Our Talents & Discoveries 2017, Faculty of Science

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Leiden Science

Our Talents & Discoveries in 2017 Faculty of Science

Content Foreword


We Are Science Our Community Our People Working and studying in a sustainable environment Diversity & Inclusiveness

4 6 8 9

Research Our institutes Key Facilities Breakthroughs Spinoza Prize 2017 Honorary Chairs C.J. Kok Public Award C.J. Kok Jury Award

10 12 13 17 18 19 28

Education Highlights Faculty Award for Teaching

33 36

Science and Society 42 Facts & Figures 48 Leiden & Leiden University


Leiden Science, Our Talents and Discoveries in 2017 All rights reserved: Faculty of Science, Leiden University Privacy and publicity rights apply. Reproduction of (parts of) this publication is only permitted after written permission from the publisher. Requests can be sent to: publications@science.leidenuniv.nl



Foreword We proudly present the 15th edition of our ‘Talents and Discoveries’ and of our yearly Faculty Awards. Over the years, ‘Talents and Discoveries’ has grown and transformed from a mere presentation of faculty awards and research achievements, to a publication that gives a brief and broad overview of the many highlights of our research and education in the past year. Again, in this edition we present our scientific staff, support staff and students and several of our Faculty’s highlights in education and research. Research was highly rewarded. After the earlier very successful research assessments, in accordance with the Standard Evaluation Protocol for Mathematics (MI), Computer Science (LIACS) and Physics (LION), in 2017 the results were presented for Chemistry (LIC), Drug Research (LACDR) and Astronomy (STRW). All research assessments show that research quality, relevance to society and viability were at the highest level. Moreover, our Physics research was recognised with a Spinoza Prize for Michel Orrit: the ninth for our Faculty! In our overarching research domains faculty-wide collaboration is growing. And the university-wide interdisciplinary Data Science research program is in full swing. With the outside world new (inter)national partnerships have been initiated. In close collaboration with Delft University of Technology we have managed to achieve that the renowned Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) will relocate to new premises adjacent to Leiden University's Science Campus.

With the large number of different nationalities, our student community is a highly diverse group. This year we have initiated the Leiden Science Buddies programme to give our new international students a warm welcome in Leiden and help them to get acquainted around Leiden’s student life. We also laid the groundwork for a new international bachelor programme for Bioscience, projected to start in September 2019. To support refugee students, we organised the second edition of the Leiden Science Run, of which the proceeds were donated to the Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF). The reform of our science campus is moving on steadily. The Gorlaeus LCP building has been dismantled, staff, students and labs of the Gorlaeus high-rise moved to the new Gorlaeus building and our main entrance was moved to the Huygens/ Oort building. With these changes, the road is free to further constitute our building activities in realizing a more sustainable study and work environment, to be completed in the next couple of years. The Board of the Faculty of Science Geert de Snoo Dean, Han de Winde Vice Dean, Dirkje Schinkelshoek Executive Director, Bernice Dekker Assessor

we are science



our community

Staff Faculty of Science* Total


* End 2017, including guests and honorary staff members.

Dutch Other

61% 39%

male 64% female 36%

Staff members 180+ 51-180 11-50 1-10 0

• • • • •


Students 150+ 51-150 11-50 1-10 0

• • • • •

Students Faculty of Science BSc & MSc Total


Master Programmes

Dutch Other

75% 25%

all Programmes

male female

62% 38%


Nationalities of all students in our faculty*

• End 2017 including dual nationalities

we are science

our people

Behind the scenes of our faculty, forces are acting that are not always noticed. These forces are the staff members who help our researchers and educators perform their jobs and enable the faculty to flourish. Who are these people and what drives them? In this edition we put a spotlight on our people working for the Electronics Department, Fine Mechanical Department and Facility Management.


The Electronics Department and the Fine Mechanical Department support experimental research within the institutes of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, the Centre for Drug Research, Leiden Observatory and the Sackler Lab. Experimental research often requires specific functions that are not available in

commercial equipment. Both teams consist of highly trained and skilled technicians and engineers. They support our researchers with specific knowledge and experience in (micro) electronics, engineering and production of the development of tailor-made designs or devices.



With great enthusiasm and high standards for hospitality, the employees of the Facility Management facilitate a comfortable, safe and healthy working environment for our staff, students and visitors on a daily basis. They manage the service desks, warehouse and expedition department, are responsible for the

administration of chemicals, they offer technical support and maintenance, and take care of the Faculty’s waste flow - not only during office hours, but 24/7, including weekends and holidays. Their work is mostly performed behind the scenes, but it is of great importance for the operational management of our faculty and essential in case of incidents and calamities.

we are science

Working and studying in a sustainable environment

Sustainability is key in our societal role, and it is an issue that features strongly not only in our teaching and research, but also in our day-to-day activities. We have been using green electricity since 2010, and the ambition of our university is to reduce our carbon footprint by 50 percent between 2016 and 2020. Our new science campus is developed to be as sustainable as possible, employing heat exchanging technology. This makes our new Gorlaeus Building very energy-efficient - the only gas we use is for experiments in our labs! The range of programmes offered by our institutes gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in sustainability. In a cooperation with the municipality of Leiden, students from a wide range of disciplines work on sustainability issues. In the coming year, CML will launch a new series of monthly lectures called Triple E - Ecology, Energy, Environment - for the entire Leiden University community, with presentations from internationally renowned experts in the field of sustainability. Through their research, scientists from all of our institutes contribute to a more sustainable society. Eminent staff from the chemistry institute work on research for clean energy sources, extracted from sunlight and water. Biologists and environmental scientists are contributing to biodiversity in promoting nature-inclusive land use, or rethink our approach to supply and demand, production and consumption, stocks and waste, in order to contribute to a completely circular economy.

we are science

Diversity & Inclusiveness


We believe that a diverse and inclusive working and studying environment increases talent and supports innovative surroundings. Early 2015, we drew up our first plan for Diversity and Inclusiveness, which we updated in 2017. To further improve diversity and inclusiveness for staff and students, we have committed to actions such as raising the number of female full professors at the faculty and offering specialised training to our staff and students. The Faculty of Science aims to be one of the top three natural science faculties of the Netherlands when it comes to a good gender balance at the top level of our scientific staff. We work towards an inclusive work climate and greatly value a pleasant, safe and inspiring working environment. This means for instance that the buildings should be accessible for people with physical disabilities. With respect to the students, we focus on two aspects: improving the gender balance, and creating an inclusive student community in which all students feel at home and receive the support they need, regardless of their backgrounds. We strongly support diversity and inclusivity initiatives coming from staff and students in our community, as they are the forces behind important initiatives such as our Science Run for refugee students, the annual Van Bergen Fund award, the winners of which aim to integrate students from all different nationalities and backgrounds, and RISE (Researchers in Science for Equality), with whom the faculty signed a renewed collaboration this year.


our institutes

› Leiden Observatory (STRW)

Our Observatory focuses its research on the two main programmes Galaxies and the structures in which they are embedded and Exo-planets, and forming stars and planets. The Observatory’s research is part of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy, NOVA, which has been evaluated as world class - Leiden astronomy research is also classified as exemplary. Over the last years, the bachelor’s and master’s programme Astronomy have attracted growing numbers of students, many of whom international. The PhD programme at the Observatory is exceptional in that it is presumably the largest world-class PhD programme in astrophysics across the globe.

› Leiden Institute for Advanced Computer Science

› Leiden Institute of Physics (LION)

Famous for its Nobel laureates such as Hendrik Lorentz and Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, the Leiden Institute of Physics’ research is still world-leading and excellent, according to an independent evaluation. LION is also a member of The Dutch Research School for Theoretical Physics, which was also reviewed as excellent only last year. The institute focuses its research around Theoretical physics, Quantum matter and optics and Biological and soft matter physics. Education is provided in the bachelor’s and master’s programme Physics.

