KU Leuven

Can we be multilingual in our own mother tongue?

There is only one stable grammar, which applies in all situations of language use, right? Not really, says linguist Alexandra Engel (KU Leuven). Her research shows that, depending on the formality of the situation, we use different variants of grammar - for example, you talk differently to your friend than to your boss. In a sense, we are multilingual in our own mother tongue.
KU Leuven

The big impact of tiny critters in our food

You have no doubt come across it when opening your fridge: a packet of cheese full of mould or a pot of sauce with a suspiciously bulging lid. The culprits? Bacteria, yeasts and moulds. Food producers try to prevent this type of spoilage as much as possible, by ensuring that a product contains as few micro-organisms as possible when it leaves the factory. Bio-engineer Thijs Vackier is working on new cleaning agents that can better break down biofilms, protective mantles around micro-organisms, in food processing equipment.
KU Leuven

Gamma Cassiopeia, the stellar ballerina

Did you know that one of the brightest stars in the night sky is still a mystery to astronomers? Gamma Cassiopeia, the central star of the Cassiopeia constellation (the 'W' you can see at night), is rapidly spinning around its axis, much like a ballerina, causing it to break itself apart. And it's not the only one. Julia Bodensteiner wants to shed light on these spinning, or should we say 'dancing' stars.

3D printing and accelerators to improve chemical production

Real almonds are expensive. That's why products such as marzipan are sometimes made with synthetic almond flavour. For this, two elements are important: a reactor in which to make these synthetic almond molecules and a catalyst to speed up the chemical reaction. Chemical engineer & marzipan lover Clement Jacquot tells you more about his clever idea to produce more of this synthetic almond flavour, in a much faster way!
de Lenne
KU Leuven

How effective are realistic models in advertising?

Slim top models and muscled hunks are increasingly making way for realistic models in advertising campaigns. A good evolution, although it is not clear whether these campaigns actually result in a more positive body image. Orpha de Lenne studies realistic advertisements to find out how they can really make us feel better about our body. 

LED lights: The lighthouses of the future?

GPS is a wonderful technology. Unfortunately, it is of no use in large buildings, such as hospitals and airports, because concrete blocks GPS signals. But Robin Amsters (KU Leuven - FWO) is working on a solution. He explains how lightning-fast flickering LED lights will guide us and our robots indoors in the future.
Van Dyck
KU Leuven

A conspiracy between two microbes

Together you are always stronger. Unfortunately, this also applies to some microbes, which can conspire to make us seriously ill. Microbiologist Katrien Van Dyck is investigating such a conspiracy between a fungus and a microbe that work together to cause a serious infection. By studying the interaction between the two, she hopes to find out how we can break their alliance.
KU Leuven

Chronic swallowing problems after head and neck cancer

Thanks to new radiotherapy techniques, more and more patients with head and neck cancer are surviving. But for 70% of them, this radiation causes chronic swallowing problems, making it difficult to eat and drink. Hanne Massonet hopes to help them enjoy food and drink again by training their tongue, mouth, and throat muscles.
KU Leuven

Oxytocin: more than just the cuddle hormone

Do you ever stress about presentations? Imagine if you felt that stress all the time. Well, that is the case with some individuals, such as children with autism. They find social interactions to be frightening and sometimes even threatening. Can a nasal spray with oxytocin relieve them of that stress? That is what Nicky Daniels is investigating at KU Leuven.
De Munck
KU Leuven

Why did nurses not receive proper pay for a long time?

In 2020, we applauded en masse for our healthcare heroes. But did you know that for a very long time, nurses in Belgium hardly got paid or did not get paid at all? And that they hardly received any recognition? Historian Luc De Munck explains why that was the case.
KU Leuven

How to solve swallowing problems?

After a stroke, many people suffer from swallowing problems (dysphagia), due to damage to brain areas responsible for controlling and coordinating the swallowing process. Can electrical stimulation help them restore the brain control of swallowing, to eat and drink comfortably again? That's what Marthe Everaert is looking into in her PhD.
KU Leuven

Is the cure for cancer stuck in a jar?

Have you ever tried to get the last cookie from the bottom of the jar but couldn't quite reach it? Now, what if that cookie can potentially help cure cancer? Wiktoria Wojtaczka (KU Leuven) is investigating terbium, a chemical element that can be turned into a drug for cancer. But the problem she faces in her research is pretty similar to that of the cookie stuck in the jar