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2022 - 2054

M20 Fund for PhD Scholarships

The UEF Endowment for interdisciplinary PhD research

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The M20 Program

The M20 Program is the UEF’s long-term initiative for PhD candidates looking to pursue a career in interdisciplinary research. Thanks to a generous legacy gift from an anonymous donor, the UEF is able to provide fully funded PhD opportunities to at least 350 candidates. Over the coming decades, the fund will provide grants worth 106 million Euro.

It is the M20 Program's goal to develop scholars with the interdisciplinary foundation required to address society’s most pressing challenges. After the pilot round with 4 PhD students in 2022, 10 new candidates will be able to join the program each year.

The program complements the University of Groningen’s vision to turn knowledge into impact by prioritizing interactions with the private sector, public actors and nonprofits.

Expanding on the institution's existing initiatives for cooperation, the vision features four new Schools for interdisciplinary research and education.

Four Schools

New Schools for Interdisciplinary Research

The Schools allow PhD students to cultivate wide-ranging proficiency in lines of research that can benefit societies worldwide. Each School operates as a network hub across different faculties, merging perspectives to create truly innovative ideas. By exposing scholars to multiple approaches, the Schools defy the scope of traditional programs, offering candidates novel career opportunities as highly adaptable experts.

The UEF’s M20 Program is a catalyst for the Schools’ ambition to leverage connections between the academic community and private sector companies, public institutions and civil society groups. Each School has a dynamic area of focus, and was named after an academic scholar who left an iconic imprint on the university and city of Groningen.

  • Wubbo Ockels School
  • Jantina Tammes School
  • Agricola School for Sustainable Development
  • Aletta Jacobs School for Public Health

The Wubbo Ockels School for Energy and Climate

Focused on the world's transition to renewable sources of energy, the Wubbo Ockels School works to help communities better adapt to climate change and the threat of global warming.

Research revolves around the use of hydrogen as an energy source, the decarbonization of the global economy, and the role of citizen empowerment in shaping public discourse on climate change adaptation.

The Wubbo Ockels School’s scientific director is Lorenzo Squintani, full professor in Energy Law, who obtained a PhD in European Environmental Law from the University of Amsterdam.

Wubbo Ockels (1946 - 2014) was a physicist and mathematician at the UG, and the first Dutch astronaut to ever travel into space

The Jantina Tammes School for Digital Society, Technology and Artificial Intelligence

Concentrated on artificial intelligence and technological innovation, the Jantina Tammes School covers the emerging fields of robotics, deep learning and smart devices. To what extent will their rapid development affect societies driven by knowledge and information? Projects explore new ways to address the challenges presented by ongoing technological innovation.

Focus areas include the growing importance of diversity and inclusivity in cognitive AI, the implications of new healthcare tools and methods based on robotics, and smart systems' increasing ability to think critically.

The Jantina Tammes Ockels School is led by Ming Cao, full professor in Networks and Robotics at the UG, who holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Yale University.

Jantina Tammes (1871 - 1947) was the first academic professor in genetics in the Netherlands, who strongly influenced the fields of zoology and botany

The Rudolph Agricola School for Sustainable Development

Drawing inspiration from the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Agricola School is committed to nurturing a sustainable society for present and future generations across the globe. The governance and politics of processes driving sustainable change are central to the School's program.

Projects concentrate on the political, social and economic factors that affect sustainable change, especially in relation to policy design and implementation. Other focus areas include environmental health, social justice, food security and income inequality.

The School’s scientific director is Frans Sijtsma, who is also an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences.

Rudolf Agricola (1443 - 1485) was an iconic intellectual in 15th Century Europe, and is considered one of the founding thinkers of Humanism.

The Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health

Working on research and education projects for public health, the Aletta Jacobs School has a special focus on healthy ageing. The School prioritizes studies that can help enhance our ability to prevent and manage disease, and the development of new insights that promote a healthy lifestyle and increase longevity.

The School is grounded in a broad vision that encompasses public health policies, mental health interventions and health education and awareness, and seeks to build an optimal living environment for healthy communities.

The School is led by Brigit Toebes, full professor in Health Law in a Global Context who obtained a PhD from the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Utrecht.

Aletta Jacobs (1854 - 1929) was the first female medical doctor in the Netherlands and an influential advocate for women’s rights in Europe.


The 2023 application round opens on 1 May 2023. For more information on how to apply for an M20 scholarship, please consult our Grants page

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The UEF welcomes donors, foundations, alumni and others who share our curiosity about the future.

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