13/10/2014: New GRAPPA Members

New post-docs and graduate students recently joined the GRAPPA institute which now includes 7 faculty members, 13 post-docs, 11 graduate students, with few more to come, and several associated faculty members from API, Nikhef and the Institute of Physics.

Check out our full list of members.

26/09/2014: Gianfranco Bertone appointed GRAPPA Spokesperson

Gianfranco Bertone has been appointed ‘GRAPPA Spokesperson’ by the GRAPPA Faculty council. He will be responsible for the coordination of a number of GRAPPA activities, including national and international collaborative research projects, grant submissions and hiring, as well as for institutional representation, and fund raising. 

The educational aspects of the GRAPPA MSc track will continue to be coordinated by Patrick Decowski.

29/07/2014: Veni grant for Fabio Zandanel

Congratulations to Fabio Zandanel, who has been awarded a NWO Veni grant for the project “Monsters Unveiled: Cosmic Rays and Dark Matter in Clusters of Galaxies”. In his own words:

“The Universe evolved from tiny fluctuations in an almost uniform density field. As matter surrounding these small over-densities collapsed due to gravitational force, the first stars formed. The latest and largest gravitationally bound structures to form are clusters of galaxies. The main goal of this project is to obtain a coherent picture of structure formation in clusters. These contain substantial amounts of cosmic rays (CRs) as well as dark matter (DM), a yet to be identified form of matter that dominates the Universe. My aim is to discover the connection between the CR population and acceleration processes generating diffuse synchrotron radio emission, called radio halos, and structure formation processes. Structure formation itself is mainly driven by the DM gravitational effect, thus DM identification, one of the most important goals of modern physics, is also crucial for the understanding of the evolutionary process.”

25/07/2014: NWO Astroparticle Physics grants for Berge and Markoff

NWO Physical Sciences (EW) has awarded 1.5 million euros to various projects at the interface of astronomy and physics, where scientists will investigate high-energy objects, such as neutron stars and black holes. The GRAPPA members, David Berge and Sera Markoff, are among the awardees.


David Berge is PI of a project that contributes to the development of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA). His project will be carried out in close collaboration with the University of Groningen and Radboud University (Nijmegen).





Sera Markoff is PI of a research project to determine the contribution of X-ray binaries to the Galactic cosmic ray population, and their TeV emission properties. This work will be done in collaboration with researchers at the Radboud University (Nijmegen).


01/07/2014: Astroparticle Physics 2014

The GRAPPA center of excellence has hosted last week “Astroparticle Physics: a joint TeVPA/IDM conference”. The event brought together two major international conference series in Astroparticle Physics: TeV Particle Astrophysics and Identification of Dark Matter.

The conference was opened by rector Dymph van den Boom, and saw the participation of more than 320 participants. The programme started with a conference overview presented by the chair of the organizing committee Gianfranco Bertone, and ended with a summary talk by Fermilab scientist Dan Hooper. In between, there were about 35 plenary talks, and 240 contributed talks in the parallel sessions.

This 6-day conference has provided the stage for the most recent advances in Astroparticle Physics, and more specifically on: Cosmic Rays; Dark Matter in Cosmology; Direct Dark Matter Searches; Indirect Dark Matter Searches; High Energy Particle Physics; Neutrinos; and High Energy Astrophysics.

Among the highlight if the conference: the presentation of new data from the AMS-02, HESS II and LOFAR experiments, and updates from all the major experiments in the field. A large number of presentations and a round table were dedicated to the discussion of the Fermi GeV excess from the Galactic center, and to its interpretation in terms of Dark Matter and Astrophysical sources.

Beside traditional IDM/TeVPA topics, the programme of ‘Astroparticle Physics’ also included plenary talks on Neutrino Properties and Gravitational Waves, and two special talks by Oscar Klein Center’s director Lars Bergstrom and CERN’s Director General Rolf Heuer, on the future of ‘Astroparticle Physics’ and ‘Particle Physics’ respectively.

We would like to thank the members of the conference’s SOC and LOC, the plenary speakers, the conveners of the parallel sessions, and all the participants, for making this event a success.

Group photo at the Tuchinski Theater [courtesy of Joakim Edsjo]. In the first row, starting from left: Douglas Finkbeiner, Rolf Heuer, Stan Bentvelsen, Patrick Decowski, Christophe Grojean, Gianfranco Bertone, Roberto Ruiz de Austri, Lars Bergstrom, David Berge, Natalie Wells and Anne-Marieke Crommentuijn.