(LIACS) Algorithms and Software Technology and Computer systems, Imagery & Media form the backbone of our Computer Science research programme, with Data Science as an important addition. The research quality at LIACS is evaluated as very good: the very strong focus areas, the very good research output, and the close collaboration with the Leiden University Medical Center are named in particular. Students can enroll in LIAC’s bachelor’s programme Computer Science, which has specialisations in Bio-informatics and Computer Science & Economy, and the master’s programmes Computer Science and ICT inBusiness and the Public Sector.

› Leiden Institute for Chemistry (LIC)

› Mathematical Institute (MI)

Focusing on the research programmes Analysis and Stochastics and Algebra, geometry and number theory, our Mathematical Institute’s research mission is to perform high-quality research at the frontiers of mathematical knowledge. The MI has been very successful in attracting top-level mathematicians. As a second part of its mission, the institute offers education in pure and applied mathematics and statistics, both in its bachelor’s and master’s programme Mathematics and in

its master’s programme Statistical Science for the Life and Behavioural Sciences, as for students from the other programmes at Leiden University.

To contribute fundamental knowledge to important societal issues such as sustainable energy and health and disease, our chemistry institute focuses on the two research programmes Energy and Sustainablility and Chemical Biology. These programmes represent all the sub-disciplines of chemistry that are needed to facilitate the broad bacherlor’s programmes Life Science & Technology and Molecular Science & Technology, both organised together with TU Delft. Master’s students can choose either Life Science & Technology or Chemistry at the LIC. The LIC aims to be an international and challenging environment where young talented researchers can develop their own research lines and where education and research are intimately intertwined.


› Leiden Academic Center for Drug Research (LACDR)

With a modern and innovative approach to pharmaceutical sciences, supported by technological platforms such as the cell observatory, metabolomics platform, and organon-a-chip technology, LACDR has created a world-class innovative science-driven drug research programme. The combination of computational and experimental work is a major strength of LACDR. The research is focused around BioTherapeutics, Drug & Target Discovery and Systems Pharmacology. LACDR offers both a bachelor’s and a master’s programme in Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences, which are in high demand with (international) students.

› Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL)

With highly multidisciplinary fundamental and applied research using a selection of model organisms, and attention to evolutionary processes and the role of the environment in biological processes, IBL represents the core of modern biological research at Leiden. Within the two research programmes Animal Sciences and Health, Plant Sciences and Natural products and Microbial Biotechnology and Health, the institute houses a number of first class scientists who are known world-wide. IBL offers both a bachelor’s and a master’s programme Biology, that are strongly intertwined with the research programme.

› Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML)

Our Institute of Environmental Sciences works on important questions, relevant to some of the most critical problems facing humanity. It houses a world leading research programme in Industrial Ecology, according to an independent evaluation. From the Conservation Biology programme, especially the Ecotoxicology is considered strong and of future importance. The CML offers a master’s programme in Industrial Ecology, attracting a diverse and international group of students.

Research Focus Areas and Research dossiers

In order to stimulate interdisciplinary research, Leiden University has designated 11 profile research areas around which all Leiden research is centred. We participate in the focus areas 'Fundamentals of Science' and 'Bioscience, the science base of health'. Read more about the impact of our research in our research dossiers: Exploring the Universe, The quantum computer, Data Science, Effective drug development and Keeping the planet liveable. www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/research-dossiers

Data Science Research Programme

The Leiden Data Science Research Programme brings together data science with all other academic domains. It makes the unique university data collections available. The programme is a joint effort of all seven faculties of Leiden University. PhD students are playing key roles within the programme. Each student has two supervisors or co-supervisors, one a specialist in data science, and one from the faculty's research field. Besides PhD candidates, other researchers and students are very welcome to join in the research.


key facilities

Our faculty hosts a number of key facilities, enabling our research groups to do their innovatory research. Open access is the key to publishing our research results, but more importantly, by making our facilities available we utilise their full potential. We invite other, international parties to use our high-impact facilities through our Open Access Research Infrastructure platform (OARI), thus enabling and encouraging collaboration between researchers around the world.

› Cell Observatory The Cell Observatory houses cutting-edge bio-imaging technology and other facilities, aimed at visualising the dynamic structures of life, from molecule to cell. The aim of research at the Cell Observatory is to understand the fundamental mechanisms of life that are essential for making progress in tackling diseases.

› NMR Facility With the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) Facility, much can be learned about the structure and dynamics of proteins. This newly obtained knowledge provides a basis for medicine and vaccine development.



› NeCEN The powerful electron microscopes at NeCEN make it possible to explore proteins, macromolecular complexes, bacteria, and cell organelles, thus gaining valuable information for future drug development. The methods that are employed are suitable for a wide variety of research applications that can lead to faster and better methods for the understanding, diagnosis, cure and prevention of diseases at a molecular level.

› Metabolomics Facility The Metabolomics Facility brings together two research groups: the Biomedical Metabolomics Facility – consisting of experts in clinical metabolomics – and the Natural Products Lab – a pioneer in plant and herbal medicine metabolomics. With the Metabolomics Facility, our researchers strive to contribute to the prevention of diseases and to help improve health throughout the human lifespan.


universiteitleiden.nl/en/research/ research-facilities/science/ metabolomics-facility




Leiden Observatory

Photo credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser/S.E. de Mink

Two black holes, in close orbit around each other - have they slowly drifted together, or did they emerge from two orbiting stars? Together with two colleagues from Amsterdam, Leiden astronomer Simon Portegies Zwart calculated that the second scenario is rather likely.

Leiden Institute of Physics This year, the first switchable molecular diode was developed by an international group of scientists, led by Leiden physicist Sense Jan van der Molen. The diode can be turned on and off through humidity. Vice versa, it also functions as a humidity sensor at the nanoscale.



Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science Leiden University computer scientists Yu Liu, Yanming Guo and Michael Lew are one step closer to their ultimate goal: developing search engines with visual recognition. Their publication of a new algorithm for fusing multi-scale deep learning representations has been received with great enthusiasm. No other algorithm in the world is, at this moment, better able to recognize images.

Credit beeld: Paolo Cereda

Mathematical Institute How do forensic scientists deal with complex DNA evidence found at crime scenes? Giulia Cereda developed new statistical models for this problem. ‘The use of accurate mathematical models on forensic DNA evidence is very important to give probabilistic weight to observations. Geneticists and mathematicians need to work together to improve forensic science’, she concludes.


Leiden Institute of Chemistry Experimental drug BIA 10-2474 was a drug designed by a pharmaceutical company to treat conditions such as chronic pain - however, in a French clinical trial it showed unwanted side effects in humans. Mario van der Stelt and his group figured out why: BIA 10-2474 not only binds to the protein it targets, but to other proteins as well. It thus deactivates proteins that are involved in the metabolism of nerve cells.

Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research A cheap and fast method to test medical drugs for efficacy and potential side effects is likely to be developed in the future thanks to organs-on-chips. These miniature model organs are equipped with human organ cells and microfluidic channels. In addition, guts-on-chips respond in the same way to aspirin as real human organs do, Leiden researchers found. This is a sign that these model organs are good predictors of the effect of medical drugs on the human body.



Institute of Biology Leiden New sequencing technologies can be used to efficiently generate the genome of an endangered animal, the European eel. With an international team, Leiden biologists demonstrated how nanopore technology was successful in doing so for this endangered species. The genetic information forms the basis for unravelling the physiological control of the eel’s reproductive cycle, as well as understanding its ecology and evolution. Next on the list of the Leiden researchers is the genome of a Dutch national icon: the tulip.

Institute of Environmental Sciences Climate change poses a threat to European electricity production. Europe is expected to face more droughts and water shortages in the near future. The vulnerability of the European electricity sector to changes in water resources is expected to worsen by 2030 as a consequence of climate change, environmental researcher Paul Behrens calculated.


