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Faculty of Science

Leiden Science

Our Talents & Discoveries


The Board of the Faculty of Science Bas Schaalje Assessor, Dirkje Schinkelshoek Executive Director, Hubertus Irth Dean, Bart de Smit Vice Dean

Content We Are Science

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Research 13 Education

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Science & Society

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Facts & Figures

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Leiden & Leiden University

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Yearly Awards

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Contributing writers Bryce Benda, Hilde Pracht, Jeroen Scharroo, Marjolein van Schoonhoven, Willy van Strien, Bruno van Wayenburg, Dorine Schenk, Joris Jansen, Ron van Veen

Photo credits See universiteitleiden.nl/ science-talents-and-discoveries

English language editing Heleen van den Berg

Design Creja ontwerpen


In this 17th edition of Our Talents and Discoveries we take you on a trip to last year’s discoveries and breakthroughs at our Faculty. But first and foremost, we introduce you to our people, who worked hard all year on knowledge for a better society with their top research and education. For example, we are proud of the university-wide research areas

Our education also continues to grow. In 2019, we welcomed 1,300

of data science and artificial intelligence. Our Faculty plays an

first-year bachelor’s students, compared to 1,000 a year earlier. The

important role in these areas, first of all through the indispensable

intake of master’s students also rose, with a lot of transfer from our

input of our computer scientists and mathematicians. In addition, the

own bachelor’s degrees and more than 300 new international students

applications from the entire breadth of our university - life science,

in September. Another special feature is that the new master’s in

law and linguistics - make these lines of research so inspiring and

Governance of Sustainability immediately started with 50 students.

comprehensive, and they contribute to a healthy and sustainable society.

In addition, we continue to build on our inclusive and diverse work

We are also working hard on this in other areas. In the field of

environment. In the coming period, for example, we may fill 22 new

sustainability, our people study and develop new forms of clean energy,

scientific positions in the context of the Dutch sector plans: our goal is

and devise strategies for smart use of materials and for ensuring a clean

that 50 percent of them will be filled by women.

and safe environment. As from 1 January 2020, we will be heading confidently into a new For example, we work on health in the field of drug discovery, in which

Science year under the leadership of our new dean Michiel Kreutzer,

our various disciplines come together. This provides new fundamental

after Geert de Snoo left us as dean after seven years. We hope you enjoy

insights into disease mechanisms, chemical and physical knowledge

reading about our past year.

about candidate medications, and insight into the distribution and functioning of drugs in the body.

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We are science

Our community

Staff

63 Nationalities

4

STAFF FACULTY OF SCIENCE* Total

2384

* End 2019 excluding guests and PhD Students

DUTCH 70%

STAFF MEMBERS

OTHER 30%

250+

FEMALE

36%

11-50

MALE

64%

0

51-250 1-10


We are science

Our community

Students

BSC & MSC STUDENTS FACULTY OF SCIENCE

PHD STUDENTS FACULTY OF SCIENCE

end 2019 of all

DUTCH 85%

DUTCH 40%

students in our

OTHER 15%

OTHER 60%

201+

FEMALE

40%

FEMALE

41%

11-50

MALE

60%

MALE

59%

0

82

Nationalities

faculty.

STUDENTS 51-200 1-10

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We are science

Our People

Employees of our support services ensure that our staff and students are able to work happily and with dedication day after day. An essential basis, including well-appointed and accessible buildings, inspiring workplaces, safe laboratories, adequate administration of student results and confirming support, is of key importance to our daily practice. All colleagues from our support departments are therefore very much appreciated. In this edition we put a spotlight on the employees of the Human Resource Management and the Finance and Projects departments.

Human Resource Management The Human Resource Management department advises the organisation and its managers on goals and ambitions. Together with managers and employees, it ensures that the right person has the right job, that professional development is guaranteed, and that people are acknowledged and rewarded. ‘I’m proud of our diverse team that harvests a lot of brainpower and creativity. It’s great that we can use our abilities to help the institutes and the Faculty Board,’ says Valérie HéraudLagro, Head of the department.

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With a team of 14 colleagues, the Finance and Projects department is

but also about possible windfalls and setbacks now and in future years,

responsible for the financial management of the Faculty. ‘We want to be

and how to deal with them. The Faculty of Science is Leiden University’s

a sparring partner for the institutes and the Faculty Board,’ says Head

largest Faculty in terms of number of institutes, project income, and

Karin van den Elzen, who recently joined Leiden University. ‘This is

material costs, which makes our work exciting and full of technical

about good registration of costs and revenues, including the projects,

challenges.’

We are science

Finance and Projects

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A committed dean bids farewell On 29 August 2019, the Faculty of Science bade their Dean Geert de Snoo farewell. Colleagues praised De Snoo for his great achievements as a director and his pleasant collaboration style. Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker says: ‘With Geert, the content is paramount, never the emotion. He was a wonderful director to work with: for the academic directors within the Faculty, but also for us as the Board of Governors.’ There are also positive sounds outside of Leiden. With Kurt Deketelaere, professor at the KU in Leuven, De Snoo founded the group for Natural Sciences Deans within the League of European Research Universities (LERU). ‘As chairman, Geert succeeded in

A new enthusiastic director takes office On 1 January 2020, Michiel Kreutzer became the new Dean

quickly putting the beta deans at LERU and in Brussels on the

of the Faculty of Science. Until that time, he was Depart-

map with important papers on collaborative research and research

mental Director of Chemical Engineering and Director of

infrastructures, among others,’ said Deketelaere.

