EWI's best graduate of 2016

News - 28 September 2016

Tamara Kloek has been selected as EWI's best graduate of 2016 based on her thesis "The effect of dendritic spine morphology on synaptic crosstalk: Two multisynapse models, integrating diffusion on curved surfaces". She has graduated in the Applied Mathemetics department under supervision of dr. ir. F.J. Vermolen. The award ceremony is on November, 17.

A short summary of her work:

"Signals are transmitted within an animal body through the nervous system. At the cellular level, the nervous system consists of a special types of cells, called neurons. Neurons can transmit signals to other neurons through specialized connections, called synapses. For healthy functioning of the nervous system it is important that the  strength of these connections (synaptic strength) can be specifically controlled. Failure of these mechanisms are associated with neurological and neuropsychiatric  disorders like schizophrenia, Alzheimer disease, depression and autism.


Neurotransmitter receptors are present in the cell membranes of neurons and are important for the signal transduction at synapses. They are not fixed, but a subject to a (lateral) diffusion process on the cell membrane. The morphology of the cell membrane at these synapses is non-trivial and this shape strongly affects the receptor diffusion. The typical shape of a single synapse and its impact on the diffusive process has been studied. An open question was however how this shape influences the interaction between neighboring synapses. To study this, we set up a diffusion model that integrates the morpohology of multiple synapses."

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