Spinoza Prize 2017 for Michel Orrit, Professor of Spectroscopy

Photo credit: Ivar Pel NWO

For his ground-breaking work in the field of spectroscopy, French-born physicist Michel Orrit was awarded a Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific award in the Netherlands. According to the Netherlands Organisation for Academic Research NWO, Orrit is a pioneer in his field, combining excellent research with the modest role of lecturer and PhD supervisor. This makes him an ‘invisible giant’ in the world of spectroscopy. Orrit studies the interaction of light with organic condensed matter. It is in part due to his work that it is now possible to optically study individual molecules. He developed a highly sensitive technique to fluorescently light up molecules by means of laser light with specific wavelengths, so that they can be individually detected. Single-molecule optics has numerous applications. ‘This technique makes it possible to show whether a particular protein is present in a cell or not. You can determine much faster whether someone is a carrier of a disease or work out a person’s genetic make-up in just one afternoon. That’s really useful for, for example, forensic analyses,’ Orrit explains. Orrit also developed techniques to locate nanoparticles and molecules without fluorescence. His research helps to

unravel the physical and chemical processes in living matter and may be fruitful in identifying the cause of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Ebola. ‘But the applications outside the medical and forensic world are also enormous. Recently, for the first time ever, we imaged conductive polymers that are used for making solar cells. You need to know their characteristics in order to be able to make new solar cells work as efficiently as possible.’ The Spinoza Prize will allow Orrit to carry out more innovative research in the coming years: ’ We hope to ultimately be able to make a nanoscale scalpel that we can use to manipulate the molecules within a cell. I’m sure there will be all kinds of possible medical or chemical applications, but for the time being, what’s important is to find out how it all works.’


Honorary chairs

Each year, a number of eminent scientist are appointed to occupy honorary chairs in the faculty. The Lorentz chair has an illustrious history; 15 occupants of the chair later received a Nobel Prize in Physics, the most recent prize being awarded in 2017 to Kip S. Thorne. In general, the honorary professors spend two months at the institute and give both advanced lectures for PhD students and staff members, as well as a public lecture for a broad audience.

lorentz chair Renata Kallosh is a physics professor at Stanford University who made crucial contributions to the development of super gravitation, string theory and cosmology. In 2017, she was the first female Lorentz professor in the long history of the Leiden Institute of Physics.

Joanna Aizenberg is professor of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at Harvard University and professor of Materials Science at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. She was awarded the 2017 HAVINGA MEDAL for her eminent and original contributions to the field of biologically inspired materials science.

OOrt chair Imke de Pater from the University of California in Berkeley delivered the twenty-eight Oort Lecture in May. De Pater is a Dutch-American astronomy expert, specialising in radio observations and infrared observations using adaptive optics.

kloosterman chair H. Garth Dales is Professor of Pure Mathematics at Lancaster University. He specialises in Banach algebras, abstract harmonic analysis, and foundations of mathematics. In October, he held the Kloosterman chair at the Mathematical Institute.

PAscal chair Heike Trautmann is the director of the European Research Center for information Systems and professor of Statistics at the University of MĂźnster. At the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science, she addressed fake news in her Pacal lecture in March.


C.J. Kok Public Award


C.J. Kok Fund The C.J. Kok fund was raised from the assets of Mr C.J. Kok, biology tutor from The Hague, who was strongly committed to the natural sciences. Upon his death in 1965, he left his entire estate to Leiden University. The C.J. Kok fund was established with this inheritance. In his will Mr Kok stated that both the Faculty of Science and the Leiden University Medical Center would annually be given the opportunity to use the fund’s reve­ nues to award outstanding performance to those demonstrating ‘a pronounced, significant talent for mathematics or solving medical problems’. The will also states that the assessment of performance should be on purely scientific grounds and that no distinction should be made regarding ‘rank, status, race, national character, origin, relationship and so on’.

C.J. Kok Awards The Faculty of Science grants two C.J. Kok awards each year: the C.J. Kok Public Award, also known as the award for the ‘Discoverer of the Year’, and the C.J. Kok Jury Award, the award for the best PhD thesis from the past year. All institutes within the faculty are given the opportunity to nominate candidates for both awards. Read more about this year’s nominees for the C.J. Kok Jury Award from page 28.

Alexander van Oudenhoven (environmental scientist) was chosen as Discoverer of the Year 2016 for his research on the value of ecosystems, such as forests. These so-called ecosystem services do not only entail the financial value of for instance wood and fruit from the forest, but also the cultural services such as recreation, education and inspiration. Determining a financial value for these services is difficult; Van Oudenhoven searches for relevant indicators and makes them practicable for policymakers and administrators. Van Oudenhoven was chosen with 19.2 percent of the votes.

Winner C.J. Kok Public Award 2016


C.J. Kok Public Award

KiDS team Leiden Observatory

Mapping the invisible universe By George van Hal

It is a task of truly mind-boggling proportions: creating a map of the three-dimensional structure of the entire universe. Not content with just that Herculean effort, the members of the Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS) team managed to up the ante. They didn’t just map the structure of the universe we can see, but also managed to chart that which we can’t. Of course, mapping something that’s truly invisible is impossible. The KiDS team charted the structure of dark matter: invisible stuff that does not interact with regular matter. It does, however, warp space-time just like regular matter, deforming it in a way that’s visible by how light changes its path while moving. This so-called weak lensing effect revealed the distribution of regular and dark matter in greater detail than ever before. ‘We found a difference in the statistical properties of our distribution and previous measurements’, says team member Henk Hoekstra. ‘Although our result isn’t statistically significant, it’s certainly interesting.’ The KiDS team started their research in 2012 and forms an ever evolving international organism: a collaboration among a variety of universities in various countries. The team is led by principle investigator Koen Kuijken from Leiden Observatory. Continue reading online: www.universiteitleiden.nl/ science-talents-and-discoveries/yearly-awards

The publication on this discovery was one of the three most cited in astronomy in 2017. ‘The next data set covers twice the sky surface, and should halve our uncertainty’, adds Koen Kuijken, overall leader of the KiDS team. If that data increases the significance, the team might be on to something big. ‘The chance that we haven’t found anything is only a few percent. It’s exciting.’


Scott Waitukaitus Leiden Institute of Physics

Screaming and dancing balls lead to new physics discovery By George van Hal

Viral YouTube videos are not where you’d typically expect new physics to pop up. But when physicist Scott Waitukaitis saw one in which an aspiring Ukrainian rapper dropped hydrogel balls on a hot plate, he knew something was up. His careful analysis revealed a new physical effect and opened the door to possible applications in soft robotics. 1.2 million. That’s how many people have currently viewed ‘Hydrogel Beads in a Frying Pan’, the YouTube video by aspiring rapper Ivan Panchenko. The video’s popularity is easily explained: when the balls hit the hot surface, something surprising happens. They keep on bouncing, while screaming in high tones. It’s an outcome that tickles the viewer - it appears to be magic, but isn’t. It’s physics. Physics that Scott Waitukaitis has since discovered. ‘We discovered a new version of the Leidenfrost effect’, Waitukaitis says. This effect can be seen when water drops dance on a hot place, floating on a cushion of their own vapour. In hydrogel balls – soft solids comprising mostly water – something similar happens. When they hit the surface, vapour escapes and pushes them up, adding a spring to their bounce. But it also causes the surface to vibrate, creating pressure waves in the same way the cone of a speaker does. In short: the balls don’t just jump, they scream.

