KU Leuven News
On Monday 26 September, the 2016-2017 academic year was officially opened at KU Leuven. In keeping with tradition, the procession of academic regalia started off the day. During the convocation ceremony, Rector Rik Torfs presented his version of Utopia: “The true utopia is not a perfect society, but a society that carefully creates room for the imperfect.”
23 September 2016 - Lake Victoria in East Africa will become a hotspot for hazardous thunderstorms due to climate change. This is shown by an international study led by KU Leuven. The findings were published in Nature Communications.
20 September 2016 - KU Leuven has found that a student and a former student have committed identity fraud in the context of written exams. The university takes this matter very seriously. The student will not be allowed to re-register at the university for two years. KU Leuven will also file a complaint against the other person with the office of the public prosecutor.
20 September 2016 – Was Popeye onto something after all? Researchers from the Athletic Performance Centre at KU Leuven have found that taking a supplement of nitrate – a substance found in leafy greens such as spinach – may enhance athletic performance.
19 September 2016 - When a conflict between a retailer and a manufacturer gets out of hand, the retailer may decide to stop carrying specific products, or the manufacturer may stop selling his products to the retailer. Marketing researchers at KU Leuven have now shown that these so-called conflict delistings have negative consequences for both parties. But in terms of sales, the retailer stands to lose the most.
19 September 2016 - Thousands of international students come to Leuven each year. With initiatives including Orientation Days and the Buddy Programme, KU Leuven ensures that these students receive a warm welcome.
16 September 2016 - A new system for automated food packaging reduces waste and is far more flexible than existing systems. With its three modules, the automated system can even process different food products on the same production line.
14 September 2016 - Twenty years after the technique was developed, scientists at KU Leuven and Stanford University have unravelled the mechanism behind the direct conversion process of natural gas into methanol at room temperature. This discovery will have major consequences for the future use of methanol in various everyday applications.
8 September 2016 – The yeast strains we are using to produce beer and wine were selected in the sixteenth century, long before the discovery of microorganisms. That is the main conclusion of a study conducted by researchers at VIB, KU Leuven, and UGent.
6 September 2016 - Mapping inaccessible sites in great detail, and doing it 120 times faster? The new 3D image processing technology developed at iMinds-KU Leuven makes it possible. The technology is particularly useful to map locations that are either difficult to access – think of narrow catacombs and sewers – or entail health and safety risks, such as nuclear power plants that require inspection after a catastrophe.
30 August 2016 - An interdisciplinary team of researchers at KU Leuven Campus Kulak Kortrijk have developed a new way to evaluate whether a cancer radiation treatment is effective. Their technique uses gas-filled microbubbles and ultrasonic sound waves to determine whether the radiation beams have reached the target area. This makes it easier to limit or avoid damage to healthy tissue.
25 August 2016 - Mosquitoes continue to build resistance to existing pesticides. Research has now shown that the chemical substances emitted by one of the mosquito’s natural enemies – the backswimmer – makes the biological pesticide Bti more deadly. These so-called predator cues also impair the mosquito’s immune system. Therefore, a cocktail of biological pesticides and synthetic predator cues very well be the future of mosquito control.
23 August 2016 - In older adults with depression, the brain's most important memory structure is often reduced in size. This structure, known as the hippocampus, is also smaller in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, the onset of Alzheimer's often comes with symptoms of depression as well. That’s why doctors and researchers have thus far been assuming that the two are linked. Contrary to expectations, however, this assumption turns out to be false.
19 August 2016 - A lack of oxygen in tumour cells contributes to the growth of cancer. That is the main conclusion of a study by Professor Diether Lambrechts and Dr Bernard Thienpont (VIB/KU Leuven). Maintaining a proper oxygen supply in tumours could inhibit the excessive growth of the cancer cells. These insights may eventually lead to new anti-cancer drugs.
26 July 2016 - Archaeologist and architectural historian Thomas Coomans teaches building archaeology and heritage conservation at KU Leuven, but he also travels to China on a regular basis. In a short amount of time, his research into centuries-old western churches in China has made him a leading expert on Chinese-western heritage. “Cultural cross-pollination has resulted in highly original buildings. Some churches are even entirely built according to the rules of feng shui.”
22 July 2016 - The death of King Albert I of Belgium in 1934 – officially a climbing accident – still fuels speculation. Forensic geneticist Maarten Larmuseau and his KU Leuven colleagues have now compared DNA from blood found on the scene in 1934 to that of two distant relatives. Their analysis confirms that the blood really is that of Albert I. This conclusion is at odds with several conspiracy theories about the king’s death.
In keeping with annual tradition, a number of meritorious Belgians have been granted a title of nobility of a civic distinction. Our university is once again well represented.
14 July 2016 - Research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) conducted by VIB-KU Leuven has led to interesting and unexpected conclusions. When scientists were investigating the relevance of the higher expression of the IP3R2 protein in blood of ALS patients, the general expectation was that lowering the expression of this protein would have a protective effect on the affected motor neurons. But the exact opposite was true: IP3R2 turned out to be a protector against the negative effects of inflammation during ALS. Even more, the same mechanism may also apply to other diseases, such as stroke and multiple sclerosis.
14 July 2016 - KU Leuven astronomers have shown that the interaction between the surface and the atmosphere of an exoplanet has major consequences for the temperature on the planet. This temperature, in turn, is a crucial element in the quest for habitable planets outside our Solar System.
13 July 2016 - Tips and tricks for a healthy lifestyle are everywhere, yet obesity rates are soaring like never before. What can help us make healthy choices? Lesson number one: pushing is passé. In 2016, we nudge.