Wie is wie

Sluit je aan bij de onderzoekscommunity van het Origins Center – het kennisplatform voor en door onderzoekers werkzaam in Nederland op het gebied van de oorsprong en evolutie van het leven.

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Karen Bisschop

IBED, University of Amsterdam

Karen Bisschop

IBED, University of Amsterdam

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Fields of interest:

The common thread of my research is the impact of the spatial and community context on adaptation. I performed evolutionary experiments with an arthropod herbivore species (Tetranychus urticae) to test its adaptation to novel host plants under different conditions. I am also intrigued by the microbiota living inside multicellular hosts and this led me to perform both field and lab work to further investigate correlations between hosts, their diet and microbiome, and how these are affected by environmental factors. Currently, I am involved in the 'Predicting Evolution' project to test how robust and predictable evolutionary results are across different institutes in The Netherlands and Belgium using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model species.

evolutionary biology, ecology, experimental evolution

Thomas Blankers

IBED, University of Amsterdam

Thomas Blankers

IBED, University of Amsterdam

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Fields of interest:

I work on the predictability of genetic adaptation during evolution. We have introduced the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a universal model species in biology, to a novel bacterial food source and observed how C. elegans growth rates adapt to this novel environmental challenge. My role is to analyze the genomes of these nematodes before and after adaptation to find the genetic underpinnings and explore the factors that determine the extent to which genetic adaptation is predictable.

evolutionary genomics, quantitative genetics, animal communication

Mirte Bosse

Wageningen University & Research - Animal Breeding and Genomics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Ecological Science, Animal Ecology Group

Mirte Bosse

Wageningen University & Research - Animal Breeding and Genomics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Ecological Science, Animal Ecology Group

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Fields of interest:

I have an expertise in population and conservation genomics in wildlife and livestock. I am interested in how genetic variation arises, is maintained and lost in animal populations, and how this variation can be used for conservation.

Conservation genomics, population genomics, evolutionary genomics

C

Eloi Camprubi

Utrecht University, Origins Center

Eloi Camprubi

Utrecht University, Origins Center

Website

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Fields of interest:

I work in understanding how and why chemical networks display life-like properties and in revealing under which conditions these transitions are promoted. I aim to be involved in the design of space exploration missions targeting the water-rich planetary bodies of the Solar System.

Origin of life, astrobiology, prebiotic chemistry, metabolism, bioenergetics

Enrico Sandro Colizzi

Origins Centre, Leiden University

Enrico Sandro Colizzi

Origins Centre, Leiden University

Website

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Fields of interest:

I work on understanding how higher levels of biological organisation originate from - and feed back to - lower-level components, and how these multilevel systems evolve. I am currently focusing on three topics: how genetic elements in the RNA world evolve into cellular life; the co-evolution of ecological dynamics and genome structure; and the evolution of multicellularity.

Multilevel evolution, RNA world, Genome evolution, Eco-evolutionary dynamics

D

G

Astrid T. Groot

Department head Evolutionary & Population Biology (EPB) at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), University of Amsterdam

Astrid T. Groot

Department head Evolutionary & Population Biology (EPB) at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), University of Amsterdam

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Our research focuses on the evolution of sexual attraction in relation to speciation, and how our knowledge on evolutionary processes can help to predict evolution. We use model (C. elegans) and non-model (Lepidoptera) organisms, with which we conduct field and lab experiments, as well as quantitative and population genetic analyses.

Evolutionary biology

H

Matthias Heinemann

University of Groningen

Matthias Heinemann

University of Groningen

Website

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Fields of interest:

More than 1000 different chemical reactions in cells convert food molecules into the building blocks for new cells and energy. We found that this network oscillates in an autonomous manner. We would like to find out whether these oscillations are an early coordinator of the cell growth and division process.

Systems biology, microbiology, metabolism, cell cycle

Frank Helmich

SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research & Kapteyn Astronomical Institute

Frank Helmich

SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research & Kapteyn Astronomical Institute

Website

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Fields of interest:

I am an astrochemist by training but with a keen interest in scientific instrument building, mainly in the far-IR regime. One of the main areas of interest for the astrophysical community today is the question of the origin(s) of life and its associated star- and planet-formation.

space research, astrophysics

Dennis Höning

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Earth Sciences, Origins Center

Dennis Höning

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Earth Sciences, Origins Center

Website

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Fields of interest:

I work on the interior and global evolution of Earth and other rocky planets. I explore interactions between reservoirs such as the influence of life on global volatile cycles. My goal is to understand how inhabited planets differ from lifeless planets and to use this knowledge to search for life beyond Earth.

