Rubicon grant for Casimir PhD Ludwig Hoffmann: why do leaves of a tree always grow in the same shape?


PhD candidate Ludwig Hoffmann (Leiden University) will spend two years at Harvard University in the US thanks to a Rubicon grant he won on April 11. Using theoretical models he studies biological tissues, for example during morphogenesis. This is the process that causes tissue or organisms to develop their shape. ‘This grant allows me to work in one of the leading groups on soft matter research.’

Every chestnut leaf has the same typical shape. It will never look like that of an oak tree. Most people take this for granted, but not Hoffmann. He aims to figure out how this is actually possible. ‘Leaves of a certain plant or wings of a certain species of insects always grow into the same shape. But between species, there is a lot of diversity. At Harvard, I will develop a theoretical model to learn the general rules that govern the growth of leaves and wings.’

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Rubicon grants
Research experience abroad is usually a vital aspect of building a career in academia.  Rubicon allows talented scientists and academicians who recently obtained their PhD in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to gain experience at a foreign knowledge institute for a period of 1-2 years. This increases the chance that they can continue working in academia.

Rubicon runs for an indeterminate time. Each year, Rubicon has three funding rounds with deadlines around 1 April, 1 September and 1 December. The remaining deadlines in 2023 are: August 29 and November 28. Once the call is open, a link appears at the bottom of this NWO/Rubicon page. In 2023, the budget for each round is approximately 2.47 million euros.


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