Royal Academy selects 21 new members

19 April 2018

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has selected 21 new members. Academy members, leading researchers from across all the scientific disciplines, are selected for their scientific and scholarly achievements.  The Academy has about five hundred and fifty members. Members are appointed for life. The new members will be installed on Monday 17 September 2018.

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The new members are:

Connie Bezzina (born in 1969)
Professor of Molecular Cardiogenetics at the Academic Medical Centre (University of Amsterdam)

Connie Bezzina has spent the past two decades conducting groundbreaking research on inherited cardiac disorders that lead to sudden death at a young age. One of her discoveries was that multiple genes can cause ventricular fibrillation. Bezzina’s research makes it possible to identify patients with a genetic predisposition for sudden cardiac death sooner, leaving more time for preventive therapy, treatment with drugs, and the implantation of a defibrillator. Bezzina works closely with medical professionals and is an inspiring example for many young female researchers.

Roshan Cools (born in 1975)
Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry at Radboud University Medical Centre

Roshan Cools specialises in research into the relationship between the brain, drugs and behaviour control. Her breakthrough came in 2001 with her study of the effects of dopaminergic medication in patients with Parkinson’s disease. She showed that the effects of this medication on patients’ ability to control impulsive behaviour, the root cause of serious psychiatric problems such as a gambling addiction, may be the result of overstimulating relatively intact regions of the brain. Cools has extended her research to healthy people who do not have a clinical diagnosis but have other clinical disorders accompanied by behaviour control problems, such as a gambling addiction, an eating disorder, personality disorders and ADHD. Cools is a member of the Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (AWTI) and of the board of the Rathenau Instituut.

Pedro Crous (born in 1963)
Professor of Fungal Biodiversity, Utrecht University, Professor of Evolutionary Phytopathology, Wageningen University & Research, and Director of the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute

Pedro Crous’ motto is ‘Fungi are the future’ because they improve our quality of life. Crous is one of the pioneers of fungal taxonomy and classification. He set up the MycoBank, an online database that streamlines the documentation of new mycological names. He is also one of the founders of a worldwide database of DNA barcodes for fungi that is available to researchers in agriculture, healthcare and industry. In 2017, Crous launched a project for schoolchildren: Wereldfaam, een schimmel met je naam’[World fame with a fungus that has your name]. After visiting a fungus exhibition, children were invited to send samples from their own gardens to the Westerdijk Institute. If the sample contained an unknown fungus, it was named after the child who sent it in. The project produced dozens of new fungi and is being imitated around the world.

Arwen Deuss (born in 1975)
Professor of Structure and Composition of Earth’s Deep Interior, Utrecht University

Arwen Deuss uses seismology to map the Earth’s deep interior from the upper mantle to the inner core. She connects seismology with mineral physics, geodynamic modelling and geochemistry to gain a picture of the way in which the Earth’s deep interior is evolving. Deuss identified the role that temperature and chemical composition play in the behaviour of the Earth’s mantle at 520 and 660 km depth. She also used whole Earth oscillations to study the Earth’s deep interior. Deuss is inquisitive and enthusiastic and conveys this in her communication with students and the general public. She regularly gives lectures and appears at festivals and on the radio to talk about her research.

Peter ten Dijke (born in 1960)
Professor of Molecular Cell Biology, in particular Signal Transduction, Leiden University Medical Centre

Peter ten Dijke is a gifted cell biologist whose career spans some thirty years. His groundbreaking research has helped clarify the key role of TGFβ, a growth factor in human cells that is at the root of many different forms of cancer. Ten Dijke and his team have discovered a range of molecules that can keep TGFβ in check, leading to new treatments for cancer, vascular and bone diseases, and wound healing. Ten Dijke is one of the most highly cited Dutch researchers in the world. Every two years he organises an international conference for TGFβ researchers. He is also actively involved in supporting the careers of students and post-doctoral fellows.

Judith van Erp (born in 1970)
Professor of Public Institutions, Utrecht University

Judith van Erp is interested in white collar crime and supervision of corporations. She is one of the European pioneers in this originally American field of research. Van Erp studies the effect of ‘naming and shaming’ and negative publicity on the reputation and behaviour of corporations. She has also studied the effectiveness of the Dutch television programme Opsporing Verzocht, in which the police appeal to the public to help solve specific crimes. She has analysed the workings of the Netherlands Gaming Authority and the willingness of business people to report fraud perpetrated by their competitors. Van Erp’s research has provided scientific evidence for the policies of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) and the Dutch Healthcare Authority.

Guillén Fernández (born in 1964)
Professor for Cognitive Neurosciences, Radboud University Medical Centre

Guillén Fernández is a specialist on the brain, memory and emotions. His interdisciplinary research combines cognitive neuroimaging, genetics, pharmacology and a range of clinical disciplines. For example, he showed how acute stress can sear an emotional experience into our memory. This process may form the basis for stress-related syndromes such as anxiety disorders and depression. His study of the basis of memory formation and its stabilisation/storage in the brain is also important for education. In addition to his main research interests, Fernández has worked with educational specialists to develop a programme teaching ten- to twelve-year-olds how the brain works and what fear does to the brain.

