting political, economic, and aesthetic dynamics re-contextualizing and re-signifying the English language on a global scale. English is the most used language in the world, but now non-native speakers of English far outnumber native speakers, such that, as various linguists have pointed out, what has been called “Global English” should be regarded as a broadening variety of “New Englishes.” Through combining scientific and artistic research, Mia You explores how Anglophone literature can help develop strategies for intervening upon the language’s global domination, rather than simply reinforcing it. 

Read more about the Veni projects at the faculty of Humanities here

Bridging the pay gap. What LGBT couples teach us about gender inequality

Dr. Maaike van der Vleuten (Social Sciences) 

Through this project we will learn much more about the causes of gender inequality and (un)equality in the work and family life of LGBT couples. In doing so, we are using registry data from five different countries: that is unique.

Major life events such as marriage, childbirth and divorce increase the gender pay gap. This gender inequality is often explained on the basis of differences between the sexes, but what about in couples where there are no prior sex differences? By comparing the income progression of male and female couples with that of heterosexual couples, Maaike van der Vleuten's research investigates to what extent the wage gap that arises after major life events is actually explained by differences between the sexes in a relationship. In doing so, Van der Vleuten will make use of the largest source of information on gay couples to date, which will allow her to learn a great deal about the work and family life of gay couples in different countries.

Citizens to the rescue or going rogue? Harnessing the potential of online self-organization against crime 

Dr. Rianne Dekker (Law, Economics and Governance)

Government law enforcement is struggling with online citizen-led policing. Based on public administration research we know much about stimulating citizen self-organization, but not yet how to restrict unwanted aspects of it.

In academic and societal debate, citizen self-organization is seen as a positive development. However, online self-organization against crime raises important normative questions. Rianne Dekker will examine how social media logic changes citizen self-organization, how law enforcement evaluates this phenomenon and how we can harness the potential of online self-organization for policework. 

Read more about Dekker's Veni project here

Budgeting Decision Accuracy: Analysing and Advancing Decision-Making in Public Budgeting 

Dr. Tom Overmans, (Law, Economics and Governance) 

Politicians sometimes make inimitable financial decisions. This grant enables research that focuses on the budgeting behavior of individual politicians rather than collective dynamics.

Tom Overmans studies how lack of cognitive accuracy amongst politicians and bureaucrats affects the allocation of tax money. This harms effective and legitimate responses to societal challenges. Overmans maps effects of bias and noise on individual budget allocation, and studies how training, choice architecture and budget guidelines reduce lack of accuracy. 

Read more about Overman's Veni here

PANDA: feasibility of PediAtric Neural baseD communicAtion

Dr. Mariana Pedroso Branco (Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht)

Hundreds of children are born with severe physical impairment and are unable to communicate effectively. What if these children could use their brain signals to communicate and participate in society? An implantable communication Brain-Computer Interface (cBCI) would allow brain signals to be directly translated into computer commands, thereby enabling the user to control communication software. Although already possible for adults, the development of implanted cBCIs for children with disabilities has been left mostly untouched. Mariana Pedroso Branco will evaluate the feasibility of implantable cBCI technology to establish communication in children with severe physical impairments.