Young researchers receive Heineken Young Scientists Award

29 June 2020

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has announced the names of four young researchers who will receive the Heineken Young Scientists Award in 2020. The jury selected internist‑infectiologist Meta Roestenberg, linguist Mark Dingemanse, physicist/chemist Freddy Rabouw and developmental psychologist Anna van Duijvenvoorde as the winners from among 61 nominees.

The Heineken Young Scientists Awards are important incentive prizes for young researchers whose outstanding achievements mean that they set an example for other young scientists. Each prize comprises a monetary award of EUR 10,000 and an artwork.

Medical/Biomedical Sciences

Meta Roestenberg, internist-infectiologist at Leiden University Medical Centre

Meta Roestenberg (b. 1981) is receiving the Heineken Young Scientists Award 2020 in the Medical/Biomedical Sciences for her research on the development of a malaria vaccine. With some 228 million cases and more than 400,000 deaths each year, malaria is one of the world’s most serious infectious diseases, affecting young children in particular. The candidate vaccine developed by Dr Roestenberg and her colleagues is the first genetically modified vaccine in the world.


Mark Dingemanse, linguist at Radboud University Nijmegen

Mark Dingemanse (b. 1983) is receiving the Heineken Young Scientists Award 2020 in the Humanities for his research into why languages are the way they are and how using language makes us human. His research is primarily fundamental but is also relevant to all kinds of social developments. We are talking more and more to devices, such as the iPhone’s Siri and Google Home. For this to run smoothly, we need to know more about the structure of conversations, and preferably about their universal structure, i.e. not just limited to a few European languages. Dingemanse’s research can contribute to this.

Natural Sciences

Freddy Rabouw, physicist/chemist at Utrecht University

Freddy Rabouw (b. 1988) is receiving the Heineken Young Scientists Award 2020 in the Natural Sciences for his research on new materials to generate light, for example for solar cells or display screens. The materials he studies are mainly nanocrystals of only a few thousand atoms in size. What he is attempting to understand is how such a nanocrystal can efficiently convert one colour of light into another. This is fundamental research, but with various applications. For example, semiconductor nanocrystals, also known as “quantum dots”, are used in the latest generation of televisions.

Social Sciences

Anna van Duijvenvoorde, developmental psychologist at Leiden University

Anna van Duijvenvoorde (b. 1983) is receiving the Heineken Young Scientists Award 2020 in the Social Sciences for her research on the development of the brain and behaviour in adolescents. Her work involves fundamental research but can have important social applications. For example, her research on how young people learn can help understand the impact of online education during the corona crisis.

About the Heineken Young Scientists Awards 

The winners of the Heineken Young Scientists Awards are selected from four research domains: Medical/Biomedical Sciences, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. The jury consists of Academy members and members or alumni of The Young Academy. This year, it was chaired by Carl Figdor, an Academy member and professor of immunology at Radboud University Nijmegen. Each prize comprises a monetary award of EUR 10,000 (funded by the Alfred Heineken Fondsen Foundation) and an artwork.

The Heineken Young Scientists Awards are among the ten prizes making up the biennial Heineken Prizes for Science and the Arts. The winners of the Heineken Prizes will receive their prize on Thursday 1 October 2020.


For visuals relating to the Heineken Young Scientists Awards, click here (Google Drive).

About the Heineken Prizes

Over the past five decades, the Heineken Prizes have become an internationally renowned distinction. They are the Netherlands’ most prestigious prizes in the arts and sciences. Every two years, five internationally renowned researchers and one artist, who lives and works in the Netherlands, are honoured. The work of the laureates offers new perspectives, achieves unexpected breakthroughs, and opens up new avenues for others. Since 2010 future generations are also celebrated. Four highly promising young researchers working at Dutch research institutes receive the Heineken Young Scientists Awards.

The laureates are selected by juries made up of members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Young Academy, and international experts. The Heineken science prizes include a monetary reward of USD 200,000. The artist receives EUR 100,000, half of which is intended for a publication and/or exhibition. The incentive prizes for young scientists are EUR 10,000 each.

The Heineken Prizes were instituted in 1964 by Alfred H. Heineken (1923–2002) in honour of his father Dr Henry P. Heineken (1886–1971). In that year the Dr H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics was awarded for the first time. It has since been joined by five other Heineken Prizes: the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art (1988), for Medicine (1989), for Environmental Sciences (1990) and for History (1990), and the C.L. Carvalho-Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science (2006).

Alfred Heineken’s daughter, Charlene L. de Carvalho-Heineken (b. 1954), is continuing this tradition as chair of the Alfred Heineken Fondsen Foundation and the Dr A.H. Heineken Foundation for Art, which finance the prizes.

More information

For more information, go to and Instagram heinekenprizes.