Remco van der Hofstad (born in 1971)
Professor of Probability, Eindhoven University of Technology

Remco van der Hofstad is a mathematician who bridges the gap between basic and applied research. For example, thanks to Van der Hofstad, chemists now have a better understanding of how polymer chains are formed and physicists can more easily calculate percolation processes, in which liquids seep through a filter. Van der Hofstad research is also used to model social networks like Facebook. Van der Hofstad cooperates with researchers at Philips and TNO, is the spokesperson for the Netherlands Mathematics Platform, and gives regular public lectures. He also makes frequent media appearances to explain the mathematics behind everyday affairs, such as the probability of winning the state lottery.

Petra de Jongh (born in 1971)
Professor of Inorganic Nanomaterials, Utrecht University

Petra de Jongh investigates nanomaterials that can be used for catalysis and energy storage and conversion. She first came to international prominence for her research on the nanostructure of materials for hydrogen storage. She also discovered a way to make lithium batteries safer and more compact. But the main thrust of her research is her attempt to understand catalysis and to design new and better catalysts, for example that last longer, are more efficient, or can be used in new sustainable processes, such as the manufacture of solar fuels. De Jongh has taken out fifteen patents and works with private industry regularly. Students say that she is an inspiring teacher who is responsive to their interests.

Christian Lange (born in 1975)
Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Utrecht University

Christian Lange is one of the leading scholars of Arabic and Islamic studies of his generation. He combines the traditional text-based approach to Islam with methods borrowed from sociology, religious studies, philosophy and anthropology. One of his works is a cultural history of paradise and hell in Islam. Lange runs a weekly tutorial on advanced readings in Arabic and helps researchers from the Middle East find research positions at Utrecht University. Lange is a member of The Young Academy and in 2017 authored the popular scholarly book Mohammed - Perspectieven op de Profeet.

Monique Laurent (born in 1960)
Researcher and MT member, CWI, and Professor of Combinatorial optimisation, Tilburg University

Monique Laurent uses mathematics to tackle practical and theoretical problems. Using techniques from algebra, geometry and discrete mathematics, she develops mathematical tools and efficient algorithms for optimisation problems, with a wide range of applications: from logistics to data analysis and quantum information theory. According to experts, Laurent takes the time to acquaint young researchers and outsiders with mathematics, thus ensuring a good research climate. She is also praised for her lucid and comprehensive academic publications.

Kofi Makinwa (born in 1964)
Professor of Electronic Instrumentation, Delft University of Technology

Kofi Makinwa develops the best sensors in the world. His designs can be found in mobile phones, smart watches and car radios. Students appreciate Makinwa’s enthusiasm and involvement. Thanks to his contacts with industry, they can often convert their designs into real prototypes. Makinwa is a former member of The Young Academy and has invented an inexpensive weather station for developing countries.

Judi Mesman (born in 1974)
Professor of the Interdisciplinary Study of Societal Challenges, Leiden University

Judi Mesman studies how children and parents see themselves and one another in society, drawing on insights from different disciplines. Mesman made a name for herself as an expert on early childhood socialisation in different cultures, and on gender stereotyping in upbringing. For example, she has shown that fathers and mothers convey information to their children about how girls and boys are supposed to behave in subtle and often unconscious ways. Mesman is one of the founders of Athena’s Angels, four female professors who have joined together to defend the interests of women academics. She is also Dean of Leiden University College The Hague, an international honours college whose study programmes address major societal challenges.

Antje Meyer
Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Professor of Individual Differences in Language Processing, Radboud University Nijmegen

Antje Meyer is one of the pioneers in the field of speaking and language processing. Many of her theories and techniques are now standard tools for language researchers. Meyer showed, for example, that the brain builds up the shape of a word phoneme by phoneme. She was one of the first researchers to investigate how people combine the uptake of new information and the formulation of words or sounds when they describe scenes and events. Her current work focuses on the relationship between language and attention, the way speaking and listening are combined in everyday conversation, and the origins and consequences of individual differences in language skills.

Michel Orrit (born in 1956)
Professor of Spectroscopy of Molecules in Condensed Matter, Leiden University

Michel Orrit has laid the foundation for single-molecule optics. He developed a sensitive technique that uses laser light at specific wavelengths to illuminate individual molecules. At first, he was only able to study fluorescent molecules, but he later broadened the technique so that it also worked for ‘dark’ molecules. One of his most recent achievements is the use of gold nanoparticles to scan the conditions in a cell. Orrit’s methods enable scientists to unravel many different physical and chemical processes in living matter. In 2017 he was awarded NWO’s Spinoza Prize, the Netherlands’ most prestigious science award.