29/06/2014: PhD Position Opening

One PhD position is available, starting from 1st October 2014 or later, in context of Christoph Weniger’s NWO Vidi grant “Probing the Genesis of Dark Matter”. The position will be hosted by GRAPPA at the University of Amsterdam and is for four years.

Check out our Jobs page for details.

04/06/2014: History & Future of Dark Matter, Amsterdam, 22 June 2014

An extraordinary discovered has recently revolutionized Particle Physics and Cosmology. The understanding of the Universe had proceeded rather linearly from the beginning of the 20th century, when Hubble had discovered the expansion of the Universe. But when, in the 1970s, scientists tried to put together the many pieces of the cosmic puzzle to come up with a consistent cosmological model, these pieces just didn’t seem to fit. To complete the puzzle, the existence of a new form of matter, dark matter, had to be postulated. [Text adapted from the book "Behind the Scenes of the Universe", by G. Bertone]

Eight world-leading scientists who pioneered the discovery of dark matter and its detection strategies will discuss the history and future of dark matter studies. The event will consist of two series of 3 presentations, each followed by a round table discussion with experts in Cosmology and in the History of Science.

The symposium is open to scientific communities and the public alike. It will take place in the 17th century Koepelkerk in downtown Amsterdam on 22 June 2014 and attendance is by registration only (tickets cost €15,00).

21/05/2014: Vidi grant for Christoph Weniger

Congratulations to Christoph Weniger, who has been awarded a NWO Vidi grant on “Shedding light on dark matter”. In his own words:

“One of the most exciting open questions in fundamental physics and cosmology is the particle nature of dark matter (DM). DM makes up about 85% of the matter content in the Universe, but only its gravitational effects on the motion of celestial objects could be observed up to now. Theoretical models point towards scenarios where DM particles can self-annihilate. Self-annihilation in the early Universe would play a major role in reducing the enormous primordial DM density to the observed amount. Today, faint remnants of this self-annihilation could produce high-energy photons and charged particles at rates tantalizingly close to the sensitivity of current astronomical observations.

The goal of this project is to bring clear evidence for the existence of signals from DM annihilation, or otherwise provide the most stringent upper limits on the annihilation rates. To this end, I will perform a multi-messenger search for DM signals with radio, gamma- and cosmic-ray data. I will combine my findings with complementary results from collider and direct searches, and investigate the impact on the most relevant models for particle DM. The outcome of this project will be a comprehensive combined analysis of gamma-ray, anti-matter and radio data, and strongly advance our understanding of DM and the history of the Universe.”

22/01/2014: Astroparticle Physics, Amsterdam, 23-28 June 2014

We are delighted to announce “Astroparticle Physics – A Joint TeVPA/IDM Conference“, a special event that will take place in Amsterdam during 23 – 28 June 2014.  This event brings together two major international conference series in Astroparticle Physics; Identification of Dark Matter (IDM) and TeV Particle Astrophysics (TeVPA).

We aim to provide a stage for the most recent advances in the booming field of Astroparticle Physics, bringing to Amsterdam – a city that has recently invested a lot into this research area through initiatives like GRAPPA and the D-ITP – leading members of the scientific communities that are contributing to its success. A list of confirmed plenary speakers and conveners of the parallel sessions can be found on the conference website.

We invite contributions in the following research areas: Cosmic Rays; Dark Matter in Cosmology; Direct Dark Matter Searches; Indirect Dark Matter Searches; High Energy Particle Physics; Neutrinos and High Energy Astrophysics. Registration and abstract submission will open on 1 February 2014.

The conference will be held at the Tuschinski Theatre, an extraordinary landmark located in the heart of Amsterdam, which was built in 1921 in a spectacular mix of Amsterdam School, Jugendstil, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. The main auditorium, which hosts many Dutch film premieres, is considered one of the most beautiful cinemas in the world.   A special social event is planned at Het Scheepvaartmuseum. It will include a guided visit to the exhibition halls and a sumptuous dinner under the recently installed Atrium.

The conference is partially supported by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). To secure IUPAP sponsorship, the organisers have provided assurance that “Astroparticle Physics” will be conducted in accordance with IUPAP principles as stated in the IUPAP resolution passed by the General Assembly in 2008. In particular, no bona fide scientist will be excluded from participation on the grounds of national origin, nationality, or political considerations unrelated to science.