Scott Waitukaitus (Arizona, 1983) is an American physicist living in Amsterdam. He has a habit of taking on the physics of everyday things. He has previously also described why you can run on cornstarch and water, and why you might get shocked by doorknobs. Continue reading online: www.universiteitleiden.nl/ science-talents-and-discoveries/yearly-awards


C.J. Kok Public Award

David Holmes Mathematical Institute

The pure mathematics of elliptic curves By Dorine Schenk

What do cryptography and string theory have in common? They both use mathematical equations called elliptic curves. String theorists use these equations to calculate the path of a particle, whereas cryptographers use them to encrypt data. David Holmes studies elliptic curves from a purely mathematical point of few, only occasionally touching on the many applications these equations have. Contrary to what the name might suggest, elliptic curves are not ellipses. They are equations of the form y2=x3+ax+b. The name is mostly historical: the equations were used to calculate the circumference of ellipses. Nowadays, cryptographers use them to encrypt data because they require only small encryption keys compared to other cryptography methods. This reduces the encryption time. The equations also play a role in the pure mathematics of Fermat’s last theorem and the abc conjecture.

David Holmes (London, 1986) grew up in the South of England and did his PhD in Warwick, United Kingdom. In 2012 he started as a postdoc in Hamburg, but after 3 months he moved to Leiden. He became an assistant professor there in 2014.

Continue reading online: www.universiteitleiden.nl/ science-talents-and-discoveries/yearly-awards

Physicists use elliptic curves in string theory to describe the path of a particle in space-time. To do this, the parameters ‘a’ and ‘b’ in the equations have to be a specific type of numbers, called complex numbers. Cryptographers and number theorists want the parameters to be a different type of numbers, for example rational numbers or integers. ‘But mathematically, the parameters can be anything you want’, says Holmes. ‘Mixing different types of numbers together in the equations is what I do. And it is a lot of fun.’


Suzan Verberne Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science

Better searching behind your bubble By Desiree Hoving

When searching on the Internet, you expect your search engine to come up with the results you are looking for. But what information is relevant for you, turns out to be a very personal matter. Data scientist Suzan Verberne develops search systems that help you find just the information you need. Fake news never pops up in the timeline of Suzan Verberne’s Facebook. However, she regularly sees posts in which an article is being labelled as fake. These messages are written by Nieuwscheckers, an initiative in which students from the master Journalism & new media from Leiden University check whether news is true or false. ‘Wouldn’t it be fantastic if their manual analysis could be automated?’, Verberne asks rhetorically. The data scientist explains the possible advantages: ‘We could better recognize what news is fake and map the network of clickbait entrepreneurs. Besides, we would be able to analyse who reads fake news and who reads messages about fake news from Nieuwscheckers. Although the people behind Nieuwscheckers suspect these messages do not arrive in the network in which the original fake news message was shared’, says Verberne, who wrote her PhD about smart search engines at Radbout University Nijmegen. In Leiden, she focuses on predicting what search results will be relevant for specific users of search engines.

SUZAN VERBERNE (Nijmegen, 1980) started in Leiden as a data scientist in March 2017 and helps people to search for information on the Internet. She lives in a filter bubble on Twitter and doesn’t follow too many people she tends to disagree with.

Continue reading online: www.universiteitleiden.nl/ science-talents-and-discoveries/yearly-awards


C.J. Kok Public Award

Hans Kistemaker Leiden Institute of Chemistry

Making molecules to understand the cell By Esther Thole

Nature is extremely good at synthesizing every molecule it needs. Imitating that proficiency in the lab is challenging, but nevertheless crucial to understand what goes on in a living cell. Hans Kistemaker developed synthetic methods that enable the study of DNA repair, one of life's key processes. In May 2017, he graduated with honors on his groundbreaking chemical research. Proteins are the workhorses of the cells in our body. They take care of energy production, transport and repair of the cell's most precious possession, the DNA. Most proteins need to be activated through chemical signals. These are small molecules that bind to their target proteins. Access to such molecules is essential to study how proteins interact. But synthesizing them in the lab was out of reach, until Hans Kistemaker came along.

Hans Kistemaker (Oldenzaal, 1985) studied chemistry at the University of Groningen. He performed his bachelor and master research internships in the organic chemistry group of Nobel laureate Ben Feringa. He then moved to the bioorganic synthesis group of Hermen Overkleeft and Gijs van der Marel at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry, where he performed his PhD research under supervision of Dima Filippov. He is now senior scientist at ProQR Therapeutics, a drug development company focusing on severe genetic disorders.

Kistemaker focused on a type of signalling called ADPribosylation. ‘Proteins involved in the repair of DNA damage, which is a crucial process for the cell to survive, become activated when a molecule or a chain of molecules called ADP-ribose binds to them’, he explains. ADP-ribose consists of ribose, a sugar molecule, coupled via two phosphate groups to adenosine, one of the building blocks of DNA. ‘To get a detailed picture of how DNA repair works, we need ADP-ribose molecules to perform experiments and measurements. Cells have no problem in introducing ADPribose modifications, but isolating these molecules from cells is complicated and the yields are extremely low.’ Continue reading online: www.universiteitleiden.nl/ science-talents-and-discoveries/yearly-awards


Alireza Mashaghi Tabari Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research

An intimate look at protein folding By Nienke Beintema

Alireza Mashaghi studies the proteins that help other proteins to fold, using advanced techniques at the level of single molecules. Detailed knowledge of these chaperone proteins is needed to better understand diseases that result from mistakes in protein folding, like Alzheimer’s. Eventually, this may help scientists to design new drugs that target the chaperones, or that can act as synthetic chaperones. Proteins play a vital role in nearly all processes in our body. Thousands of different proteins are active in every cell. Their function is not just determined by their chemical composition, but also by their 3D shape. Incorrect folding or loss of the right shape lies at the basis of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and certain cancers. Alireza Mashaghi studies proteins called ‘chaperones’ that make sure other proteins are folded in the right way. ‘Chaperones are like police officers who restore order when a situation goes wrong’, explains Mashaghi. ‘They literally grab proteins and hold them in the right shape.’ Mashaghi discovered that these chaperones guide proteins during the entire folding process, preventing mistakes in an early stage. Mashaghi uses advanced techniques like optical tweezers, that employ laser beams to stretch single molecules at the nanometer scale. ‘I operate at the interface between physics, engineering and biomedicine’, he says. ‘Eventually we aim to design drugs that can help to treat and prevent diseases related to protein folding.’ Continue reading online: www.universiteitleiden.nl/ science-talents-and-discoveries/yearly-awards

Alireza Mashaghi Tabari studied medicine and physics at the same time and completed his PhD (cum laude) in physics at the TU Delft in December 2012. Mashaghi came to Leiden in 2016, after having been a neurology and ophthalmology fellow at Harvard Medical School. He is also a visiting scholar at Harvard University, an adjunct professor of ophthalmology at Fudan University, People’s Republic of China, and an active advocate of interdisciplinary research. ‘I am not a medical doctor who converted to science. I really have two professions.’


C.J. Kok Public Award

Xiaorong Zhang Institute of Biology Leiden

A lethal effect of a helpful protein By Willy van Strien

The soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a highly valued asset in biotechnology, produces a number of proteins that help it to infect and genetically modify plant cells. Xiaorong Zhang unravelled the role of one of them, VirD5. To his surprise, the protein hampers proper cell division, which is lethal. How can this toxic protein benefit the infection process? Wounded plant roots attract the soil bacterium A. tumefaciens, which then infects and genetically modifies root cells, causing crown gall growth. In this tumorous tissue, the bacterium prospers and reproduces. During infection, A. tumefaciens pumps a number of proteins into the plant cells that enable transfer and insertion of an oncogenic piece of bacterial DNA. Xiaorong Zhang investigated the role of one of them, virulence protein D5 (VirD5).

After finishing his study at the Soochow University in Suzhou, China, Xiaorong Zhang (1986) aimed for a PhD position abroad. When he contacted Paul Hooykaas, the answer he received was so enthusiastic that he came to Leiden. He currently holds a post-doc position at the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht. Continue reading online: www.universiteitleiden.nl/ science-talents-and-discoveries/yearly-awards

He showed that VirD5, if present in plant cells in high amounts during a prolonged period of time, interferes with the segregation of chromosomes during cell division, increasing the risk that daughter cells will either miss a chromosome or carry an extra chromosome, which is lethal. So, VirD5 is a toxic protein. How can it help A. tumefaciens to infect host cells? During infection, Zhang argues, the protein is delivered in a low dose during a short time. ‘Transient presence of limited amounts may just slow down cell division, creating more time for insertion of bacterial DNA into host plant DNA’, he says.


