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Normal 491686d76be81f21d50bcd10009b4e9ad4f6046b Salt marshes: crucial for coastal protection and birds The salt marshes of the Wadden Sea - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - are among the last pristine ecosystems in North West Europe. Not only they are indispensable food grounds for millions of birds, but they also play an important role in coastal protection. Microbial ecologist Joana Falcão Salles, together with her research group and other UG ecologists (Chris Smit en Matty Berg), want to find out what the impact of climate change is on this sensitive area. Lying on the border of land and sea, the salt marshes are extra sensitive to higher sea levels and longer periods of drought. Joana investigates the interaction between three "protagonists" in the area: the plant Sea Couch, the shrimp-like Orchestia gamarella and the microbes in the soil, the shrimps and the plants. "The three have been studied separately, but we are increasingly finding that the interaction between them is important." says Joana.   Prof.dr. Joana Falcao Salles "please give for more insight into the impact of climate change on salt marshes"   Recovery strategiesAt the moment, there is a kind of optimum balance in the Wadden Sea. The plant does not want it to be too wet, the lobster not too dry. And thanks to the plant, the accretion and erosion of the salt marshes remain balanced and the ecosystem stays intact. But what if it gets wetter or drier? Joana: "The plants and lobsters will have to adapt to the new circumstances. We hypothesize that the microbes play a major role in this. We have known for a number of years that they can determine the evolution and adaption of their host. For example, it appears that in certain bird species the immune system can change within one generation. This is possible because it is not the host but the microbes that genetically adapt."To investigate the influence of climate change, Joana wants to build a number of test situations in the laboratory. "In the test situations we look at how the plants react in varying combinations, i.e. with and without lobsters or microbes, to changing circumstances, such as prolonged drought or flooding." Joana: "With that knowledge, for example, recovery strategies can be developed for affected salt marshes. The needsHowever, because it involves an enormous number of organisms, an enormous number of DNA samples must be examined. We hope that with the support of alumni and others who feel involved with the Wadden area, we can raise the necessary 24,000 euros.”   Would you please help us? We welcome any donation!   Joana Falcao Salles Faculty of Science and EngineeringGELIFES — Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences         € 0 Raised € 25.000 Target 0% Reached
Normal 8fff9e7016b5be5b3f11c13d498b906976ef5694 Monitoring Inequality in Education Investments in education and skills are of crucial importance in today's rapidly changing global economy. While some people in some parts of the world are keeping up with such investments, other people in other parts of the world are not. This creates inequality in education which gives rises to big gaps in income and wealth as well as social exclusion. To allow for better monitoring of these inequalities both across and within countries, dr. Mariko Klasing and dr. Petros Milionis want to construct a global database on education inequality. Financial support, however, is necessary to make this happen.   Every year about 5% of the world’s GDP is invested by governments in education and training. The benefits from these investments are not shared uniformly, though. Women and minorities tend to receive less education, which limits their ability to compete for good jobs in the labor market. Highly skilled workers also tend to concentrate in economically more advanced areas, leaving smaller cities and rural areas with a less educated workforce. Tracking these gaps in educational investments across population groups and regions is very important in order to promote successful development strategies. While international organizations provide some data on these gaps, the data are mostly at the country level. As a consequence of that, it is currently not easy to compare education inequalities that are present within countries and across population groups. Mariko Klasing: 'In order to understand how educational inequality arises and how it can be combated, we first need to know the facts. This requires data that are not available at the moment.'     The goal of the project is to put together an extensive database on educational statistics for different population groups covering as many regions and countries of the world as possible. The database should also go back several decades in order to track the changes that have occurred over time. To assemble this database, Mariko and Petros will need help from research assistants who will collect education data from censuses conducted in different countries and organize them so that they are comparable across countries and easy to use. This is expected to cost €40.000.    Petros Milionis: 'Once the project is completed we will be making the database publically available via the website of the University of Groningen to anybody who would like to use the data for policy purposes or to conduct further research on the topic.' With your help, Mariko and Petros can complete this project, raise aware on the importance of educational inequalities and provide insights about how to promote equal access to education. Please help them achieve their goal and donate! Any amount is welcome! € 50 Raised € 40.500 Target 0% Reached
