Roshan Cools, Dorothea Hilhorst, and Hilde de Weerdt each secure funding from the NWO Open Competition

20.5.2021 | The money will be used to research the possible cognition-enhancing effects of dopamine pills, transactional sex during humanitarian crises, and the development of Chinese infrastructure.
Bild vergrößern
(© unsplash / Evgeny Nelmin)

Three AcademiaNet members have had their respective research proposals approved by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) as part of the 2020 Open Competition Social Sciences and Humanities funding round: Prof Roshan Cools, Prof Dorothea Hilhorst, and Prof Hilde de Weerdt.

Prof Cools, professor of cognitive neuropsychiatry at Radboud University Nijmegen, will be investigating the role of dopamine in the brain from the perspective of cognitive enhancing smart drugs. Specifically, she will use new, high-resolution MRI scans to see how communication between certain areas in the brain might change when subjects are fed dopamine pills–and whether this could enhance cognition and behaviour.

Professor of humanitarian studies at Eramus University in the Hague, Prof Hilhorst, will explore transactional sex in situations of humanitarian crises, specifically why and how people engage in it and what its consequences are. She aims to approach this topic in a way that will also counteract existing biases in humanitarian services so that protection policies for vulnerable people can be improved. The project will focus on conflict-affected areas in Pakistan, Colombia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Finally Prof de Weerdt, who is a professor of Chinese history at the University of Leiden, will look to digitally map pre-industrial infrastructure in Southeastern China, including roads, bridges, and city walls. The aim is to explain regional differences in the infrastructure development and the role this infrastructure might have played politically, economically and security-wise. She also secured an ERC Advanced Grant for related work in April this year.

The Open Competition received pre-proposals from 199 researchers and 34 were finally approved. A total of 22 million euros have been awarded.   (© AcademiaNet)

More information


  1. Read what our members say about AcademiaNet.

Follow us


  1. Michaela Raggam-Blesch awarded the Leon Zelman Prize in Vienna

    The historian is honoured for her work documenting and remembering the Holocaust and ‘giving victims a voice’

  2. Four AcademiaNet members secure funding from the Swedish Brain Foundation

    Their projects cover Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, depression and neonatal brain development

  3. Ursula Keller has won the Swiss Science Prize Marcel Benoist, known as the ‘Swiss Nobel Prize’

    The physicist is honoured for her work on ultrafast lasers, including systems now used in manufacturing, communications technology and surgery

  4. Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser receives Croonian Medal and Lecture from the Royal Society

    She was chosen for her ground-breaking work on plant hormones and her dedication to gender equality in science

  5. Agneta Nordberg receives Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alzheimer’s Association

    The neuroscientist is known for her ground-breaking work on amyloid PET imaging and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine

Academia Net