Martina Vijver Institute of Environmental Sciences

Introducing nanoparticles safely By Willy van Strien

More and more nanoparticles appear in everyday life. From sweat-free socks to effective cancer medicines: the minute particles have all kinds of applications, and developments are going fast. But are all these new particles safe? We are still in time to find out, says Martina Vijver. ‘Our study on hazards and risks of nanoparticles in the environment runs parallel to technological developments’, Vijver says. ‘While much harm has already been done by insecticides, there are hardly any emissions of nanoparticles yet. We are now able to inform society and industry about possible environmental repercussions of new nanotechnology products before they become available.’ The risks that organisms run when exposed to nanoparticles are largely unknown yet. ‘These particles do not form a homogeneous solution in water, but a suspension. They may sink to the bottom or float on the surface and aggregate. This behaviour determines how organisms are exposed and how they may take up the particles.’ Vijver’s group already showed in the lab that gut cells of zebrafish embryos take up particles smaller than 50 nanometres after ingestion. She also showed that water flea embryos in the brood pouch of their mother take up nanoparticles. Now, Vijver is planning to investigate how the organisms are exposed to and take up the particles under natural conditions.

Continue reading online: www.universiteitleiden.nl/ science-talents-and-discoveries/yearly-awards

Martina Vijver (1975) studied Environmental chemistry at Hogeschool IJsselland in Deventer and obtained her master’s degree at the University of Greenwich. She performed a PhD research at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and was appointed associate professor at Leiden University, where she started to explore the new field of nano-ecotoxicology.


C.J. Kok jury Award

Best thesis of the year What makes a thesis a winning one? The members of the jury make their selection based on the thesis itself and the corresponding recommendation, which is usually written by the (co)promotor of the PhD student or his or her scientific director. Main criteria for assessment are: › The scientific quality, defined by whether the content is innovative for its field of research, other disciplines, and science in general. › Do the research results bear direct relevance to society? › Is the thesis easily accessible and clearly written? › Career prospects after promotion are also considered in the jury’s assessment, if this information is available. Members of the 2017 jury are professors Carel ten Cate, Miranda van Eck, Bas Edixhoven, Mark Koper and Koen Kuijken.

Cum laude PhD In the past year fiour of our PhD candidates were awarded with the distinction cum laude. › Chris Mom, Leiden Institute of Physics › Ben Ruijl, Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science › Marc Baggelaar, Leiden Institute of Chemistry › Hans Kistemaker, Leiden Institute of Chemistry

CHANGSHENG WU was awarded the Jury Award 2016. His thesis – also awarded the distinction cum laude – has an impressively wide and original approach, according to the jury. His research is about the quest for novel antibiotics in a time where current medicines are ineffective due to multi-resistant bacteria. The jury especially praises the discovery of an antibiotic with a not previously documented structure: lugdunomycine.

Winner C.J. Kok Public Award 2016


Clément Bonnerot Leiden Observatory

PHD Thesis Dynamics and Radiation from Tidal Disruption Events

The role black holes - a million to a billion times the mass of our sun - play in the formation and evolution of galaxies remains mysterious, as they are difficult to observe. However, it is estimated that every ten thousand years, one star is captured by a black hole and torn apart. Star debris flares up, indicating the location of a black hole. This is called a ‘tidal disruption event’. Clément Bonnerot’s thesis, studying such a rare event, is a comprehensive and original effort to model the flare production in order to eventually be able to extract physical

information from observations, numerically investigating the evolution of the stellar debris after disruption, and considering general relativistic effects, the impact of the magnetic field and that of the environment.

Frank Buters Leiden Institute of Physics Only small objects such as photons and atoms can perform quantum mechanical tricks, such as being in two places simultaneously. The reason for that remains a mystery. Creation of such superposition states for more massive objects is one route to tackle this problem.

PHD Thesis Where photons meet phonons

In his thesis, Frank Buters set up an experiment that should make it possible to probe these fundamentals of quantum mechanics. By making a tiny movable mirror part of a so-called

Fabry-Perot cavity, radiation pressure can be used to cool the mechanical motion of the mirror. Buters combines this optical cooling with cryogenic techniques to cool the mechanical motion of the mirror to almost the quantum mechanical ground state. Finally, he demonstrates a protocol that enables the mirror to move and not move at the same time, thereby creating the desired superposition state.


C.J. Kok jury Award

StĂŠphanie van der pas Mathematical Institute

PHD Thesis Topics in Mathematical and Applied Statistics

StĂŠphanie van der Pas opens her thesis with a discourse on the estimation of parameters under sparsity constraints, which commonly occur in genetic and astronomical studies. The effectiveness of the Bayesian horseshoe method is proven and its statistical workings and error margins are investigated in great detail. The process is developed into a generalised method that shows that a large class of methods has good properties, leading to a better understanding of the nature and limits of the problem. Methods for fitting data to the stochastic block model are developed, correcting and improving

the standard model, before analysing and implementing a brand new Bayesian method. Finally, a statistical process is introduced that can be adapted to the needs of researchers, allowing for more flexibility in the way we gather data. This leads to an in-depth discussion of the application of statistics in a broader sense. After reviewing statistical methods commonly used in medical trials, methods are developed to take into account more factors than are usually considered, producing a far clearer and more truthful representation of the data than has been achieved before.

Ben Ruijl Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science

PHD Thesis Advances in Computational Methods for Quantum Field Theory Calculations

For twenty-five years, the Standard Model of particle physics has been that field's cornerstone, remaining uncontested and producing no faults. However, it does not account for observations such as dark matter or gravity. New phenomena can only be observed as minute deviations of the model's predictions, necessitating extreme precision in the calculations that produce these predictions. Ben Ruijl studied the computational problems that arise when trying to improve the precision of quantum field theory calculations with respect to

obtaining more precise predictions. He accomplished this by using artificial intelligence to massively simplify physics equations, calculating integrals by means of a new, powerful computer programme and developing a new method to identify divergences in integrals. These methods are demonstrated by calculating the energy dependence of the strong nuclear force to a degree of precision that is entirely without precedent.


Marc Baggelaar Leiden Institute of Chemistry Endocannabinoids have the same effect on our brains as does the active substance in marijuana. Both activate the CB1 receptor in the brain, which is related to energy metabolism. Influencing the signaling process of this receptor is promising in drug development for diseases such as obesity and diabetes. In his thesis, Marc Baggelaar describes how he developed and synthesised compounds that enable visualisation and modulation of the activity of diacylglycerol lipases, which in turn produce 2-arachidonoylglycerol. These substances can be used to analyse

the role of endocannabinoids in the regulation of appetite, pain sensation, memory and anxiety. New tool sets and methods to measure the activity of diacylglycerol lipases are developed, enabling Baggelaar to explore the regulation of endogenous marijuana, and finally, to identify and optimise new inhibitors of diacylglycerol lipases.

PHD Thesis Activity-based Protein Profiling of Diacylglycerol Lipases

Bart Lenselink Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research The health of a human body depends on many chemicals, such as proteins and small molecules. Thus, computational research on these molecules provides an interesting opportunity to aid and speed up drug discovery. In his thesis, Bart Lenselink provides an overview of computational methods, among others for docking and Virtual Screening. The importance of including water molecules in Virtual Screening is demonstrated, and a Virtual Screen is applied with explicit water molecules in the Adenosine A2A receptor. Subsequently, an alternative method

for analysing Virtual Screens, namely by means of Interaction Fingerprints, is introduced and discussed. Lenselink demonstrates that more recent statistical methods, such as deep neural networks, are able to outperform other methods, such as naive Bayesian techniques and random forests. In conclusion, a method for calculating relative binding energy differences called Free Energy Perturbation is introduced, finally yielding a new and very high-affinity ligand for the A2A receptor.