The Organizing Committee
S. Ando (GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam)
S. Bentvelsen (NIKHEF & GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam)
D. Berge (GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam)
G. Bertone (GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam) – Chair
P. de Jong (NIKHEF)
P. Decowski (NIKHEF & GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam)
S. Markoff (GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam)
K. Petraki (NIKHEF & GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam)
M. Postma (NIKHEF & GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam)
J. Vink (GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam)
C. Weniger (GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam)
F. Zandanel (GRAPPA, U. of Amsterdam)

08/11/2013: Rector van den Boom met “Behind the Scenes of the Universe”

Pioneering astronomers in the 1920s and 1930s noticed suspicious anomalies in the motion of celestial bodies in distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies. However, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that the scientific community was confronted with an astonishing conclusion: the Universe is filled with an unknown, elusive substance that is fundamentally different from anything we have ever seen. It is called dark matter, and it constitutes one of the most pressing challenges of modern science.

Gianfranco Bertone, member of the GRAPPA institute and faculty at the University of Amsterdam, is a world-leading expert on this subject. He recently wrote a book, aimed at the general reader with an interest in science, illustrating the implications of this discovery. In fact, nowadays, there is a worldwide race to identify the nature of this mysterious form of matter. We may be just about to witness a pivotal paradigm shift in Physics, as we set out to test the existence of dark matter particles.

Prof. Bertone’s book, Behind the Scenes of the Universe: From the Higgs to Dark Matter, has been published past October 10th by Oxford University Press. The University of Amsterdam organized an event to launch the book publication past November 5th at SPUI 25 during which a copy has been presented to the university Rector Prof. Dymph van den Boom by Prof. Bertone

25/10/2013: “Behind the Scenes of the Universe” Launch on 5th November 2013

The discovery of dark matter has led to a worldwide race to identify the nature of this mysterious form of matter. In his popular science book “Behind the Scenes of the Universe. From Higgs to Dark Matter”, which appeared on Thursday 10 October with Oxford University Press, UvA physicist dr. Gianfranco Bertone gives an introduction to the problem of dark matter in the Universe, as well as an actual overview of this extensive research topic.

The book will be presented on Tuesday 5th November, starting from 17:00, at SPUI 25, with the following program:

  • Coffee/Tea
  • Opening and introduction to the subject by Prof. Stan Bentvelsen
  • Introduction to the book by the author, Dr. Gianfranco Bertone
  • Presentation of a book copy to the UvA Rector Magnificus, Prof. Dymph van den Boom
  • Q&A moderated by Volkskrant science journalist Martijn van Calmthout
  • Reception

See here for details.

08/10/2013: Postdoctoral and PhD positions open

The calls for the GRAPPA Postdoctoral Fellow, plus other two Research Associate positions, are now open.

The call for the GRAPPA PhD Fellow is also open.

Deadline for application is December 1, 2013 (see Jobs).

18/09/2013: “Behind the Scenes of the Universe” out on 10th October 2013

Behind the Scenes of the Universe: From the Higgs to Dark Matter of Gianfranco Bertone will be published on 10th October 2013

An extraordinary discovery has recently shaken the foundations of Cosmology and Particle Physics, sparking a scientific revolution that has profoundly modified our understanding of our Universe and that is still far from over. Pioneering astronomers in the 1920s and 1930s had already noticed suspicious anomalies in the motion of celestial bodies in distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies, but it wasn’t until the late 20th century that the scientific community was confronted with an astonishing conclusion: the Universe is filled with an unknown, elusive substance that is fundamentally different from anything we have ever seen with our telescopes or measured in our laboratories. It is called dark matter, and it constitutes one of the most pressing challenges of modern science.

In this book, aimed at the general reader with an interest in science, Gianfranco Bertone, member of the GRAPPA institute, illustrates the far-reaching implications of this discovery. It has led to a worldwide race to identify the nature of this mysterious form of matter. We may be about to witness a pivotal paradigm shift in Physics, as we set out to test the existence of dark matter particles with a wide array of experiments, including the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, as well as with a new generation of Astroparticle experiments underground and in space.

27/06/2013: GRAPPA master project colloquium

On Wednesday 3rd of July 2013 (16:00 in room C1.112), Margot Brouwer presents her master thesis project, one of the first within the GRAPPA master track.

Title: Dark matter indirect searches with dwarf spheroidals: Prospects for GAMMA-400

Abstract: The question of the nature of Dark Matter (DM) is one of the most imminent problems in modern (astro-)physics. Indirect detection, measuring DM annihilation products from space, is a method of constraining the self-annihilation cross section of DM particles. An attractive candidate for this method is the Draco dwarf spheroidal, one of the most DM dominated dwarfs in our galactic neighbourhood. In this project we study DM cross section upper limits using Fermi-LAT data from the Draco dwarf spheroidal, and examine how these depend on the size of the used spatial model. Furthermore, we make predictions on the improvement of these upper limits from gamma-ray telescopes with higher resolutions, specifically the next generation GAMMA-400 space telescope which is planned to be launched in 2018.