Education at the Faculty of Applied Sciences at TU Delft.

De Snoo continues his career as director of the Netherlands Institute

In his research, Kreutzer (MSc Groningen, PhD Delft) focuses on mechanics

of Ecology and remains professor of Conservation Biology in Leiden.

of liquids and physical transport phenomena, in particular for so-called lab-

From September through December, Hubertus Irth took over his

on-a-chip applications, and on chemical reactor engineering. He has been

decan duties ad interim, in addition to his position as scientific

a professor at TU Delft since 2008, where he held various board positions

director of the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research.

since 2013. In addition to his research and management positions, Kreutzer also teaches in the Molecular Science and Technology degree programme in Leiden, for which he was elected teacher of the year several times. Nationally, he is active in the top sector Chemistry and NWO, among others. Kreutzer is known as an enthusiastic and driven university director and connector. Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker: ‘Michiel not only has an excellent scientific record, but with his managerial experience and network, he will also give excellent leadership to our wonderful Science Faculty. Our discussions also showed how motivated he is to make new connections and to further expand existing collaborations of the Faculty.’

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Science PhD Day Morning yoga, a resume check at the information market, or dancing for inclusiveness: just a small selection of the activities on the first Science PhD Day in April 2019. Around 120 PhD candidates from all eight institutes of our Faculty attended the day, which started off with five different workshops. Many participants opted for a sporty start with ‘Morning yoga at the office’. Others participated in an inclusivity training aimed at connecting with and relating to others. ‘This turned out to be a very interactive There were also workshops about dealing with stress and the grey areas of science, and world-renowned physicist Carlo Beenakker gave advice on applying for jobs in the scientific world. During lunch, PhD candidates from all institutes were given the opportunity to exchange experiences. There was also a lunchtime information market, comprising fourteen stands at which they could discover what facilities the University has to offer. For example, the candidates could have their resume checked by Science Career Services, and learn about

We are science

course in which we even went dancing and singing,’ one participant said afterwards.

outreach possibilities and the Leiden University mentor network. After two more rounds of workshops, the day was wrapped up with drinks, during which visitors could speed date with former PhD candidates. A successful first edition of the event, both visitors and organisers concluded, that from now on will return annually.

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Young Faculty of Science Being an assistant professor can be rather solitary. Often, you do not have your own research group, and you lack the extensive network that associate professors or professors have. Assistant professors Yamila Miguel and Stéphanie van der Pas decided to change just that, and set up the Young Faculty of Science. Miguel: ‘We have created an informal platform where assistant professors can get to know each other better, for example during lunches. This has the additional effects of new collaborations and a strengthened network of young scientists.’ Van der Pas adds that many assistant professors are struggling to prioritise within their job. ‘Should I focus on my own research? On applying for grants? Or on supervising PhD students? It is nice to be able to discuss these matters with someone in the same career phase, and to exchange experiences.’ Many assistant professors are also enthusiastic about the idea of working together with kindred spirits outside their field, she continues. ‘But how do you make that first contact? The Young Faculty of Science offers a good opportunity to do that, since there is a great deal of expertise within our Faculty to connect to.’

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Women and Girls in Science Day On Saturday 9 February 2019, we celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in Leiden! It was a festive day, including contributions from famous physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf and astrophysicist Ewine van Dishoeck, and numerous fascinating workshops and exciting experiments. On this day, we celebrated the role of women in science and introduced young girls to the field. About 250 women and girls, Gorlaeus Building. The day started and ended with plenary sessions from Kavli Prize winner Ewine van Dishoeck and brand-new Leiden Honorary Doctor Robbert Dijkgraaf, but also included presentations by Jacqueline Prins ‒ Director Gender and LGBTI Equality at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science ‒ and computer science researcher Félienne Hermans. In between these sessions, visitors were given the opportunity to experience science themselves in workshops and DIY activities such as programming,

We are science

but also male visitors, attended the festive programme at the

watching a science show, or dressing up like a real professor.

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Leiden Science Run During the Leiden Science Run 2019, a record number of 101 teams raised a record amount of 12,135 euros. All the money went to the Scholars at Risk programme of the UAF, a foundation for refugee students. This programme protects threatened scientists and offers them a safe academic environment. The Leiden Science Run is a sponsored relay race with teams of four runners. Referring to the special 444th anniversary of Leiden University, each team member had to run 4.44 kilometres across the Bio Science Park in Leiden and Oegstgeest. In addition to the 25-euro registration fee, each team raised as much sponsoring money as they could. UAF Director Mardjan Seighali, who also participated in the run: ‘We are grateful for the fantastic support. Freedom of thought, freedom of research, and the protection of scientists is extremely important.’ New to the 4th edition were the sponsors: Janssen Biologics B.V. and CORPUS both sponsored the Science Run. Furthermore, the teams were more diverse than ever before, with participants from the LUMC, the Faculties of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Humanities, Law, and Governance and Global Affairs in The Hague. Also, many companies from the Leiden Bio Science Park, such as BaseClear B.V., Mimetas, ZoBio B.V. and DuPont participated ‒ and, last but not least, running club LUHV Currimus, which again delivered the fastest team. 12


Research profile Faculty of Science We are eager to share the results of our research and the insights of our scientists with society. In our research dossiers, we present a cross section of the research of our eight institutes, from fundamental to applied, in an accessible way. We highlight, for example, our sustainability research, in which groups of scientists from various disciplines study and develop clean forms of energy, devise strategies for smart handling of materials and for ensuring a clean and safe environment. We also contribute to a healthy society through, for example, our work on drug discovery. Our multidisciplinary approach provides physical knowledge about drug candidates and insight into the distribution and functioning of drugs in the body. Our latest research dossier is artificial intelligence, which, like data science, is a field in which our computer scientists and mathematicians play a key role. But they also collaborate closely with colleagues from all other faculties of our university. It’s these applications that makes this line of research so inspiring and comprehensive, and through which we furthermore contribute to a healthy and sustainable society.