PHD Thesis Clavis Aurea? Structure-enabled approaches of identifying and optimising GPCR ligands


C.J. Kok jury Award

Omid Karami Institute of Biology Leiden

PHD Thesis The role of the Arabidopsis AHL15/REJUVENATOR gene in developmental phase transitions

In his thesis, Omid Karani shows that the AHL15 gene plays a major role in directing plant cell totipotency: the ability of a single cell to divide and produce any cell type. The gene is also important for opening the chromatin, so that genes can be read by the cell machinerie. Karami analyzed both Arabidopsis and tobacco plants and showed that AHL15 acts as a suppressor in plant ageing. Suppression of the gene led to accelerated plant ageing, while overexpression delayed ageing and even rejuvenated some parts of plants. It was discovered that suppressing AHL15

caused an extensive reprogramming of the transcriptome, causing buds to be maintained into the vegetative phase, allowing continued life after seed production in plants that are normally annual.

Guangchao Chen Institute of Environmental Sciences

PHD Thesis The use of computational toxicology in hazard assessment of engineered nanomaterials

The three elements in evaluating the hazards of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) listed by the European Chemicals Agency include the integration and evaluation of toxicity data, the categorization of ENMs, and the derivation of hazard threshold levels for the environment. Due to the time-consuming and resourceintensive nature, and because of ethical considerations regarding experimental assays, the adoption of computational toxicology into the assessment of ENM hazards has recently become a priority. This thesis expands the

use of computational toxicology in the three steps of the hazard assessment of ENMs, i.e. integration and evaluation of nanotoxicity data, identification of research gaps on ENMrelated modelling, and development of predictive models and species sensitivity distributions for ENMs. Guangchao Chen’s study is aimed to take this research field one step forward and contribute to better informed regulatory decisions of metallic ENMs.




We are convinced that students best learn science by experiencing science together and in collaboration with fellow junior and senior scientists. Our vision is that teaching should be research-driven in a challenging, international and diverse academic environment. Our teaching is characterised by small-scale work groups, contact with diverse cultures, and innovative teaching methods. We invest in creating an inclusive teaching environment for students from all backgrounds. As a result, an already appreciable and still growing number of master and PhD students come from abroad. We encourage our students to develop an active and ambitious attitude and train them to become academic professionals and

engaged, responsible citizens. Once graduated, our students will be able to make important contributions to resolving the challenges our society is currently facing - within as well as outside of academia. Our vision on teaching and learning is the basis for our current teaching agenda as well as for implementing teaching innovations now and in the coming years.

33rd edition of the Leiden Science career event With a record number of participating companies and students, the 33rd Betabanenmarkt (science jobs market) was a great success. More than a thousand students had their CV checked, participated in workshops or went on speed dates with one of the more than fifty companies, all to get informed about future career opportunities. A photographer took professional profile pictures for LinkedIn.

First joint degree diplomas This year, for the first time, Delft-Leiden diplomas were awarded to students who completed their Life Science & Technology (LST) or Molecular Science & Technology (MST) programme. Both studies are joint ventures between TU Delft and Leiden University; previously, students received a degree from either of the universities for administrative reasons.



Bachelor Mathematics programme labelled as excellent Once again, the Keuzegids Universiteiten (the guide to optional courses of Dutch universities) has proclaimed our bachelor's degree in Mathematics as a top programme. The students themselves are also performing well: at the prestigious International Mathematics Competition in the Bulgarian city of Blagoevgrad, Leiden University's team won a gold medal for the first time.

Programming with qubits Students of the Leiden University master programme Computer Science are the first students in the world that have been educated in programming with a quantum computer. The structure of this course is much more practical than that of previous courses in quantum computing. Students now get a much better understanding of how lifelike problems can be solved with a quantum computer.


Buddy programme for international students To give new international students a good start in their studies at our faculty, we created the Leiden Science Buddy Programme. New international students are linked to a current student, who guides them and is their first point of contact for all kinds of practical questions that arise during the first months in a new country.

Photo credit: Peter van Bodegom

Winter school Indonesia This year, twelve Leiden and twelve Indonesian students jointly followed a winter school programme on Java, Indonesia. This joint winter school entails a mutual exchange of ideas and expertise between the two universities. For Leiden University, this course is part of the interdisciplinary minor on Sustainable Development. Through lectures and field work, students were introduced to tropical biodiversity in Indonesia and the principles of sustainable development.


Faculty Award for Teaching

Faculty Award for Teaching Research and education are closely interwoven in our faculty. Excellent education is indispensable to successfully translate research findings into highquality educational programmes on the bachelor’s and master’s levels, and of great importance to stimulate and to enthuse students for science. Therefore, in addition to the C.J. Kok Awards for excellent research, the faculty also confers an annual Award for Teaching. The voice of our students is of great importance in this election. Student members of the educational committees nominate their favorite teacher; the chairs of the study associations and the assessor from the Faculty Board form the jury and decide who will be awarded the Faculty Award for Teaching.

2017 This year, nine of our teaching staff members were nominated by their students - some of them for the second time in a row! The jury has assessed al the nominees on the following three criteria: › Didactic skills; › The ways in which the teacher establishes connections between the course and recent developments in relevant fields of research; › The ways in which the educator teaches from a multidisciplinary perspective and connects his/ her own research field with other fields within the (natural) sciences.

Frank Takes, computer scientist at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science, was granted the award for teaching in 2016. The jury chose Takes as best teacher for the courses Social Network Analysis for Computer Scientists and Business Intelligence and Process Modelling. The appreciation of his students is mainly based on his lucid, newly developed teaching materials and his clear communication.

Winner Faculty Award for Teaching 2016


Huib Jan van Langevelde Leiden Observatory Huib Jan van Langevelde has developed an innovative course including guest lecturers, tutorial sessions and projects. In the projects, students work with recent data collected at world-class radio arrays, thus creating reports of real scientific findings. The course also includes a field trip. Although his students have a thorough Nominated for the course Radio Astronomy of the master’s programme Astronomy

background in electromagnetic phenomena, Van Langevelde observes that most of them do not know how a radio (telescope) really works. For this reason he would spend the prize money on a demonstration system, with which he would illustrate simple radio principles in his lectures.

‘Radio astronomy 2017 was also a success thanks to my colleague Huib Intema and our classroom assistants Josh Albert and Soumyajit Mandal.’

Jan van Ruitenbeek Leiden Institute of Physics Jan van Ruitenbeek shows exceptional skill in constructing and teaching complete courses. He has an incredible talent for making difficult topics comprehensible and is able to intrigue and interest students. His dynamic teaching style, in combination with interactive elements such as quizzes, makes his courses interesting for students. Nominated for the courses Electromagnetic Fields and Classical Mechanics B of the bachelor’s programme Physics

During his tutorials, Van Ruitenbeek is aided by motivated and talented teaching assistants. In order to preserve the quality of the tutorials in the future, he would employ the prize money to set up a fund for an annual prize of 200 Euro for the best teaching assistant.

‘Lecturing is an interaction. The students’ enthusiasm is every bit as important as that of the lecturer.’


Faculty Award for Teaching

Tim van erven Mathematical Institute Tim van Erven’s engagement with students, attention to their needs, and intuition for their success have made his course a cornerstone of the master’s programme. At the end of his course, students leave with a renewed excitement and desire to dive deeper into the methods learned. His course has helped to make the programme a Nominated for the course Statistical Learning of the Statistical Science master’s programme

strong competitor in a growing market for statisticians and data scientists. Next year, Van Erven will also have data science students attending his lectures. He would stake the prize money to employ a teaching assistant to find out whether each student learns as much as the others. He would use the outcome of this analysis to improve his lectures.

