KNAW Early Career Award for twelve young researchers

18 November 2021

Twelve young researchers, three from each of the Academy’s four domains, are to receive a KNAW Early Career Award. The award, consisting of €15,000 and a work of art, is intended for researchers in the Netherlands who are at the start of their careers and have original and innovative research ideas. The KNAW Early Career Award is being presented this year for the third time. 

The winners represent the full breadth of science and scholarship. They are, for example, studying the positive aspects of ADHD, the 'appetite' of cancer cells, the influence of social media on the public’s appreciation of science, and the relationship between psychological issues and the use of addictive substances.



Donya Alinejad (1983)

Assistant professor in Digital Media and Society, Utrecht University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media and Cultural Studies

Donya is interested in the influence of digital media on social processes. She is currently investigating how social media affects the interaction between scientists and the public around such issues as climate change and Covid-19. Her aim is to combine qualitative research on user experience with analyses of large-scale platform data and criticism of platform systems, whether in individual or collaborative projects. She is particularly interested in what research into social media can teach us about how contemporary societies value scientific knowledge.

Chiara Beneduce (1989)

Postdoctoral researcher in the History of Philosophy, Radboud University, Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, Center for the History of Philosophy and Science

Chiara Beneduce’s research focuses on the relationship between natural philosophy and medicine in late medieval thought. Against this background, she sheds light on unknown aspects of medieval conceptions of the body, especially as far as theories of generation and sense-perception are concerned. Beneduce paired her expertise in the history of philosophy and science with an interest in contemporary philosophy of science. Her combined study of pre-modern medical theories and present-day issues in the philosophy of medicine inspires her research agenda.

Lukas M. Verburgt (1989)

Individual fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) & guest researcher at Institute for Philosophy, Leiden University

Lukas Verburgt is a multitalented researcher whose field of expertise is the history of science and philosophy. His research focuses on shifts in the way scientists and philosophers define the nature and limits of their discipline and what this says about how they imagine its past and future. He is also interested in the role of the unknowable: what is regarded as scientifically or philosophically unknowable, and how does this relate to notions of what constitutes good science or philosophy and the mutual relationship between these disciplines?  

Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences and Law

Jonathan Mijs (1983)

Postdoctoral researcher sociology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Why is the growth of economic inequality accompanied by a growing belief in meritocracy? In his comparative research, Jonathan Mijs seeks an answer by analysing public perceptions of inequality in the Netherlands and the United States. He does this using an innovative combination of qualitative and quantitative research (including deliberative focus groups and survey experiments). These methods allow him to trace how people learn about inequality through the news, online and in their social environment, and what causes them to change their minds.

Jorien Treur (1988)

Assistant professor of Genetics and Psychiatry, Amsterdam University Medical Centers (work location: AMC), Department of Psychiatry

People who smoke cigarettes, consume excessive quantities of alcohol, or use cannabis are more likely than average to be depressed, bipolar or have a psychotic disorder. Why is that? This is the question that Jorien Treur examines in her research. Treur uses innovative genetic research techniques to identify cause and effect. She also focuses on new therapies, for example computer-based cognitive training that can help people stop addictive behaviours. Treur’s aim is to improve the treatment of mental health problems and prevent them from arising in the first place.

Lachezar Yanev (1987)

Assistant professor of International Criminal Law, VU Amsterdam, Department of Criminal Law and Criminology

Lachezar Yanev has conducted pioneering research on the various forms of criminal responsibility developed by the international courts and tribunals. In his PhD dissertation, he constructed a novel legal framework for the concept of co-perpetration responsibility in international law. At the same time, Yanev is also examining the laws and legal standards that domestic courts in the Netherlands (and other states) apply when exercising universal jurisdiction to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Medical, Biomedical and Health Sciences

Stefan Barakat (1984)

Assistant professor and junior doctor/specialist registrar at Erasmus Medical Center, Department of Clinical Genetics

What is the role of genetics and the non-coding genome on neurodevelopment disorders? This question is at the heart of Stefan Barakat’s research. As a physician and researcher, he builds bridges between patient care and basic research. His own research group is working on disease modelling for new genetic disorders and is developing new technology to better understand the influence of gene variants beyond the protein-coding genes. His research, for which he has entered into impressive international alliances, contributes to our knowledge of brain disorders and to the development of new therapeutic approaches.

