Uitreiking Studieprijzen

Study award winners announced

The Study Award is an annual prize for students who have written a thesis of exceptional quality. The theses are written in the previous academic year.

The Study Awards will be presented during the Opening Academic Year on 5 September 2022. The winners of the Study Awards and abstracts of the winning theses are:

Leah Ritterfeld (FFTR)

Conspiracy Theories: Unwarranted Absurdities, Propaganda, or a Specific Way of Holding a Belief?

"For my Master’s thesis, I was curious to investigate the phenomenon of Conspiracy Theories. More specifically, I wanted to know whether we can find criteria with which we may distinguish which conspiracy allegations are absurd, bogus beliefs and which ones are justified allegations of potentially real conspiracies. I suggest that it is helpful to make conceptual distinctions between conspiracy theories, conspiracy theorists, and conspiracy theorizing. It is in the latter, in the conspiracy theorizing, that we can pinpoint what is epistemologically problematic: conspiracy theorizing is self-insulating, which means that all possible counterevidence can be reinterpreted as evidence in favor of the theory. With this conceptual distinction and a focus on the practice of  theorizing, I believe we can better explain why it is so difficult to find common ground with conspiracy theorists and why counterarguments and facts don’t appear to be helpful when trying to convince them of the falseness of their belief."

Larissa Henrique dos Santos Lemos (FdL)

The Emotional Side of Roman Slavery

"Did Roman slavery have an emotional history? Many studies have been conducted on Roman slavery, and although some studies focus on emotions within Roman slavery, scholars have largely ignored the role emotions played in it. To fill this gap, The Emotional Side of Slavery focus on the emotions of upper-class slaveowners and how their emotions shaped their attitudes towards slaves from the 1st century BCE until the mid-3rd century CE."

Ezra Bekkering (FdMW)

Preclinical evaluation of Plasmodium falciparum transmission blocking antibodies and vaccine candidate antigens

"Malaria is a devastating disease, killing more than half a million people annually. The parasite that causes malaria is transmitted from one person to another via  mosquitoes. Transmission Blocking Vaccines (TBVs) and Transmission Blocking Antibodies (TBAs), attempt to obstruct the parasite development within the mosquito midgut, thereby preventing man-to-mosquito transmission and thus the further spread of the disease.

During the first part of my project, we focused on an antibody against a known TBV antigen, Pfs230. Although this antibody binds strongly to the parasite, it could not kill the parasite within the mosquito. We hypothesized that this protein would become active if we could switch the isotype, or the “tail”, of the antibody. We successfully adapted a CRISPR/Cas9-based approach to create a cell line that started producing this switched antibody, which is now being tested for transmission blocking efficiency.

In the second part, we were interested in a set of parasite proteins that were recently identified as promising candidates for new TBVs. Currently, almost nothing is known about these proteins. By genetic modification of malaria parasites, we tagged six of these proteins to study their location and function. We now think that one of these antigens is extremely promising for the development of a new TBV, since the presence of this protein was crucial for the development of functional male sexual parasites.

All in all, this work improved our understanding of the sexual development of the malaria parasite, but also helped in expanding our repertoire of anti-malarial transmission blocking antibodies and vaccines."

Luc van der Krabben (FNWI)

Lattice-Mismatched GaP for Light Trapping in Ultra-thin GaAs Solar cells

"The solar panels everyone has on their roof nowadays are all based on silicon, a semiconductor that in fact only poorly absorbs light. A much better absorber is the III-V semiconductor gallium arsenide (GaAs), which, unfortunately, is also much more expensive. One way to reduce the costs of these highly efficient GaAs solar cells is to make them much thinner, as thin as only 300 nanometers. Of course, a thinner solar cell also means that part of the light is not absorbed and lost, which results in a lower efficiency. But what if we are able to trap that light, that would otherwise be lost, in the solar cell until it is absorbed? For that purpose I developed a rough mirror that can be deposited directly on the back of the solar cell to scatter the light that is not absorbed back into the solar cell. The mirror is based on gallium phosphide (GaP), another III-V semiconductor but with a slight mismatch in crystal lattice with GaAs. This results in all kinds of surface textures which make GaP ideal for the scattering of light. With this research, I hope to make these highly efficient solar cells more accessible to the general public."