‘In my lectures I use the blackboard. That may sound old-fashioned, but students are able to fathom formulae better this way.’

Floske Spieksma Mathematical Institute

Nominated for Stochastic Operations Research, Combinatorics and Network Optimisation, Linear optimisation and Stochastic processes

Mathematics can be a very abstract subject, but Floske Spieksma always finds ways to make her lectures fun and comprehensive. A lot of her examples are real-life problems and in them she combines the course subject with other disciplines. During her lectures she creates an open and relaxed atmosphere, making students feel at ease so they do not hesitate to ask questions.

In addition to teaching, she assists bachelor’s and master’s students with their theses, which they very much appreciate. Speiksma would either spend the prize money on an iPad with which she could comment on students’ dissertations efficiently and without wasting paper, or she would spend it on a teaching assistant who could help put together new assignments for her field, which is optimisation.

‘My focus is to give students a sound mathematical basis and practical problem-solving skills to help them become successful practitioners.’


Kristiaan Rietveld Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science Kristian Rietveld teaches technically involved subjects and has ambitious goals. He is an enthusiastic presenter, with an ear and eye for the students' needs. Some of the courses he teaches might traditionally belong to the less popular ones in the curriculum, but Rietveld has managed to turn the sentiment.

If Rietveld wins the Teaching Award, he wants to purchase a circuit board with chip for his field Computer architecture. He could use it to show his students how a piece of hardware can execute instructions which students first converted into a machine code themselves. According to Rietveld, this contributes to a better understanding, motivation and satisfaction on the part of the students.

‘Students do not learn from ready-made answers. They learn the most when we help them unravel the subject matter.’

Nominated for the courses Programming techniques, Computer architecture and Operating systems of the bachelor’s programme Computer Science

Sylvestre Bonnet Leiden Institute of Chemistry Sylvestre Bonnet is an enthusiastic teacher who is not only ready to answer questions from his students during his lectures, but also after. He has a keen eye for good interaction in the classroom and he makes sure his lessons are clear and interesting. He integrates concepts from other fields in his lectures on a regular

basis. This is why he provides crash courses in which students can easily recover their knowledge. Among other things, Sylvestre Bonnet would use the prize money to develop a website on photochemotherapy both for his students and for the general public. Bonnet was also nominated for the Faculty Teaching Award in 2013.

‘A teacher should share his enthusiasm, impart scientific knowledge and culture and, if possible, help students develop into responsible adults.’

Nominated for the courses Metals and Life and Photochemistry of the master’s programme Chemistry


Faculty Award for Teaching

Nora Goosen Leiden Institute of Chemistry Nora Goosen’s lectures are a source of inspiration for students. Her explanation is lucid, her presentation is carefully tended and she alternates her story with animations, motion pictures and demonstrations. She also talks about her own research and new discoveries in her field, which makes her lectures lively. Nominated for the courses Life sciences and Molecular genetics & genetic engineering of the bachelor’s programme Life Science & Technology

Goosen looks beyond her own fields. For example, she makes sure that the molecules that she discusses in her lectures are also dealt with in a chemistry lecture, so that they are being elucidated from different angles. Goosen would donate the prize money to the annual study trip because she finds this a very important activity from an educational viewpoint.

‘I am honoured to be nominated for the Teaching Award yet again, in the year before I retire.’

Liesbeth de Lange Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research

Nominated for the course Blood brain barrier – Drug transport to the brain of the master’s programme Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences

Liesbeth de Lange’s lectures are not only interactive and well-taught, her students also find her lessons fun and inspiring. She provides clear outlines and course material for her students, so that they know what to expect at their exams. De Lange is also strongly involved in the general organisation of the educational programme. She has put major effort into evaluating and improving education and trying to support students’ needs and wishes.

With the prize money, De Lange would organise a full-day master class for students who are interested, during which an expert in the field would give a guest lecture and then take ample time to start a discussion with the students. Through the master class, De Lange wants to take the students to a higher level, giving them insights by letting them look at a subject from a new perspective.

‘Our students deserve enthusiastic teachers who share their expertise with passion and incite students to discussion.’


Michiel Hooykaas Institute of Biology Leiden Students praise Michiel Hooykaas for his well-structured and engaging courses. His lectures include anecdotes and video’s that stick in students’ minds. Even in the lab he interweaves various teaching methods, such as the use of (short) presentations and quizzes. He also uses examples from other domains in order to make students aware of the relationship between various fields of research.

Hooykaas adapts his way of teaching to the students’ needs. He has thought for which teaching methods yield the best results and he lets the students work on their writing and presentation skills. If he should win the Teaching Award, Hooykaas wants to give his students a voice in how the prize money should be used.

‘When teaching I like to use a diverse set of science communication skills to inspire students.’

Nominated for the courses Biodiversity Animal and Biology of the Organism Animal of the Biology bachelor’s programme

Study Associations All programmes of our faculty are represented by five study associations. These study associations greatly contribute to the connection of the students and alumni with each other and with our faculty. The study associations organise all sorts of activities that offer students the opportunity to enrich their student life.

L.P.S.V. Aesculapius

Leidse Biologen Club

Chemisch Dispuut Leiden


De Leidsche Flesch

science & society

Academic institutions are of vital importance to our society. Universities are breeding grounds for innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship. Research and education at universities do not take place in a vacuum: they have direct impact on society in many ways. windows on science with fun initiatives such as the mural formulas scattered through the City of Leiden. The Junior Science Lab, Universe Awareness Programme and our Living Lab bring science into classrooms of primary and secondary schools, encouraging the young generation to be curious and open-minded and to enjoy the magic of science.

Our research leads to innovation and new products and patents in various areas. It helps finding solutions to societal challenges and supports societal issues in several ways, with our sports data research being only one example. We broadly disseminate new insights and achievements through events and lectures for a broad and diverse audience, and by opening

UNAWE Universe Awareness (UNAWE) is an international education programme that takes astronomy to disadvantaged children in over sixty countries. In 2017, UNAWE was recognised as one of ‘HundrED's 100’ Global Inspiring Innovations in Education for their innovative approach to ensure that teachers and parents around the world will have excellent educational material available for making children aware of the Universe and achieving its two goals: to show that science and technology are exciting and to foster the spirit of world citizenship.

This outdoor laboratory has partly been made possible by a successful crowdfunding campaign. The 38 separate ditches were dug in November 2016, and were officially opened in 2017. The Living Lab is not only a research facility, it also offers room for education to enthuse children for nature and research. Together with Technolab, the Living Lab organises weekly school class visits in which they teach young children about research and nature in a playful manner.

Photo credit: UNAWE/ JAna Polednikova

Living Lab


Ladies’ Days in Physics, Astronomy and Computer Science

Photo credit: Liesbeth Dingemans

Every year, Leiden University organises Ladies’ Days together with VHTO (National expert organization on girls/women and science/technology), especially for girls. What originally started in Leiden as the Ladies’ Physics Day is joined by astronomy and computer science this year. Ladies’ Days serve to let girls in 5th and 6th grade of pre-university education (Dutch vwo) get acquainted with an academic study in astronomy, physics or computer science. During the event, girls learn more about what these studies comprise, and what possible future job opportunities there are. They also get to know (female) students, staff and alumni.

science & society

Human-wildlife interaction Photo credit: KNVB/Media

Approximately 2,000 Kenyan lions share their country with a growing human and livestock population. Both a growing demand for land and climate change have a severe impact on the lion population: their number is decreasing. Although lions are mostly found inside national parks, they also regularly leave parks and enter the human-dominated landscape. Here, people and livestock are confronted with the lions. During a ten-year-lasting cooperation between the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), researchers and students used satellite collaring on lions in order to get GPS data about movements, diet, and social structure of the lion populations. This information is now used for science-based management and conservation by KWS, resulting in a unique combination of university research and practical conservation management.