Artificial Intelligence Automation started with the first computers, 70 years ago. Now we are entering the era of automation of automation: computers that learn from experience and improve their own software. The world is changing. Researchers from various disciplines at Leiden University are working on artificial intelligence that will enrich human intelligence. Sustainable Development Goals: Good health and well-being – Affordable and clean

Research

new fundamental insights into disease mechanisms, chemical and

energy – Sustainable cities and communities

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Research dossiers

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Renewable Energy

Effective Drug Development

Keeping the Planet Livable

What will tomorrow’s fuel be? Scientists

From molecule to drug; fundamental and

This dossier provides insights and

think that in 2050, the transition from

clinical knowledge is needed to develop

solutions for both the present and the

fossil energies to new sustainable

new, groundbreaking drugs. Physicians,

future. How can we organise society

sources of energy will be completed.

pharmacists, biochemists, chemists and

so as to keep our planet habitable for

Scientists from various disciplines of

mathematicians from Leiden University

ourselves and all other life forms around

Leiden University conduct unique

and Leiden University Medical Center

us? Leiden researchers collaborate across

research that contributes to this search

work closely together in the hunt for the

disciplines, from biology to data science,

for new sources of sustainable energy

clues and building blocks that could lead

and from environmental economy to

and CO2 reduction.

the way to new drugs.

archeology, to answer this question.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development Goals:

Sustainable Development Goals:

Goals: Affordable and clean

Good health and well-being – Industry,

Sustainable cities and communities –

energy – Industry, innovation and

innovation and infrastructure –

Climate action – Life on land

infrastructure – Climate action

Climate action


Data Science

The Quantum Computer

From the Big Bang to life-bearing

Researchers across the entire scientific

The worldwide race to the quantum

planets, astronomers want to understand

spectrum – including linguistics, the

computer is in full swing. This computer

every aspect of the Universe. In Leiden

environment, medicine, astronomy

can take on tasks that we can only

they focus on two key questions: ‘How

and biology – are increasingly looking

dream of today. Leiden physicists have

did stars and planets originate’ and ‘How

into smarter ways for searching data.

discovered how the Majorana particle

were galaxies and black holes formed in

A global revolution is taking place in

can be used as a building block for

the young Universe?’ A new generation

the field of data science, and Leiden

this quantum computer. Together with

of telescopes will help them find the

University is a major academic hub for

research groups in Delft, they hope to

answers. Maybe they will even detect

this discipline in the Netherlands.

build the first quantum computer.

Sustainable Development Goals:

Sustainable Development Goals:

Sustainable Development Goals:

Good health and well-being –

Good health and well-being

Quality education

Reduced inequalities – Life on land

– Affordable and clean energy –

signs of life on other planets.

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Research

Exploring the Universe

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Our Institutes

Leiden Observatory (STRW)

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, both 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, for it is presumably the largest worldclass PhD programme in astrophysics across the globe. Research programmes: Galaxies and the structures in which they are embedded - Exo-planets, and forming stars and planets Education: Astronomy (BSc & MSc)

Astronomers see two planets vacuuming around young star Scientists led by Leiden astronomer Sebastiaan Haffert have directly imaged two planets that are gravitationally carving out a wide gap within a planet-forming disk surrounding a young star. While over a dozen exoplanets have been directly imaged so far, this is only the second multi-planet system to be photographed. This is also the first time that planets have been photographed that are still growing by accreting material from the disk. The 16

results were published in Nature Astronomy.


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. In addition, LION is a member of The Dutch Research School for Theoretical Physics, which was reviewed as excellent during the last visitation. The institute currently houses four Spinoza Prize Laureates. Research programmes: Biological, Soft and Complex Systems Quantum Matter and Optics - Cosmology - Theoretical Physics Education: Physics (BSc & MSc)

How can a single origami crease pattern be folded into two precisely defined target shapes? Researchers from the Leiden Institute of Physics and research institute AMOLF and have created an ‘alphabet’ of 140 origami ‘puzzle pieces’ that allows them to do just that. This

Research

Alphabet of 140 puzzle pieces programs origami

discovery could help in the construction of origami robots and towards designing smart programmable materials. The work was published in Nature Physics. 17


Mathematical Institute (MI)

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. Research programmes: Algebra, Geometry and Number Theory Analysis and Dynamical Systems - Probability Theory Statistical Science Education: Mathematics (BSc & MSc) - Statistical Science for the Life and Behavioural Sciences (MSc)

Cryptographic approach demands revision PhD student Max Fillinger studied an approach to cryptography that exploits the bound on how fast information can be exchanged as determined by the speed of light. This so-called ‘relativistic’ approach to cryptography was already proposed in the late nineties but deemed completely impractical; Fillinger’s results show that this early pessimism needs to be revised.