13/06/2013: GRAPPA is growing

The GRAPPA institute is rapidly growing. Two new postdocs, David Salek (GRAPPA Fellow) and Fabio Zandanel, and three new graduate students (Fotis Dimitrakopoulos, Gabriele Sabato and Michael Wiechers) recently joined.

In fall 2013, six more postdocs and five more graduate students will join us.

Check out our full list of members.

27/11/2012: FOM grants 2.0M€ to GRAPPA researchers

A “Vrije Programma” grant of 2.0M€ from funding agency Stichting FOM will allow several UvA faculty members at the Institute of Physics, all associated to the UvA research priority area GRAPPA, to carry out a research program to investigate the nature of Dark Matter over the next six years.

Astronomical observations consistently point to a picture where only about 15% of the remaining 85% of matter in the Universe, so-called Dark Matter, is not directly observable but can be deduced from indirect, gravitational evidence. The nature of Dark Matter is unknown; it has to be some new subatomic particle. This fits the expectation from subatomic physics where extensions of the Standard Model of particle physics suggest that new particles must exist: some of these hypothetical particles are perfect Dark Matter candidates.

The funded research program will allow an experimental and theoretical investigation with the goal to identify the particle responsible for Dark Matter. The granted FOM program will allow the researchers to participate in experiments aimed at so-called direct detection of Dark Matter. Program leader dr. Patrick Decowski (UvA/Nikhef): “A worldwide hunt is taking place for Dark Matter particles. All these scientists would love to be the first to spot them. The Nikhef institute for subatomic physics is a partner in the XENON100 experiment that is presently running the most sensitive Dark Matter experiment to date. We are also building its successor, XENON1T, scheduled to start collecting Dark Matter data in 2015. XENON1T will be a hundred times more sensitive than XENON100.

At the same time, we will be pursuing a vigorous program to work on outstanding theoretical questions and astrophysical uncertainties that directly impact the analysis of dark matter data. Finally, we aim to combine all the available Dark Matter information to extract as much information about the Dark Matter particle as possible. The experimental and theoretical projects included in the FOM program will push the Netherlands to the forefront of Dark Matter research worldwide.”

The program is a collaboration between scientists within the GRAPPA research priority area of the UvA (Decowski, Ando, Bertone) and Nikhef (Van Bakel, Colijn, Linde and Postma).

19/11/2012: 18 million euros grant for the Delta Institute for Theoretical Physics

Physics research at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) has received an enormous boost with the award of a new grant worth 18.3 million euros from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO ) as part of its ‘Gravitation Programme’. The money will be used for research into different forms of matter.

The research will be headed by Erik Verlinde, professor of Theoretical Physics at the UvA, in close cooperation with fellow UvA professor of Theoretical Physics Jan de Boer, and is a collaboration between scientists from the UvA, Leiden University and Utrecht University. The research will be conducted within the newly formed Delta Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP-D).

The main focus will be on big questions about matter at length scales ranging from atoms and molecules to stars and galaxies. These challenging theoretical questions relate to forms of matter, yet to be understood, which have been observed in both laboratories and in the universe. Examples of unanswered questions to be addressed include:

  •  the origin of the invisible ‘dark matter’;
  • an explanation for superconductivity at high temperature;
  • the development of building blocks for a quantum computer.

‘My co-applicants and I are extremely pleased with this NWO grant for theoretical physics,’ stated Verlinde. ‘Thanks to this grant, we can dedicate ourselves to tackling these unanswered questions about the origin and properties of matter. At the same time, we will create a vibrant research environment for young researchers which will occupy a prominent place internationally.

The UvA is also involved in two other research projects that have received awards from the NWO. University Professor Johan van Benthem is going to conduct research as part of the project ‘Language in Interaction’, under the leadership of Radboud University Nijmegen. This group will examine language at genetic and cognitive levels, as well as dealing with how it relates to social interaction and linguistic structures.

In addition, Patti Valkenburg, UvA Professor of Youth and Media, will be involved in conducting research into the development of children. The scientists will look at the role of the development of the brain, how children’s’ opportunities are affected by their parents or grandparents, and how we can help children to develop better. Utrecht University is the lead organisation for this research project.

About the Gravitation Programme

The contribution is part of the NWO’s Gravitation Programme, funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). A total of six research teams from various Dutch universities will receive money for the next ten years in order to jointly set up excellent scientific research programmes. The newly appointed Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker has made 167 million euros available for this purpose.

The OCW and NWO have given new impetus to cooperation at the highest scientific levels with the introduction of the Gravitation Programme. The establishment of these excellent research groups should lead to a higher public profile for top-quality research in the Netherlands.

