A test that ‘weighs’ whether and how much corona you have, but can also recognize flu and perhaps even cancer. That’s what molecular biologist Maarten Dhaenens and PhD student Bart Van Puyvelde have been working on for the past year. “This way of testing offers so many possibilities for the future.”
As soon as the pandemic is over, the climate crisis will come back into focus. “We have to aim for zero CO2 emissions. Not ‘a bit less’, but zero”, says philosopher of science Maarten Boudry. And that requires a global debate, moving away from the oversimplified visions that currently dominate the debate.
Human rights should not only be seen as a legal issue. “They play a role in all disciplines”, says professor of human rights Eva Brems. With a multidisciplinary outlook on the theme, Ghent University is playing a pioneering role. And that is necessary, “because human rights are more than ever under pressure, also in Europe.”
What if we had one jab instead of two? Or what if we first vaccinated the active population, and only then those less mobile? Such questions cross everyone’s mind from time to time. At Ghent University, biostatisticians actually make models to see what these questions mean.
Will eel in green sauce soon be off the menu? It could well be, as the slippery fish is threatened with extinction. Reason enough for Ghent University researcher Pieterjan Verhelst to intervene. He’s looking for ways to save the eel: “The eel is part of our Flemish culture. We must not let that be lost.”
2020 was a big year for conspiracy thinking. Such as a new disease appearing out of nowhere, resulting in so many deaths? That has to be a conspiracy, according to many. The Internet has been flooded with all sorts of conspiracy theories in the past year. This leads us to the question: why do people believe in the most improbable stories and why do we find that a problem?
Since the beginning of the first lockdown, Ghent University has been gauging how and why we comply with the rules. Meanwhile, the motivation barometer has become a unique behavioral study with unprecedented social relevance. “We provide scientifically substantiated policy advice to support our motivation drivers,” says Professor Maarten Vansteenkiste, the driving force behind the study.
It is fair to say that Sir Tim Berners-Lee changed the world when he invented the World Wide Web 32 years ago. And his work is far from finished, because he wants a mid-course correction on the web. An absolute necessity, as he himself says, on which he is working together with Ruben Verborgh from Ghent University, among others.
For many years, bumblebee doctor Dave Goulson has been working to save the bumblebee from extinction. Pioneering work, which earned him an honorary doctorate from Ghent University and the praise of his promoter, Professor Guy Smagghe: “The interest in bees and bumblebees has grown internationally and that is partly thanks to him”.
More frequent environmental disasters due to global warming, plant and animal species that disappear, ecosystems that are disrupted. These are environmental problems, but increasingly they threaten human rights, such as the right to health or even the right to life. It raises the question: is the right to a healthy environment actually a human right?
Ghent University rector Rik Van de Walle still remembers so well just how impressed he was by La Reprise, the last theatre performance by Milo Rau before his official appointment as artistic director of NTGent in September 2018. "From that very moment I was certain that we should give Milo a honorary doctorate some day. Everyone I spoke to on the subject was keen on the idea, so things progressed far quicker than I had imagined."*