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Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) With six programmes, our Computer Science research spans an impressive width. Currently, LIACS is strongly committed to expanding and strengthening its Artificial Intelligence research and education. 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. Research programmes: Algorithms and Programming - Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning - Data Science - Systems and Security - Vision and Imaging - Creative Intelligence Education: Computer Science (BSc & MSc) - Specialisation Artificial Intelligence (BSc) - Specialisation Bioinformatics Specialisation Computer Science & Economy - ICT in Business and the Public Sector (MSc) - Media Technology (MSc)

Bridge between artificial intelligence and quantum physics built a unique bridge between artificial intelligence and quantum physics. They showed that a reinforcement learning system can be used to design new quantum experiments. ‘In this case, we tasked the system to

Research

Computer scientist Vedran Djunko and his colleagues

design quantum optical experiments which would generate complex quantum states’, Dunjko tells. The paper was published in PNAS and was recognised with the Cozzarelli Prize for outstanding papers in 2019.

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Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC)

To contribute fundamental knowledge to important societal issues such as sustainable energy and health and disease, our chemistry institute focuses on two research programmes. 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. Research programmes: Energy and Sustainability Chemical Biology Education: Molecular Science & Technology* (BSc) - Life Science & Technology* (BSc & MSc) - Chemistry (MSc) * together with TU Delft

Exceptionally efficient catalyst for hydrogen peroxide production Research of the Leiden Institute of Chemistry into the development of a sustainable fuel cell has resulted in an exceptionally efficient catalyst for the production of hydrogen peroxide. The catalyst, discovered by Dennis Hetterscheid and PhD candidate Michiel Langerman, may lead to a more sustainable production of hydrogen peroxide. The results were published in 20

Angewandte Chemie.


Leiden Academic Centre 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 organ-on-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 bachelor’s and master’s programmes Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences are in high demand with (international) students. Research programmes: BioTherapeutics - Drug Discovery & Safety - Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology Education: Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSc & MSc)

The LACDR explores the potential of microneedles as a tool for the painless administration of vaccines through the skin. Are these minuscule needles really effective? The groups of Joke Bouwstra and Wim Jiskoot investigated various factors to determine the

Research

One step closer to pain-free vaccinations

best was to administer vaccine via microneedles. They discovered, among other things, that injection depth is not important and that it is better to spread the vaccine dose over several days.

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Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL)

Both the general research quality and the PhD programme of the Institute of Biology Leiden are world class, according to the last visitation. 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. Research programmes: Animal Sciences and Health Plant Sciences and Natural Products - Microbial Biotechnology and Health Education: Biology (BSc & MSc)

Female budgerigars prefer smart males Smart makes sexy, or at least to budgerigars. Animal behaviour specialist Carel ten Cate found that male budgerigars become more attractive to females when they can successfully open a puzzle box with food. Wild budgerigars live in the harsh Australian outback, where food extraction skills can be valuable. ‘For the first time, we looked directly at whether seeing smart behaviour influences partner choice’, says Ten Cate. 22

The research was published in Science.


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 worldleading research programme in Industrial Ecology, according to an independent evaluation. From the Environmental Biology programme, especially the ecotoxicology research is considered strong and of future importance. Research programmes: Industrial Ecology - Environmental Biology Education: Industrial Ecology (MSc) - Governance of Sustainability (MSc)

How dangerous are nanoplastics? Are they harmful to the environment and our bodies? A new method developed by Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh and Martina Vijver will help to provide a more accurate picture. They developed a technique to detect and quantify accumulations of

Research

Assessing the effects of nanoplastics

plastic particles in tissues, like food and the human body. Vijver furthermore contributed to joint research with the Institute of Biology Leiden, which showed how certain types of nanoplastic lead to hyperactivity in fish larvae.

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Key facilities Our Faculty hosts a number of high-tech key facilities that enable our research groups to perform excellent research. We also open our facilities to other parties in order for them to utilise their full potential and to enable and encourage collaboration between researchers, both for local partners and for collaborations worldwide.

Metabolomics Facility The Metabolomics Facility brings together experts in clinical metabolomics and pioneers in plant and herbal medicine metabolomics. Researchers connected with the Metabolomics Facility strive to contribute to the prevention of diseases and help improve health throughout the human lifespan.

NeCEN Our powerful electron microscopes can magnify an object up to ten million times. The most minute elements of biological samples and man-made structures can be studied, offering researchers the opportunity to see how individual atoms and molecules behave and structure themselves in their environment. The systems 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 on a molecular level. This year, professor of Ultrastructural Biology Ariane Briegel became co-director of NeCEN.

NMR Facility At the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Facility, much can be learned about the structure and dynamics of proteins. NMR spectroscopy has a wide range of applications, especially in synthetic chemistry, biological and biochemical research groups, but also in drug development groups. Our researchers study the synthesis of paramagnetic molecules. The facility has eight spectrometers. 24


Cell Observatory The Cell Observatory houses cutting-edge bio-imaging technology and other facilities for visualising the dynamic structures of life, from molecule to cell. Fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, the Cell Observatory also serves as a meeting place and shared facility for scientists from all institutes of the Faculty. Ultimately, research at the Cell Observatory aims to understand the fundamental mechanisms of life that are essential for making progress in tackling diseases.

Ultra-Low Vibration Platforms The ‘measuring hall’ comprises sixteen ultra-low vibration measuring platforms. It is the best facility of its kind in Europe and one of the best worldwide. Setups for high-tech research into, for example, new kinds of superconductors, catalysis on an atomic scale, and the limits of the quantum world are in place. Every single measuring platform is individually placed on ultra-low vibration shock absorbers that absorb vibrations almost completely. A separation between the construction of the ‘measuring hall’ and that of the rest of the Gorlaeus Building provides further shock absorption. Without these measures, every passing lorry on the nearby motorway A44 would influence the experiments.