01/10/2012: New GRAPPA members

Three new members joined the GRAPPA group today:

- Christoph Weniger, GRAPPA Fellow

- C. Arina, postdoctoral fellow (joint position ERC G. Bertone/ ERC J. Silk)

- Hamish Silverwood, ERC PhD student with G. Bertone

07/09/2012: GRAPPA receives NWO grant for the training of young researchers






The GRAPPA Institute has received EUR 800,000 from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) for the training of young researchers. The GRAPPA graduate school aims to nurture young scientific talent with a strong teaching and research program in the fields of Astroparticle Physics and String Theory.

Below, the full NWO announcement (in dutch)

Ruim tien miljoen voor ontwikkeling jong toptalent

6 september 2012

Dertien onderzoeksscholen ontvangen van de Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) elk 800.000 euro voor het opleiden van jonge onderzoekers. De onderzoeksscholen bieden ruimte aan beginnende talentvolle onderzoekers om hun eigen ideeën te ontwikkelen. Met de financiële impuls kunnen de scholen vier promovendi aanstellen. De financiering is onderdeel van het Graduate Programme van NWO en bevordert de ontwikkeling van de Nederlandse promovendi-opleidingen.

Binnen het Graduate Programme van NWO kunnen lokale en landelijke onderzoeksscholen en Graduate Schools financiering aanvragen. In totaal hebben 28 scholen een subsidie aangevraagd. Daarvan ontvangen nu dertien scholen een bedrag van 800.000 euro voor de aanstelling van vier promovendi. Dankzij de subsidie kunnen de Graduate Schools een sterk onderwijs- en onderzoeksprogramma opzetten voor de ontwikkeling van jong wetenschappelijk talent.

De onderzoekscholen die financiering ontvangen zijn:

  • Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences (BCN) – RUG
  • Bijvoet Centrum voor Biomoleculair Onderzoek – UU
  • Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science – UU
  • Erasmus MC, Medical Genetics – EUR
  • Gravitation and AstroParticle Physics Amsterdam (GRAPPA) – UvA
  • Groningen Graduate School of Science: Synthetic Biology – RUG
  • Graduate School of Geosciences – UU
  • Graduate School of Life Sciences: Infection and Immunity – UU
  • Holland Research School on Molecular Chemistry (HRSMC) – VU, UvA, UL
  • Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalkunde (LOT) – UvA, VU, RU, UvT, RUG
  • Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek naar Katalyse (NIOK) – UU, TUE, UL, UT
  • Netherlands Research School of Chemical Biology (NRSCB) – UL, RU, RUG, TUE
  • Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences (WIAS) – WUR

Vrijheid voor startende onderzoekers

Graduate Schools richten zich op talentvolle studenten met interesse in een academische carrière. Zij kunnen tijdens hun masterstudie op de onderzoeksscholen kennis maken met het doen van wetenschappelijk onderzoek. De combinatie van onderwijs en onderzoek onder één dak heeft voor zowel studenten als voor de Graduate Schools voordelen. De promovendi krijgen meer keuzevrijheid bij de invulling van hun onderzoek en de keuze van de promotor. De Graduate Schools hebben het voordeel dat zij de meest talentvolle studenten kunnen aantrekken en daaruit de onderzoekers met de meeste potentie kunnen selecteren voor een promotieplaats.

De excellente onderwijs- en onderzoeksomgevingen zijn ontwikkeld naar voorbeeld van de meest succesvolle initiatieven wereldwijd. De Graduate Schools maken onderdeel uit van een of meerdere universiteiten en/of instituten.


Het Graduate Programme is ontwikkeld door NWO op verzoek van het ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap (OCW). Dit is de vierde toekenningsronde. In totaal hebben nu 51 scholen financiering ontvangen. Voor 2013 wordt opnieuw een ronde van het Graduate Programme voorzien.

Over NWO

De Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) is met een budget van ruim 500 miljoen euro per jaar een van de grootste wetenschapsfinanciers in Nederland. NWO stimuleert kwaliteit en vernieuwing in de wetenschap door het beste onderzoek te selecteren en financieren. NWO beheert onderzoeksinstituten van (inter)nationaal belang, geeft mede richting aan het wetenschappelijk onderzoek in Nederland en brengt wetenschap en maatschappij dichter bij elkaar. Onderzoeksvoorstellen worden beoordeeld en geselecteerd door vooraanstaande wetenschappers uit binnen- en buitenland. Dankzij financiering van NWO kunnen meer dan vijfduizend wetenschappers onderzoek doen.