Swaantje Mondt Fund 2022: A retrospective

Recipients focused on topics ranging from polymer physics to savanna vegetation

Since 2017, the Swaantje Mondt Fund offers PhD candidates a springboard for pursuing challenging and groundbreaking research while enriching their knowledge and network. At the same time, it provides an unforgettable personal experience for the young researchers. Recipients of the 2022 funding dedicated their grant to broaden their horizon in widely varying research topics.

Broadening your horizons as well as increasing your knowledge and network are crucial for young researchers to make great strides in their work. To enable PhD candidates take this step, the Swaantje Mondt Fund offers the financial means of visiting knowledge institution abroad. Utrecht University’s Centre for Complex Systems Studies coordinates the selection of grant applications.

Vegetation patterns

The 2022 funding round allowed ten PhD candidates to travel abroad and get inspired by state-of-the-art knowledge about complexity research. The selected researchers set to work in a wide variety of research topics. For instance, Swarnendu Banerjee worked towards a model mathematical model to explain vegetation patterns in the savannas. Visiting the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate in Turin, and closely working together with experts there, allowed Banerjee to further develop and refine his models.

Food transition for indigenous communities

Another recipient of the Swaantje Mondt Fund, Silja Zimmermann, used the grant to refine the study of leveraging a food transition for Indigenous communities in the Bering Sea. Visiting the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the researcher closely cooperated with environmental anthropologists and political ecologists to gain more knowledge on interpreting and analyzing interview data. In addition, Zimmerman conducted field studies at Alaska’s St. Paul Island.

Entrepreneurial ecosystems

In very different area of expertise, grant recipient Mirella Schrijvers focused entrepreneurial ecosystems in Europe. Schrijvers visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and soon realized how innovation and entrepreneurship, more specifically the entrepreneurial ecosystem and innovation system literature, are very much developing separately. Investigating this became the main theme of her research visit, and resulted a first paper about measuring the entrepreneurial and innovation capacity of European regions.

My presentation sparked some very interesting discussions. People had been working on similar problems that I was not aware of

Seminars and discussion

But for all grant recipients, an important benefit of their stay abroad was the opportunity to attend seminars on complex systems studies, or even give seminars themselves. “My presentation sparked some very interesting discussions,” said one of the recipients. “People had been working on similar problems (…) that I was not aware of.”

Apart from seminars, being a part of a research group abroad sparked creativity and inspiration, as all of the 2022 fund recipients attested. “I showed the group what work we are doing in Utrecht (…), which contained useful ideas for (them) as well”, said one of the grant recipients. “It greatly extended my network, and I have spent a large part of my visit talking to people exchanging ideas.”

Ten recipients

Since its founding, the Swaantje Mondt Fund has offered 27 PhD candidates a grant. Ten of them were selected in 2022.

The recipients in 2022 affiliated with Utrecht University include:

  • Swarnendu Banerjee (Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development)
  • Mikael Kaandorp (Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht)
  • Ana Macanovic (Department of Sociology)
  • Mirella Schrijvers (School of Economics)
  • Arpit Chandan Swain (Department of Biology)
  • Silja Zimmermann (Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development)

The recipients visiting Utrecht University’s CCSS from abroad were:

  • Lucas Mangas Araújo (University of Oxford)
  • Benjamin Patrick Evens (University of Sydney)
  • Vanessa Jacquier (University of Florence)
  • Valeria Secchini (Charles University)

In loving memory of Swaantje Mondt

The Swaantje Mondt Fund originates from a generous gift by Martine and Jaap Mondt. Through the Swaantje Mondt Fund they offer PhD candidates of Utrecht University the opportunity to either conduct part of their research abroad or to follow courses abroad to further develop their research skills. Foreign PhD candidates working on complexity research are also welcome to come to Utrecht. Both benefactors of the Swaantje Mondt Fund have gained valuable international experience during their career, and wish to offer young talented researchers the same experience. The fund was founded in memory to their beloved daughter Swaantje.