Planetary evolution, Habitability, Astrobiology

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Inga Kamp

Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen

Inga Kamp

Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen

Website

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Fields of interest:

I like to understand how planets form from the disks of gas and dust around young stars. My focus within the ORIGINS centre is on connecting the chemical composition of the disk to that of the building blocks of planets and eventually the planets themselves. I do this by observing the gas, ice and dust component  in planet forming disks and combining this with radiation thermo-chemical disk models to interpret observational data. From there, I extrapolate to the ongoing planet forming processes in the mid plane of these disks that are often "hidden to direct astronomical observations".

formation of planetary systems

Inge Loes ten Kate

Voorzitter Stuurgroep

Utrecht University

Inge Loes ten Kate

Voorzitter Stuurgroep

Utrecht University

Website

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Fields of interest:

I am very much interested in the relation between planet and life. On one hand I am interested in the role of the planet in the origin of life: What are the minimal conditions needed for life to start, what is the role of delivered material, especially organics and water, which geochemical processes transitioned into biochemical processes? In my group we use two experimental facilities to study several of these processes: a planetary surface simulation chamber and a hydrothermal vent-on-a-chip. On the other hand I am interested in the role of life in planetary evolution: would the Earth have developed the same without life, could certain geological, Earth specific processes serve as signatures of life?

(photo: PAAR Photography 2019)

Planetary science, astrobiology

Nathalie Katsonis

University of Groningen

Nathalie Katsonis

University of Groningen

Website

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Swimming cells follow helical trajectories - including bacteria, zooplankton, sperm cells, ciliates and protozoa. We use minimal models of swimming cells to research the rules that govern their motile behavior in water. One of our conclusions is that the operation of artificial molecular machines can steer this helical motion in specific directions.

chemistry

Gijsje Koenderink

Delft University of Technology

Gijsje Koenderink

Delft University of Technology

Website

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Fields of interest:

Our aim is to understand how the cytoskeletal framework of cells and the extracellular matrix framework of tissues determine the unique mechanical behavior of human cells and tissues. We contribute to the nationwide effort to build a minimal synthetic cell (Basyc) capable of autonomous division, and also translate our research in biomedical applications such as tissue (re)generation. Finally, we pursue the design of new materials with life-like properties.

cell and tissue biophysics

Ivan Kryven

Utrecht University

Ivan Kryven

Utrecht University

Website

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Fields of interest:

I am interested in mathematical modelling of chemical evolution and complex reaction networks that may emerge from several basic compounds. To this end I use graph theory, dynamical systems, and automatically generated reaction networks.

Graph automata, Dynamical Systems, Reaction Networks

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Liedewij Laan

Lid Stuurgroep

TU Delft

Liedewij Laan

Lid Stuurgroep

TU Delft

Website

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Fields of interest:

As pioneers of the emerging field of evolutionary cell biophysics, we aim to understand how the building blocks of a cell constrain and facilitate evolution of cellular functions. The function we focus on is symmetry breaking in budding yeast. We do experimental evolution, quantitative cell biology and modeling in live cells in combination with minimal in vitro systems to understand the molecular mechanisms of adaptive mutations and to predict fitness, both with bottom-up (biophysics) and top-down (statistical) approaches.

cell biophysics, predicting evolution, minimal synthetic systems

Joyce Lebbink

Erasmus MC

Joyce Lebbink

Erasmus MC

Website

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Fields of interest:

We study the molecular mechanism of DNA mismatch repair by reconstitution of the reaction from individually purified proteins and DNA components in the test tube. In this way we can study order, timing and control of different reaction steps and correlate with predictions from stochastic modelling approaches. This integrated approach allows us to unravel how this important cellular pathway has evolved in different organisms.
biochemistry; DNA repair

Harold Linnartz

Laboratory for Astrophysics / Leiden Observatory / Leiden University

Harold Linnartz

Laboratory for Astrophysics / Leiden Observatory / Leiden University

Website

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Fields of interest:

In my research work I use laboratory experiments to address the chemical processes that result in molecule formation under inter- and circumstellar conditions. A special focus is on the formation of molecules relevant to life, water and COMs, complex organic molecules that are considered building blocks of (pre)biotic species.

Laboratory astrophysics, astrochemistry, molecular spectroscopy

M

Jan van Maarseveen

Universiteit van Amsterdam

Jan van Maarseveen

Universiteit van Amsterdam

Website

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Fields of interest:

Photosynthesis is the key of all life on earth. Before that, electrons were extracted from sulfur or from Iron. How did those first extremely simple redox reactions go creating the first building blocks of life is a highly intriguing question for me!

Synthetic Organic Chemistry

Omer Markovitch

University of Groningen, Origins Center

Omer Markovitch

University of Groningen, Origins Center

Website

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Fields of interest:

Studying the origins of life by extending principles from evolutionary biology to chemical replicators

Systems Chemistry, Prebiotic evolution, Computational chemistry, Artificial life, Water structure and dynamics

Roeland Merks

Leiden University

Roeland Merks

Leiden University

Website

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Fields of interest:

I am interested in the origins of multicellular life. How did single cells decide to collaborate in multicellular structures? How did task division originate, such as the cell differentiation into neurons, muscle cells, blood vessel cells, and so forth? How is it possible that somitic cells give up their own chance to contribute to the next generation in favour of a small number of germ cells? And why do somitic cells not attempt to escape their supporting role more often, such as in cancer? We address these questions using mathematical and computational modeling.