GRACE In 2018, the Faculty purchased the flagship computer cluster GRACE. This per second – a measure of computer performance. GRACE is named after Grace Hopper, a pioneer of computer science. Together with his ADA Research Group, professor of Machine Learning Holger Hoos uses the new state-of-the-art computer cluster for research on generalised machine learning and the automated construction of high-performance algorithms for challenging computational problems from artificial intelligence (AI) and its many applications.

Research

supercomputer achieves a staggering 135 teraFLOPS, or floating-point operations

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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. In general, the honorary professors spend two months at the institute and give advanced lectures for PhD candidates and staff members as well as a public lecture for a broad audience. During the 444th Dies Natalis, Robbert Dijkgraaf received an Honorary Doctorate.

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Robbert Dijkgraaf Honorary Doctorate

Seth Lloyd Lorentz Professor

Jens Nørskov Havinga Medal

Robbert Dijkgraaf is the Director of the famous Institute for

Seth Lloyd is an MIT physicist and

Jens Nørskov is the Villum Kann

Advanced Study in Princeton. His scientific work focuses

quantum computing pioneer, and

Rasmussen professor at the Technical

on the interface between mathematics and physics, with

became the 65th Lorentz professor

University of Denmark and is

subjects such as string theory and quantum gravity. Honorary

in 2019. Twenty-six years ago, he

known for his theoretical work on

supervisor Eric Eliel praises Dijkgraaf ’s work: ‘Unifying

described the first technically feasible

the description of surfaces, catalysis,

Einstein’s theory of gravity and quantum mechanics is the

design for a quantum computer.

materials, nanostructures, and

ultimate goal of our research; this is seen as the Holy Grail of

He also played a pioneering role

biomolecules. He received the 2019

physics.’ Besides for his scientific work, Dijkgraaf was awarded

in the theoretical foundations of

Havinga Medal for his pioneering

the Honorary Doctorate for his efforts in communicating

the fast-growing field of quantum

contributions to the field of theoretical

science, reaching millions of people.

information.

and computational catalysis.


Academic year opens with quantum ‘Quantum as Disruptive Technology’ was the

Introductie prijzen

provocative title of the speech that professor of Theory of Condensed Matter Carlo Beenakker delivered at the Faculty opening of the academic year 2019/2020. The technology of quantum computers and networks promises to radically change the high-tech industry and improve our lives in

A traditional computer bit can be 1 or 0; a quantum bit is

dramatic and unforeseen ways. Beenakker is considered an expert in

1 and 0 at the same time. This is difficult to understand for

the field. In March 2019, he received his second ERC Advanced Grant

people, but easy to capture in simple mathematical equations,

for research on the building blocks of quantum computers; a rare

according to Beenakker. ‘With this property we can now

recognition for the work of one of Leiden’s greatest physicists.

play and discover things.’ Because of this feature, quantum are suitable for other problems than the current computers.

optimistic one, and the coming decade promises extremely exciting

In Leiden, for example, scientists are working on machine

new research opportunities. Now is the time to act on that, as the

learning and chemical applications. The industry also

technology has arrived. For example, computer giant IBM has

sees these possibilities; multinational Shell started a joint

quantum computers with 5 qubits available on which interested parties

investigation with the Beenakker group.

Research

computers will have enormous computing power, but they According to Beenakker, the story of quantum technology is an

can do calculations. The Delft University of Technology, with which Beenakker closely collaborates, will soon come up with a 2-qubits

Leiden quantum research is bundled on a website launched in

quantum computer that is publicly accessible. ‘They are not powerful,

2019, which is intended to explore the possibilities of quantum

they crash very quickly and they make mistakes. But they are there!

algorithms together and bring them to the real world.

And that is absolutely amazing!‘

See aqa.universiteitleiden.nl.

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Education

Highlights

Our vision is that students best learn science by experiencing science together and in collaboration with fellow junior and senior scientists: teaching should be research-driven in a challenging, international and diverse academic environment.

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

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

De Leidsche Flesh

Chemisch Dispuut Leiden

S.V. Life

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.

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L.P.S.V. Aesculapius

Leidse Biologen Club


Counting flora and fauna for citizen science Leiden residents, scientists and students sharing a mission: investigating the banks of the Leiden canals for the ‘Riverbank Plants’ citizen science project. The project was initiated by Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the Institute of Environmental Sciences. The aim is to identify which plant species occur on the banks, as an indication of the quality of these banks. Because the design and management of the banks determine the diversity of species, this information helps the municipality to make changes in its riverbank management and thus improve biodiversity. The project offers an internship to third-year biology students, but citizens provide excellent help too. It will take at least three years to find out which riverbank management works best.

Four students of the master’s programme Industrial Ecology have recently been selected to participate in the accelerator programme of the EIT Climate-KIC, which helps sustainable start-ups get on their feet. ‘We developed the so-called CoirWood board, made from coconut husk only. These sustainable boards can be used to make furniture. The product is free of any chemical binders, which prevents toxic emissions during the processing or use. Furthermore, it can be shredded into powder at the end of its use, and used as pot soil.’ The students developed their product during a summer course called ‘The Journey’ from EIT Climate-KIC. This European knowledge and innovation community works towards a climate-resilient society by ‒ among others ‒ stimulating sustainable entrepreneurship.

