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In the video series Bits of Innovation: the story behind the Grassroots grant, we follow 3 UvA teachers who want to improve their teaching with a UvA TLC Grassroots grant. The Grassroots grant is a TLC UvA Education grant awarded to UvA teachers who have an idea to innovate education with an ICT application. In this three-part interview series, we join these grant holders as they fully develop their ideas. We dive into the world of cockroaches, tooth extraction and social city maps. But, above all, we tell the story of three inspiring teachers. Keen to discover the story of these teachers? Check out part 1 of the Bits of Innovation series below!

Part 1 of 3: meet the grant holders

Part 1 of the series introduces us to our grant holders and their projects. Marlies Oostland (Faculty of Science) Tom van Riet (ACTA) and Jeanine Suurmond (Faculty of Medicine) are all at the start of an ambitious and innovative project. Together, we glance into the future and seek the answers to some important questions. Because who are these grant holders? What do they want to achieve with their ideas? And what if they don’t succeed? Check out the first interviews now! 

Marlies Oostland

Dr M. (Marlies) Oostland is an assistant professor in Cellular and Circuit Neuroscience. She has worked at the UvA since September 2022 and is part of the Faculty of Science (FNWI). She previously published several studies on mouse neurophysiology. And now she has received a Grassroots grant to develop the 3rd-year elective course Psychobiology: From Neuron to Behaviour.   

Within this course, students will use new technologies to research the nervous system and behaviour of living cockroaches. In the first interview, Marlies enthusiastically takes us into her area of expertise and underlines the importance of students gaining practical experience. And that is something that is not always common practice within the existing education system.

Disclaimer: The video mentions research on living cockroaches. Want to know more? View the Animal Testing Act


Interview 1 Marlies Oostland
Interview 1 Marlies Oostland

Tom van Riet

Dr T. (Tom) van Riet is an ACTA teacher and an Oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Amsterdam UMC. In addition, Tom is a brand new doctoral researcher after completing his doctoral thesis Learning about Tooth Removal with Robot Technology. With his awarded Grassroots grant, he builds on his thesis and is developing technology that allows dental students to practice extracting teeth before they have completed their studies.

In reality, these students often start their careers without experience and confidence in the field of tooth extraction. In the first interview, Tom explains how he wants to boost the confidence of his students, thus making a visit to the dentist a little less daunting for all of us. 

Interview 1 Tom van Riet
Interview 1 Tom van Riet

Jeanine Suurmond

Dr J.L. (Jeanine) Suurmond works within the Faculty of Science and is an associate professor in ‘Diversity responsive health care practices’ at Amsterdam UMC. Here, she also fulfils the important role of ‘Diversity officer’. Jeanine is therefore fully committed to making the necessary medical care accessible to everyone. Around the world, but also in cities like Amsterdam, groups of minorities do not always have access to necessary medical care. Jeanine wants to address this partly by making her students aware of these issues. She is therefore using the Grassroots grant to develop a social map of the city of Amsterdam.   

On this map, students and medics will soon be able to visualise how social determinants (such as the neighbourhood you live in) affect people’s health. She then has students consider the ways in which they can take these social determinants into account when providing care. In this first interview, Jeanine explains the added value of her project. 

Interview 1 Jeanine Suurmond
Interview 1 Jeanine Suurmond