Maarten Remmink (FdR)

De behandeling van faillissementsverzoeken in tijden van buitengewone omstandigheden

"Right from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dutch judges took account of the exceptional circumstances caused by the pandemic when handling bankruptcy petitions. Several months into the pandemic a temporary emergency law entered into force: The temporary provision for payment deferral COVID-19. In the First World War, the Second World War and during the flood disaster of 1953, similar emergency bankruptcy legislation was introduced. In this thesis, these four emergency laws are compared and analyzed. They appear to have a common core: 'The court does not open bankruptcy proceedings if, due to exceptional circumstances, the debtor has been placed in a situation of temporary inability to pay and the interests of the requesting creditor are not disproportionately affected by not opening bankruptcy proceedings.' This thesis explains several elements of this core and examines the question whether judges can apply this core within the existing legal framework in a future period of exceptional circumstances . The conclusion is that this can be done in different ways and, in the interests of legal certainty and legal unity, is also desirable."

Ilja Geelen (FSW)

Forest Feeling. Exploring the more-than-human sociality between mountain bikers and the forest through kinaesthetic and sonic ethnography

"This ethnography explores the notion of ‘nature experience’ in relation to amateur mountain bikers in Rijk van Nijmegen. It focuses on the way mountain bikers’ lived experiences (do not) fit into the normative ideas of ‘nature experience’, which are used to legitimise outdoor recreation in the overcrowded public forest. The forest is conceptualised as a more-than-human social actor in order to look beyond the nature/culture dualism. Through this lens of more-than-human sociality in combination with a placemaking perspective, mountain bikers’ experiences of and attachments to the forest are studied in an open way, unlimited by classifications of ‘nature-intendedness’. Attention specifically goes out to affective experiences of mountain bikers there where their body meets the forest, in pre-conscious, multisensory and kinaesthetic ways. This study rests upon a mix of participatory observation, stakeholder interviews and sound-based methodologies. Its methodological emphasis lies on accessing more-than-representational affective experiences. Ride-alongs with over twenty mountain bikers form the basis for thorough embodiment-centred, multisensory reflections by the author. These are combined with insights from sound rides (as derived from soundwalks) and the dialogical editing of soundscape recordings with a handful of participants. This research concludes that there are affective, more- than representational sides to mountain biking that are mis- or unrepresented in the ‘nature experience’-framework. A more encompassing framework is needed to do justice to a variety of recreationists’ affective attachments to the forest, both in academia and in public debate."

Cherelle de Leeuw (FdM)

The Hold Digital Platforms Have On Us. On freedom of expression & the libertarian case for state intervention.

"The rise in popularity of digital platforms like Google and Facebook has affected the way people communicate and access information, the two building blocks of freedom of expression. This thesis explores the ways in which freedom of expression works and shows the value of free speech for individuals and societies. Several arguments illustrate why and how digital platforms affect a number of these functions, among others through data tracking, algorithms and bypassing consent. The affected functions of free speech that are analyzed are autonomy, self-ownership and rights, truth and knowledge, and the republican ideal.

Using Robert Nozick’s deontological libertarian framework, this thesis makes an unlikely argument in favor of state intervention in the working of digital platforms, as they violate the moral side constraints and entitlement theory of justice that are central to a Nozickian approach. To analyze how a deontological libertarian framework would function empirically, the 2020 EU and 2021 U.S. proposals for state intervention are analyzed, focusing on non-violation of autonomy."

Attending the ceremony

The ceremony takes place on Monday 5 September in concert building De Vereeniging. The ceremony will start at 14.00 and last until approximately 15.30.

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