Education

Making sustainable furniture with coconut husk

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Green light for master’s programme Governance of Sustainability In September this year, the new master’s programme Governance of Sustainability started. The transdisciplinary programme focuses on students who want to become an intermediary between scientific experts, policy makers and politicians in the domain of sustainability. Students gain in-depth knowledge about sustainability from both the perspective of governance (social sciences) and from the science perspective. The programme is based at the Campus The Hague and is offered by the Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) and the Institute of Public Administration (Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs), two leading institutes at the forefront of the field of sustainability and public administration respectively.

Leiden iGEM students win prize with squid protein A substance that could help heal burns: Leiden students found a way to make bacteria produce so-called suckerin, a protein derived from the Humboldt squid. The Leiden research team took part in the global iGEM competition, in which student teams use synthetic biology to solve societal problems. A total of 360 teams participated, but it was the Leiden team that won the prize for ‘Best Manufacturing Project’. ‘The jury were very impressed by the fact that we effectively produced the suckerin protein,’ says team member Maarten Lubbers. ‘This protein is extremely difficult to produce; we are the first iGEM team to have succeeded.’

30


First graduation ceremony for Leiden pharmacists in 35 years The first twelve students of the new three-year master’s programme in Pharmacy received their diploma last September. The return of Pharmacy relates to the changing demand of patient care. An increase in people that experience multiple conditions simultaneously makes it more difficult to choose the right medication. This causes a great need for a new type of pharmacist who has knowledge of both pharmaceutical products and patient care. The approach of the new Leiden master’s programme is therefore different from the programme in the past: it integrates more recent scientific research, that is also directly applied in practice in the form of internships. The programme is a collaboration between the Leiden University Medical Centre and the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research.

During the 35th edition of the Leiden Science Career Event on 13 March, no less than 1400 beta students came to Leiden to find their future jobs. They could meet up with 67 companies from a wide variety of fields: think of IT and pharmaceutical companies, but also governmental bodies such as the Ministry of Defence. Busy stands were those of the Science Career Service, where students could have their CV checked, and the professional photographer, who took profile pictures for LinkedIn. In the Entrepreneurs CafĂŠ, students could obtain information about what it is like to start your own business.

Education

35th Edition of the Leiden Science Career Event

31


Summer school in China: extreme heat and the Chinese Silicon Valley School during the summer holidays? Some of our students accepted the challenge. During their holidays, students of Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences and Computer Science went all the way to China to visit specialised summer schools. Biopharmacy students visited the Chinese Pharmaceutical University in Nanjing for the Pharmacy Experience Programme. ‘We learned about research at the University, the Chinese health care system and the focus of the Chinese pharmaceutical industry,’ says student Nikki Duijnisveld. Computer Science student Kylian Kropf travelled to Beijing and Shenzhen for the Seeds for the Future scholarship programme of telecom multinational Huawei. During both programmes, there was also enough time and opportunity to learn about the Chinese culture.

Bachelor Mathematics labelled ‘Excellent’ for the fourth time The ‘Keuzegids Universiteiten’ labelled the Leiden bachelor’s programme in Mathematics as ‘Excellent’ for the fourth time in a row. The programme is among the best bachelor programmes in the country and has therefore been awarded a quality seal. It is the only mathematics bachelor in the Netherlands that has received this seal. The programme meets the highest educational standards and is praised by its students on various points. They are enthusiastic about the level of the material, and they find the education stimulating and the teachers knowledgeable.

32


Highlight 1-2 Lab instructions in virtual reality A scoop for the students at the Faculty of Science this year: they can now use virtual reality glasses to learn about the potential safety risks of working in a lab and how to deal with them. Students work with, for example, harmful chemical substances, genetically modified organisms, lasers, pathogens or electrical voltage. Therefore, they have to learn how to handle all these elements safely before they enter the real lab. To improve the learning experience, the safety instructors of the Faculty of Science developed an interactive module on lab safety in a virtual reality environment. Instructor André Kamp: ‘We expect that students will remember the information better when we offer them a life-like experience.’

An astonishing ten students from the Faculty of Science received a Young Talent Award from the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities in Haarlem: a record. During the festive ceremony in November, three master’s students received a Young Talent Graduation Award for their thesis, and seven first-year students received a Young Talent Incentive Award. The winners of the Graduation Awards were praised for their research, which was innovative, had a broad theoretical foundation, and bore significance for society. The awarded prize money ranged from 1,000 to 5,000 euros. The Incentive Award of 500 euros is especially intended for first-year students. They received the prize for the best study results in their field in the first year of their studies.

Education

Record number of Leiden students receive Young Talent Awards

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Science & society

Highlights

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. Here, we present a selection of examples of that impact.

One hundred years of astronomy at the Old Observatory How big is the universe? How do stars form and evolve? Does life exist elsewhere in the Universe? These main questions in astronomy are the themes of the new exhibition Above & Beyond, which was created in honour of the hundredth anniversary of the International Astronomical Union. In the Old Observatory, a silver timeline on the floor takes the public on a space journey through the astronomical milestones of the past century. Visitors meander along photographs, the tunnel of discoveries, and even a prototype of a real space instrument. At the end of the silver line, the exhibition takes a look at the future. What questions will we have answered a hundred years from now?

34


Many Dutch children can’t differentiate between a sparrow and a blackbird Biologist Michiel Hooykaas is the first person ever to have investigated species literacy in the Netherlands. The PhD candidate of the Science Communication and Society research group discovered, among others, that children in primary schools only know about one in three native animal species. He hopes his results will stimulate discussion about the lack of knowledge of animal species among the layman in the Netherlands. ‘These findings raise questions about the distance between people on the one hand and local nature and biodiversity on the other. Research has shown that the more people know, the more they care.’ In addition to his research, Hooykaas created an online quiz for the Dutch public to test their knowledge. The research and quiz were covered widely in the Dutch media.