To be able to perform optimally in top-class sport, optimal conditions are essential. Super computers offer help. The KNVB and scientists from Leiden University’s Sport Data Center cooperate under the flag of Sportinnovator. This programme aims to stimulate cooperation between sports, businesses, the authorities, and sciences. Last summer, a large data research project provided the background of the European Football Championship for Women. With the use of extreme computing power, all matches were evaluated from a mathematical point of view, looking at players as if they were moving parts. The data research is expected to uncover links that have thus far remained hidden in order to enlarge the output of knowledge and innovation in sports, and ultimately aims to answer the question of what it requires of a sports professional to perform at the highest level or, in other words, to reveal the so-called Golden Standard.

Photo credit: Francis Lesilau

Data science for sports professionals


Math trail A fun and informative initiative to explore the beauty of mathematics even more is the Math trail, developed as part of a final project of the master’s specialisation Science Communication and Society of Leiden University. The trail starts and ends at the Boerhaave Museum and leads through the Leiden city centre, showing all of the city’s highlights while offering a variety of challenging mathematical questions. The trail both shows how much math can be hidden in a city and teaches us about the history of it.

Photo credit: Hielco Kuipers

Wall Formulas When you stroll around the historic centre of Leiden, you will find beautiful poems painted on random walls in the most exotic languages. These poems are now accompanied by ‘poems’ in the language of mathematics: formulas. Each formula has a direct connection with Leiden city’s impressive history in scientific discoveries. In 2017, three new wall paintings were added: the formulas for Lorentz contraction, Oort constants and electron spin. Visitors and inhabitants may now come across six formulas. The wall formulas are spread across the Leiden city centre and are painted by the artists of Stichting tegen-Beeld.

science & society

Natuurwetenschappelijk Gezelschap Leiden (NGL) The alumni network NGL, freely translated as the Leiden Society for Natural Sciences, has close bonds with the Faculty of Science. Founded in 1870 by enthusiastic Leiden professors, the NGL organises lectures and excursions about socially relevant topics from a scientific point of view. Eminent speakers in the past year were professor Miranda van Eck and professor Joost Kok, among others. The collaboration with the Faculty of Science and NGL was formally established in 2015, and was renewed in 2017, enabling the NGL community to flourish further and to broaden the Faculty’s activities for our alumni.

Another Leiden alumni association in its broadest sense is the VO-S, the association for former Leiden Astronomy members. Anyone, from student to staff member, who once was, or still is, connected with the Leiden Observatory is welcome to become a member. The VO-S organises a diverse range of events on recent developments in astronomy, from scientific lectures to community events. They also accommodate each year’s Oort lecture. In 2017, VO-S organised the Oort lecture held by professor Andrei Linde (Stanford University); he is one of the inventors of the theory of chaotic inflation.

Photo credit: Martijn van der Nat

Vereniging van OudSterrewachters (VO-S)


The Hortus botanicus Leiden, founded in 1590, is the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world. The Hortus is a renowned institute for it’s plant collection and (living) plant research. It’s mission is to manage the plant collection for research and education purposes as well as for public interest and enjoyment. In November, the 175.000th visitor in 2017 was welcomed: an all-time high. The Hortus remains strongly rooted in its scientific mission: Hortus prefect Paul Kessler delivered his inaugural lecture as professor by special appointment of Botanical gardens and botany of South East Asia in April. Consequently, the systematic garden which was established in 2005 underwent a complete revision. It now represents the latest scientific insights in the field of plant classification, made understandable for a wide variety of visitors, from researchers to school classes.

Photo credit: Marc de Haan

Hortus botanicus

Lorentz Center The Lorentz Center is an international centre that coordinates and hosts workshops, based on the philosophy that science thrives on interaction between researchers. This year, the Lorentz Center celebrated her 20th anniversary. For two decades, the Center has facilitated international groups of academics to examine a single scientific problem. The focus lies on deliberation, brainstorming and sharing ideas in a relaxed setting. They do this in workshops that can last up to five days and can be about anything. Many concentrate on the future of a discipline. Participants work on a joint research agenda that aims to result in a grant application. Since 2010, sessions for academics and industry were added. In 2017, 84 workshops were hosted for more than 3000 academics from over 50 countries.

facts & figures



Staff 2017


Full professors


PhD candidates



assistant & associate professors


Guest Phd candidates




phd defenses



Students 2017



2678 students



intake bachelor students 2017

Master students


intake master students 2017**

Total students*

* Including students Joint Degree LST ** Enrollments in September 2017

Financial Facts 2016 in Kâ‚Ź

Total Turnover


â‚Ź 117,331

Direct Funding

Research funding

â‚Ź 67,590





Other external (research) funding

â‚Ź 11,814

National funding comprises funding from NWO, KNAW and STW


Diplomas 2016-2017

Total Cum Laude Summa Cum Laude

Propedeuses in one year




Honours College

449 78 10

586 74 14

450 36 4

439 89 9

42 18 -


About us




25 mins by car/train Schiphol airport

1815 - 2017 PARIS


1 hr 15 mins

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1 hr 5 mins


2 hrs 10 mins


35 mins by car/train For an overview of our awards and prizes in 2017 visit www.universiteitleiden.nl/ Rotterdam The Hague airport science-talents-and-discoveries/facts-figures





> > > > > >

> Peking University > Tsinghua University

Joint degrees with TU Delft: > Bachelor programme Life Science & Technology > Bachelor programme Molecular Science & Technology > Master programme Industrial Ecology

Leiden Bio Science Park LDE Centre for BOLD Cities LDE Centre for Sustainability LDE Medical Delta Leiden University Medical Centre Leiden University Campus The Hague


> > > > > >

Bandung Institute of Technology Bogor Agricultural University Universitas Gadjah Mada Universitas Indonesia Mulawarman University Padjadjaran University

facts & figures

leiden & Leiden University Photo credit: Halan Tran | Summer picture contest Leiden University


Leiden University

> 123,924 residents, one in 12 is a student > Historical city centre > 6,5 km ring of canals in original state > Birth town of famous Dutch painters like Rembrandt and Jan Steen > Leiden Bio Science Park with 106 biomedical companies and the largest number of bioscience start-ups in the Netherlands > Close to the beach, Schiphol airport and only a few hours from other European Cities such a London, Paris and Rome.

> Broad range of research: Fundamentals of science, Life sciences, Health and wellbeing, Law, politics and administration, Languages, cultures and societies > Founded in 1575, oldest university of the Netherlands > 600 professors > 15 Nobel prizes > 21 Spinoza prizes > 26,900 students > 96,000 alumni



Leiden Science ‘Our Talents and Discoveries in 2017’ Editorial team Annette Heijn, Dennis Hoencamp, Jeroen Scharroo, Marjolein van Schoonhoven, Geert de Snoo, Han de Winde. Contributing writers Annette Heijn, Robbert Folmer, Jeroen Scharroo, Marjolein van Schoonhoven, Geert de Snoo. Photo credits Page 8 Gorlaeus Building: Stijn Poelstra Page 9 Science Run: Jordy Kortekaaas Page 18 Garth Dales: Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Lancaster University Page 18 Renata Kallosh: Andrei Linde Page 18 Imke de Pater: Stefanie Uit den Boogaard All other photographs, including portraits of the C.J. Kok Public Award 2017 nominees and the Faculty Award for Teaching 2017 nominees: Pim Rusch.

English language editing Heleen Rusch Design Balyon, www.balyon.com Production UFB Contact Faculty of Science, Leiden University Marketing and Communications department P.O. Box 9502 2300 RA the Netherlands publications@science.leidenuniv.nl +31 71 527 1928


Science Research in 2016 > Prizes & Honours

Faculty of Science P.O. Box 9502 2300 RA Leiden 071 527 69 90 www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/science



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