Martine Hoogman (1979)

Junior principal investigator, Radboud University Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry and Department of Human Genetics

Martine Hoogman became inspired when the Association of ADHD Patients called on researchers to focus more on the potentially positive aspects of ADHD, for example creativity. It is her ambition to contribute to a more complete picture of neurobiological disorders such as ADHD and autism by studying their positive aspects, in the hope that this will lead to improvements for people with such disorders, for example in their self-image, employment participation and quality of life. Hoogman is also at the head of a major international collaborative project aimed at investigating the neurobiology of ADHD. 

Kim Kampen (1985)

Assistant professor, Maastricht UMC+, Department of Radiotherapy Maastricht University, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences

Kim Kampen investigates differences in consumption patterns between normal cells and cancer cells. This knowledge can then be used to search for drugs that specifically limit a cancer cell’s ‘appetite’, thus inhibiting their growth and making them less resistant to treatment. This is a more efficient way to slow cancer and target it more specifically while limiting the damage to normal cells.

Natural Sciences and Technology

Tessa Quax (1986)

Associate professor of Biology of Archaea and Viruses, University of Groningen, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, Molecular Microbiology

Tessa Quax is intrigued by the diversity and evolution of viruses. She studies the mechanisms by which viruses infect microorganisms called archaea. Archaea are single-celled organisms found in the most disparate places in the world. They grow in hot springs, in salt lakes, and in the human intestine. Her research contributes to a better understanding of the role of viruses in nature and their effect on the evolution of single-celled organisms. Quax is a pioneer in this field and seeks to connect virologists who study micro-organisms through her positions in various international professional associations.   

Alberto Ravagnani (1988)

Assistant professor of Coding Theory, Eindhoven University of Technology, Coding Theory and Cryptology Group, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

Alberto Ravagnani studies the mathematical theory of error-correcting codes, objects that make digital data resistant to noise and interference and that have applications ranging from satellite communications to video streaming. The main challenge in coding theory is to increase the correction capability of a code without lowering the transmission rate. Ravagnani’s research focuses on the connection between problems in coding theory and fundamental questions in combinatorics and algebra. For example, he studies how graph theory and combinatorial geometry can be used to establish the existence of codes with good error correction properties.

Marthe Walvoort (1983)

Associate professor of Chemical Glycobiology, University of Groningen, Stratingh Institute for Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Division of Chemical Biology

Marthe Walvoort is an expert on sugar molecules. She and her team of young researchers focus on the sugars in breast milk with the aim of discovering which ones contribute to the healthy development of babies. Her innovative approach is producing new insights into the functioning of these ‘healthy’ sugars. She is also intrigued by the sugars made by pathogenic bacteria. By identifying these sugars, Walvoort is helping to develop a new strategy for preventing bacterial infections.

KNAW Early Career Award

The winners have been selected in the four Academy domains: Humanities; Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences and Law; Natural Sciences and Engineering; and Medical, Biomedical and Health Sciences. There are three winners in each domain. The KNAW Early Career Award consists of a monetary award of €15,000, made available from the Academy Fund. The winners are free to spend this award on their research careers as they see fit.

Work of art

In addition, all winners receive the art object Extended Jewellery by Laura Klinkenberg (1992). It is a brass screw with a twist, representing the ‘twist’ needed in both research and art to come up with new ideas and symbolising the contrariness of research. Extended Jewellery won the art competition associated with the first edition of the KNAW Early Career Award. Laura Klinkenberg studied jewellery design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and has her own company, Ritual Design.

Awards ceremony

The KNAW Early Career Awards will be presented during a celebratory event in the Trippenhuis Building on 14 February 2022.