Making statistics understandable set up a Statistics Communication section to make her field more understandable for the general public. ‘Many people lack basic knowledge of statistics, and researchers are not always aware of this,’ Willems explains. ‘Therefore, things often go wrong. When it comes to figures in the newspaper, information is lacking in how they came about, conclusions are very brief, or figures are taken out of context or even misused. If people knew more about statistics, they could recognise these kinds of things. That is desirable, because data influences our daily lives more and more.’

Science & society

Together with two former fellow students, statistician Sanne Willems

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Translating programming courses attractive to girls Programming courses are often only available in English. Therefore, the new Programming Education Research Lab (PERL) of the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science currently takes part in translating ‘The Beauty and Joy of Computing’ programming lessons into Dutch. The method is aimed at secondary school students who can use the ‘Snap!’ programming language to find out for themselves that programming is more than just mathematics and games. They can also use the course material to create works of art, for example, and express their creativity. ‘It is much more focused on making beautiful things, and less on puzzles,’ says the head of the PERL lab, Félienne Hermans. ‘In the United States, this has led to more girls opting for computer science.’

The impact of electric vehicles on critical metals The current production of a number of critical metals, such as neodymium and dysprosium, is insufficient for the large-scale transition to electric vehicles Dutch authorities advocate. That is the conclusion of a report by environmental scientist Benjamin Sprecher and organisations Copper8 and Metabolic. As a solution, they recommend more electric car sharing, cars with a smaller battery, and improved recycling. Sprecher presented his report to the Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management. ‘She, in turn, submitted our report to the global climate conference “Conference of the Parties”. It is very nice to see how much impact such a report can have.’

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Highlight 1-2

Students of MBO Rijnland animate Leiden physics Miniaturisation beams, microrobots, and ice skaters that suddenly drop into a hole in the ice: students of the local MBO Rijnland, institute for secondary vocational education, let their imagination run free while animating Leiden physics research. The partnership produced eleven surprising and very diverse science animations. ‘For our course Motion Graphics and Graphical Design, the idea is that our students work for a real client,’ says Marieke Huisman, a teacher at MBO Rijnland. Students could choose from one of three subjects connected to the Leiden Institute of Physics. Prior to the assignment, they saw a presentation about the

Plastic Spotter: residents and researchers spot plastic in the Leiden canals In the Plastic Spotter project, Leiden citizens and scientists work together to spot and clean up plastic in the canals of Leiden. The many cups, bottles and bags that float in the 28 kilometres of canals will eventually find their way to the sea and add to the plastic soup. The project aims to provide a clear picture of how much plastic waste is floating in which places. A free app helps to record this quick and easy by taking photographs and quantifying the amount of plastic. But the project doesn’t stop there. Researcher of the Institute of Environmental Sciences Auke-Florian Hiemstra: ‘We also want to launch a

Science & society

research, followed by a lab tour in the Oosterkamp and Kraft labs.

fleet of canoes that volunteers can use to clean up as much plastic as possible!’

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The beauty of plants, fungi and algae Beautiful microscopic specimens play a leading role in the firstyear Biology course ‘Biodiversity Plant’. Normally, the specimens of plants, fungi and algae are put back in storage right after the course. But this year, biology alumnus Werner de Gier and artist Franz Anthony decided to change that. They photographed the specimens through the ocular of their microscope and shared a picture on social media each day, attracting quite some attention. ‘We want to show the world that, although static and very small, such educational preparations can be very beautiful,’ says De Gier.

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Natuurwetenschappelijk Gezelschap Leiden (NGL) Alumni network NGL, or the Leiden Society for Natural Sciences, has close bonds with the Faculty of Science. Founded in 1870 by enthusiastic Leiden professors, NGL organises lectures and excursions about socially relevant topics, looked at from a scientific point of view. The annual excursion took the members to the Leiden Singelpark, where they learned all about the vegetation around the outer canals of Leiden. During this meeting, ample thought was given to NGL’s much beloved former chairman

Vereniging Oud-Sterrewachters (VO-S) Anyone, from student to staff member, who once was – or still is – connected with the Leiden Observatory is welcome to become a member of the VO-S. The VO-S organises a wide range of events on recent developments in astronomy, from scientific lectures to community events. It also accommodates each year’s Oort lecture. This year’s highlight of the gathering was an inside account by astronomer Remo Tilanus, about how the first photograph of a black hole was made. The VO-S also hosted an alumni day together with study association De

Science & society

Mathieu Noteborn, who passed away earlier this year.

Leidsche Flesch.

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Hortus botanicus Leiden Founded in 1590, the Hortus botanicus Leiden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. It is renowned for its plant collection and research. In 2019, the garden welcomed over 180.000 visitors. The ‘Big Picnic’ project – which was started to make the public aware of the need for safe food – has been successfully completed. In addition, the Winter Garden and the entrance both underwent a major renovation. The latter area houses a new permanent presentation about ‘Plant survivors’. In the exhibition ‘Better with plants’, young and old discovered the medicinal properties of plants. Within the framework of this exhibition, the Hortus organised several Science Cafés in which science, public, professionals and the business world talked to each other, tasted together, and let young and old feel at home.