Normal ffd27cc47d3f8d45b796049df22c63cea4532439 Understanding the flu Goal: increase the effectiveness of flu vaccines to fight the number of flu deaths. Researcher Federica Sicca The flu causes thousands of deaths every year Every year about five to ten per cent of the population gets influenza, the "real" flu. Unlike most "normal" colds, it is a serious infectious disease which is highly contagious. In the Netherlands, influenza is responsible for the deaths of  about 1,500 people annually, and between 290.000 and 650.000 worldwide, depending on the severity of the flu wave. Flu vaccination helps prevent infection, but current vaccines have only an effectiveness of 50 to 60 per cent. Researcher Federica Sicca aims to improve this statistic with her research on immunity development in different age groups. We need customized flu vaccinations "Every person builds their own flu history,” explains Federica. "That history influences the effect of a vaccine. Most people have had the flu at least once in their lives and as a result have developed antibodies specific for a particular virus strain. With each subsequent influenza infection, these and new antibodies play a role in how the immune system reacts. It is a very complex mechanism, which we do not yet fully understand, also because flu viruses are constantly mutating. Sometimes, for example, your immune system is mistaken, it does not recognize that a virus strain is new and not a variant of an old strain and it produces "old" antibodies. This reaction of the immune system actually has a negative effect." In addition, the response varies per age group. In children, the immune system is hardly experienced and therefore very receptive; in the elderly, it is often worn out and may respond much less to new virus variants. "If that's the case, you have to take age into account in the composition of the flu vaccination," says Federica. How Federica will tackle the issue Federica’s research focuses on individuals from three different age groups over an extended period of time. For this, she wants to use LifeLines, the unique biobank with health data and samples from more than 167,000 people in the north of the Netherlands. "You have access not only to blood samples from the same individuals over a long period, but also a great deal of extra information based on questionnaires they have filled in, in which they indicate, for example, whether they have had the flu in a certain period or whether they received any vaccination. The use and analysis of the data from LifeLines costs around € 36,000. Federica can pay part of this from her research group's budget but unfortunately not everything. That is why she seeks support through the Ubbo Emmius Fund of the University of Groningen / the Groningen University Funds. 'We expect to gain insight into the number of antibodies in children, adults and the elderly, how this number changes over the years in an individual, whether antibodies respond to one or more virus strains, and to what extent the first strain with which someone comes into contact determines later immune responses upon re-encountering with the virus. This  knowledge is essential for the further optimization of flu vaccinations. " With your help, Federica can research how to increase the effectiveness of flu vaccines. Please help us and donate! Any amount is welcome! € 15 Raised € 36.000 Target 0% Reached
Normal 25a0fd96c18599f5e7a131db04a08cd3e34b17d6 No waste: Improving our Appliance Recycling System Researcher Stuart Zhu wants to reduce the amount of waste in the world by increasling the reuse old products 2 billion tons of waste every year Every year we throw away about 2 billion tons of waste worldwide. That is a huge destruction of raw materials and has a big impact on the environment. A circular economy, in which raw materials and products are reused as much as possible, would be a solution. Remanufacturing is one of the major pillars of a circular economy. Remanufacturing is a process, in which used products are disassembled and its parts – if necessary repaired - form the basis for new products. Examples are refillable cartridges or the fair phone consisting entirely of replaceable modules. Unfortunately, remanufacturing is not getting off the ground in many companies. Causes for that lie with both producers and consumers. The Groningen researcher Stuart Zhu wants to find answers to questions like “how can we make more companies start remanufacturing?” and “how can we get consumers return their discarded products to the manufacturer?” He hopes alumni will support his research. "Remanufacturing can generate some complex problems," explains Stuart. "You have the so-called ‘last mile’ -  that is how a product ultimately reaches the consumer. A lot of research has been done on this. In fact, that ‘last mile’ is the ‘first mile’ of the return channel. But little is known about that ‘first mile.’ There are several options: return to the store, send to the producer, or pick up from home. What is more efficient and what do consumers prefer? The latter appears to be popular in China but not in Europe and we don't know why," says Stuart Financially and legally, there are all sorts of hooks on remanufacturing. "The larger, established companies in particular are afraid that they will lose sales and market share. If they make their products in such a way that you can replace parts, then competitors can also copy those parts more easily. Moreover, the producers cannibalize their own market if they offer both new and recycled products. Companies realize that they need to be better equipped to make the right decisions about remanufacturing and that they need the support of legislations," explains Stuart. How Stuart will tackle the problem That is why Stuart wants to do research at a number of companies in Europe and China. He wants to examine the different processes, from design and production of a product to the consumer, and back again. In this way, Stuart hopes to be able to formulate optimal strategies, with attention to differences per market and region, for both companies and governments. "Companies will have to switch to more reuse. The government forces them to, both in Europe and China. Moreover, it is the best strategy in the long term. Producers and governments can make the right choices with the right tools. I hope to be able to give them one of those instruments," says Stuart. Stuart Zhu is affiliated with the Faculty of Economics and Business of the UG and conducts research on Sustainable Supply Chain Management, Production Planning,Inventory Control and Marketing-Operations Interface. Help Stuart do his research and donate! € 0 Raised € 20.000 Target 0% Reached