Hermen Overkleeft (born in 1969)
Professor of Bio-organic Synthesis, Leiden University

Hermen Overkleeft wants to understand biological processes at the molecular level. He combines organic chemistry with glycobiology and immunology. For example, he designs reactive molecules that react with different classes of enzymes – both proteases and glycosidases – and subsequently remain irreversibly bonded. Using this toolkit, he has developed diagnostic agents that can be used in a variety of disorders, from haematological cancers to lysosomal storage diseases. These reagents can also be used in the search for compounds that could influence these diseases.

Judith Pollmann (born in 1964)
Professor of Early Modern Dutch History, Leiden University

Judith Pollmann studies the history of the Eighty Years’ War (1568 -1648), using diaries and chronicles to study how the Dutch handled the religious and political conflicts that divided them then. Through her research, she has been able to explain why this division sometimes led to exclusion and violence and at other times appeared to have little or no impact. She has recently demonstrated how memories of the Eighties Years’ War influenced the creation of a Dutch identity. Pollmann is the scholarly adviser for a seven-part series on the Eighty Years’ War that will be broadcast on Dutch television this autumn.

Ingrid Robeyns (born in 1972)
Professor of Ethics of Institutions, Utrecht University

Ingrid Robeyns’ research is positioned at the interface of analytical political philosophy, ethics, economics and gender studies. She wrote a standard work on justice and is familiar to the general public for her research on political and ethical issues, for example in relation to parental leave, elderly care, work pressure and diversity at universities, and the unfairness of top incomes. Robeyns is a former member of The Young Academy and publishes regularly in the daily newspaper Trouw.

Jeannot Trampert (born in 1961)
Professor of Geophysics, in particular Seismology, Utrecht University

Jeannot Trampert is known for his research on the Earth’s mantle and the processes that take place there. Trampert discovered hitherto unknown flow patterns in the mantle deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean. In the past twenty years, he has refined his ideas about the structure of the mantle and united the disciplines of geology, geochemistry and geophysics, which until then had often operated separately. In recent years, Trampert and his group have studied how best to predict earthquakes using neural networks that recognise patterns automatically in the early stages of seismic activity.

Peter Paul Verbeek (born in 1970)
Professor of Philosophy of Technology, University of Twente

Peter-Paul Verbeek investigates the relationship between humans and technology. He develops concepts that explain the latest technological advances and their impact on humanity. His work combines philosophy, ethics, design, biomedical technology, materials science, and art. Verbeek is a former chairperson of The Young Academy. He makes frequent media appearances, has talked about his research at festivals (Lowlands and De Zwarte Cross), and is the author of two popular science publications, De grens van de mens and Op de vleugels van Icarus. Verbeek is a member of the Rathenau Instituut board and TNO’s advisory board.

Detlef van Vuuren (born in 1970)
Climate Scientist, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Professor of Integrated Assessment of Global Environmental Change, Utrecht University

Detlef van Vuuren is an internationally prominent researcher in the field of global sustainability. He has developed computer models that include scenarios for exploring future changes in climate and the environment and that allow for the interactions between the climate, the physical environment and the economy. Van Vuuren’s work includes the climate scenarios of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

New foreign members:

Leonard van der Kuijp (born in 1952)
Professor of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, Harvard University (United States)

Leonard van der Kuijp is one of the leading experts worldwide on Tibetan history and culture and Buddhist epistemology. He uses Chinese source collections and thus connects Chinese and Western scholars. He has mastered Tibetan, Chinese, Sanskrit and Mongolian and studies Tibetan history using original and secondary sources. Van der Kuijp is the co-founder of the Buddhist Digital Resource Center, whose aim is to digitise all Tibetan and Buddhist literature and make it publicly available. During his long career, he has discovered new texts, trained a generation of researchers, revealed historical influences and shed new light on Tibetan culture in countless ways.

Peter Visscher (born in 1962)
Professor of Quantitative Genetics, University of Queensland (Australia)

Peter Visscher is one of the world’s leading specialists in statistical and quantitative genetics. He is one of the few scientists who understands the genetics of human, animal and plant populations. Visscher has developed a number of methods that have become standard practice in research on the genetics of complex diseases, such as schizophrenia. He and his team have developed software tools to map genes, combinations of genes and the associated traits in human, animal and plant populations. This has allowed them to show how intelligence is a heritable trait and that it depends on the effects of hundreds and even thousands of genes.

Jim Zachos (born in 1959)
Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California at Santa Cruz (United States)

Jim Zachos is an earth scientist renowned for his pioneering work in paleoclimatology and paleoceanography. He has discovered that there were various periods of climate change on Earth over the past 70 million years. He has also studied greenhouse periods and sudden changes in temperature millions of years ago. His work allows scientists to make more accurate quantitative predictions about global warming and ocean acidification in the near future. Zachos is much in demand as an adviser on climate matters for governments and the United Nations.