Computational Biology, Theoretical Biology, Cell-Based Modeling, Morphogenesis, Angiogenesis

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Sijbren Otto

Lid Stuurgroep

University of Groningen

Sijbren Otto

Lid Stuurgroep

University of Groningen

Website

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Fields of interest:

Our long-term aim is to make life de-novo. We are working on the integration of self-replication with metabolism and compartmentalization while operating the system far from equilibrium (in a replication-destruction regime) allowing it to undergo Darwinian evolution. Through these efforts a plausible path to a completely synthetic form of life is starting to be unveiled.

chemistry, systems chemistry, origins of life, synthesis of life

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Bob Planqué

Lid Stuurgroep

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Bob Planqué

Lid Stuurgroep

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Website

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Fields of interest:

I try to understand how single celled organisms deal with changes in their environment, using mathematical modeling. How does their cellular organisation allow them to control their fate, control stochastic disturbances caused by others or indeed by themselves, and remain competitive in an ever-changing world?

mathematical biology

S

Shraddha Shitut

Leiden University, Origins Center

Shraddha Shitut

Leiden University, Origins Center

Website

Networks:

Fields of interest:

Evolutionary change within and between species arises gradually via the slow accumulation of mutations. However, large changes via so-called major transitions can give rise to fundamentally new forms of organismal complexity. Using a combination of experimental evolution, synthetic biology and predictive mathematical modelling, I aim to tackle these unknowns, more specifically the initial steps from simple (single genome) to complex cells (multiple chromosomes).

Microbial ecology and evolution, bacterial metabolism

Evan Spruijt

Radboud University Nijmegen

Evan Spruijt

Radboud University Nijmegen

Website

Bio:


          

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Fields of interest:

Compartmentalization is a cornerstone of all living systems. We aim to understand how life-like functions such as self-replication, growth and division, could have emerged in simple compartments formed by phase separation under prebiotic conditions. We have developed several minimal model systems that show active growth, dissipative adaptation and self-division. Our ultimate goal is to be able to create a self-proliferating protocell from a mixture of non-living building blocks.
systems chemistry, origins of life, self-assembly, protocells, synthetic cells

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Floris van der Tak

Lid Stuurgroep

SRON & University of Groningen

Floris van der Tak

Lid Stuurgroep

SRON & University of Groningen

Website

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Fields of interest:

My group studies the chemistry of star- and planet-forming regions, and the origin of habitability on planets. We observe clouds, stars, and (exo)planets with ground- and space-based telescopes at infrared and radio wavelengths. We compare the measured composition of planetary atmospheres and planetary systems in formation to predictions of astro- and geochemical models.

astrophysics, astrochemistry, astrobiology

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Bert Vermeersen

TU Delft and Royal NIOZ

Bert Vermeersen

TU Delft and Royal NIOZ

Website

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Fields of interest:

Search for habitability of icy moons in our Solar System and around exoplanets

Planetary Sciences and Exploration, Geodynamics

Renske Vroomans

University of Amsterdam, Origins Center

Renske Vroomans

University of Amsterdam, Origins Center

Website

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Fields of interest:

I work on the evolution of multicellularity. I am interested in the evolution of early developmental programs. Once cells find themselves in a multicellular cluster, how do they start dividing tasks and making sure that the right cells are in the right place? This is connected to the evolution of body axes: the head-tail axes in animals for instance.

Evolutionary developmental biology, theoretical biology

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Bregje Wertheim

Lid Stuurgroep

University of Groningen

Bregje Wertheim

Lid Stuurgroep

University of Groningen

Website

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Fields of interest:

I am fascinated by the genomic basis of evolution: how the genome shapes and affects the ability of organisms to adapt. It is only since a decade that technology allowed us to start quantifying genomic variation within and among species. In my research, I have been employing state-of-the-art technologies and analyses to investigate the true complexity of evolutionary processes and answer long-standing questions in evolution, mapping how genomes change during evolution and how these changes are manifested in gene networks.

Evolutionary genomics of ecological interactions

Wim van Westrenen

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Wim van Westrenen

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Website

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Fields of interest:

I am interested in rocky planet formation and early evolution. In the context of the Origins Centre I would like to learn more about the geological context for origin of life by studying the interplay between the chemistry and dynamics of proto-planetary disks and the interior structure, surface and atmospheric properties of rocky exoplanets.

Aardwetenschappen, planetary science

Meike Wortel

University of Amsterdam

Meike Wortel

University of Amsterdam

Website

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Fields of interest:

How do species evolve and how is this affected by interactions with other species? I focus on micro-organisms and host-microbe interactions, and their interaction through metabolism.

Evolutionary systems biology

Gijs Wuite

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Gijs Wuite

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Website

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Fields of interest:

My group is part of the Physics of Living Systems Section in the faculty of Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The research in the group focuses on exploring DNA-proteins interactions and biophysical/biomechanical properties of viral capsids & cells. The aim is to work with increasingly more complex assemblies of proteins to investigate the emergent properties from these systems. This approach bridges experimental systems biology and single-molecule manipulation techniques. We use a variety of techniques such as optical tweezers, AFM, and single-molecule fluorescence as well as combinations of these techniques. The data obtained are related to biochemical studies and used for theoretical modeling.

Biological Physics, Optical Tweezers, Single-molecule Fluorescent Microscopy, Physical Virology

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