Five ERC Advanced Grants for Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Professors Herbert Bos (Computer Science), Johannes de Boer (Biophotonics), Roberta Croce (Biophysics), Thomas Spijkerboer (Migration Law) and Ulbe Bosma (International Comparative Social History) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam each receive an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). These grants are the most prestigious awards for individual researchers, granted for groundbreaking research. It is noteworthy that five scientists from VU receive an ERC Advanced Grant, spanning the disciplines of law, computer science, history and even two within natural and astrophysics.

"I am particularly proud of this well-deserved recognition for our researchers," says VU Rector Magnificus Jeroen Geurts. "Not only for the innovative and groundbreaking research of these scientists but also for the tremendous commitment and dedication with which these researchers strive for a better future."


Physicist Johannes F. de Boer, Professor of Biophotonics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, receives an Advanced Grant for his research program ’Immuno-OCT’. With this, he will develop a new optical endoscopic imaging technique to detect cancer in the human body with a resolution 10 to 100 times higher than currently possible. The major challenge is to develop very small motorized catheters that can penetrate deep into the body using light to determine both the structure and molecular composition of tissue.


Herbert Bos, professor of Computer Science, receives an Advanced Grant for the research program ’Ghostbuster’, through which he aims to stop the most advanced hacker attacks using a software model.
Fared Well
Roberta Croce, professor of Biophysics, receives an Advanced Grant for her research program ’Fared Well’, through which she aims to improve photosynthesis. Photosynthesis sustains almost all life on earth, but it is highly inefficient. Currently, less than one percent of the available solar energy is converted into biomass in crops. Plants only use visible light, so more than half of the sunlight that reaches us is not utilized. This especially limits photosynthesis in crops.
Thomas Spijkerboer, professor of Migration Law, receives an Advanced Grant for the research program MIGJUST. With this, he will examine the unrecognized, fundamental conflict between the European Court of Human Rights, which adopts a sovereignty approach in its migration jurisprudence that normalizes sedentarism, and the Inter-American and African human rights commissions and courts, which adopt a human rights approach that normalizes mobility. This fragmentation of international law also occurs in UN human rights committees.
SevenFrontiers: The Global South in the Age of Early Industrial Capitalism
The ERC advanced grant that was awarded to Ulbe Bosma (Endowed Professor of International Comparative Social History at the VU and Senior Researcher at the International Institute of Social History where the project will be hosted) provides a highly important contribution to acquire for the very first time a comprehensive understanding of the immense transformative effects of commodity frontiers in the Global South that fed the rise of early industrial capitalism, in the decisive years between the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the opening of the Suez Canal in in 1869.

ERC Advanced Grants

The ERC awards Advanced Grants of at least 2.5 million euros to leading principal investigators pursuing groundbreaking, ambitious projects. In total, 255 scientists in Europe, including 23 in the Netherlands, have been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant. More information can be found in the ERC press release.