Lorentz Center The Lorentz Center is an international centre that coordinates mono- and multidisciplinary workshops, based on the philosophy that science thrives on interaction between researchers. For more than two decades, the centre has facilitated international groups of researchers to discuss scientific problems. The focus lies on brainstorming and sharing ideas in a low-key setting. Lorentz Center workshops typically last five days and are financially and practically supported. Since 2010, joint sessions for academics and the industry were added, which endorses the active participation of junior researchers. In 2019, the Lorentz Center hosted 78 workshops for more than 3000 researchers from over 64 countries.

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Staff 2019

Students 2019

149 Full Professors

5,053 Total students

182

Assistant & Associate Professors

3,160 Bachelor students

197

Postdocs

1,893

617

PhD candidates

40% Female

Master students

335 Guest PhD candidates

1,123

Intake bachelor students 2019

129 PhD Defenses

700

Intake master students 2019*

4 Cum Laude PhD Defenses

* Enrollments first semester, September 2019

For an overview of our awards, appointments and prizes in 2019 visit

Diplomas 2018-2019 P-in-1*

Propedeuses

BSC

MSC

Honours College

Total

435

602

506

476

31

Cum Laude

79

83

39

94

-

Summa Cum Laude

10

11

8

6

-

* First year completed within one year.

Facts & figures

universiteitleiden.nl/science-talents-and-discoveries/awards--prizes

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204 YEARS

1815 - 2019

Amsterdam London

35

m

in .

Berlin

Paris

Delft

30 min.

mi

The Hague

20

Barcelona

Leiden

.

min

Strategic cooperation

n.

10

Science is not something we practice in isolation. As a Faculty we are, for example,

Rotterdam

closely involved with many of our neighbours at the Leiden Bio Science Park, the largest life sciences cluster in the Netherlands. In our region of South Holland, we actively collaborate with the universities of Delft and Rotterdam. In this Leiden-Delft-Erasmus context we participate in the Centre for BOLD cities for big, open and linked data, we work on technological solutions for sustainable health care in Medical Delta, and do meaningful research for a circular economy in the Centre for Sustainability. We also maintain many collaborations outside Europe, including valued bonds with China. Within the strategic partnership with Xi’an Jiaotong University, for

distances by train

42

example, we exchange guest professors and students on a regular basis.


Environmental sciences Leiden • 124,899 residents, 1 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 103 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

Leiden University • 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

Facts & figures

cities such a London, Paris and Rome.

• >600 professors (29% female) • 15 Nobel prizes • 22 Spinoza prizes • 29,542 students

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Yearly Awards Each year, the Faculty of Science awards prizes for excellent teaching and research. This year, with the help of professor Ewine van Dishoeck, a new prize was established. With part of the revenues from the prestigious Kavli prize she received in 2018, the Young Star Award was created to give stage to young talent and award the best bachelor student of the past academic year.

Research prizes

Faculty Award for Teaching

Both of our research prizes are awarded from the inheritance of Mr C.J.

Student members of the educational committees play a key role: they

Kok, a biology tutor from The Hague, who was strongly committed to

are given the opportunity to nominate their favourite teacher. The chairs

the natural sciences. Upon his death in 1965, he left his entire estate to

of our study associations and the assessor from the Faculty Board form

Leiden University to award outstanding scientific performance. In his will

the jury and decide who will be awarded the prize. Main criteria for

he stated that the prizes should go to those demonstrating ‘a pronounced,

assessment are:

significant talent for mathematics or the solving of medical problems’.

• Didactic skills. • The ways in which connections between the course and recent

C.J. Kok Public Award Who made a most remarkable discovery, had a truly genius

developments in relevant fields of research are made. • The ways in which the course is taught from a multidisciplinary

breakthrough, or contributed tremendously to his or her field? Every

perspective and connects with other fields within the (natural)

year, we choose a ‘Discoverer of the Year’ from our midst. This prize is

sciences.

awarded after a public vote with contributions from our community: students, staff and employees, and the public.

Young Star Award The Young Star Award is awarded to a student who completed his or

C.J. Kok Jury Award

her bachelor’s thesis in the current academic year. Each of our bachelor’s

What makes a thesis a winning one? Who wrote the best dissertation in

programmes nominates a student. The members of the C.J. Kok Jury

the past year? An expert jury assesses nominated dissertations from all of

Award also asses the nominations for the young Star Award, based on

our eight institutes, to hand-pick the winner of the C.J. Kok Jury Award.

the quality of their thesis, overall results achieved during their studies,

Main criteria for assessment are:

and relevant extra-curricular activities. A maximum of four students are

• Scientific quality: innovative content for its field of research, other

invited to pitch for their nomination, which ultimately determines who

disciplines, and science in general. • Do the research results bear direct relevance to society?

will win the prize.

• Is the thesis easily accessible and clearly written? • Career prospects following promotion, if this information is 44

available.

Get to know this year’s nominees for all prizes and read their stories: www.universiteitleiden.nl/science-talents-and-discoveries


Paul Behrens - Winner C.J. Kok Public Award 2018

We’re running out of time Paul Behrens is an interdisciplinary scientist who wants

of the European electricity sector to changes in water resources.

to understand our impact on the planet. ‘Unfortunately,

The work ‒ published in Nature Energy ‒ found that, since

and we’re running out of time to avoid the worst.’ ‘It’s quite clear that we’re in a lot of trouble,’ Behrens says. ‘We need to drastically change the way we act. Can we find ways to guarantee long-term life on our planet? In my opinion, that’s the single biggest question for humanity.’ The urgency forms a big motivation for Behrens’ research. ‘I’m trying to understand the interactions between humans and the environment, and find ways in which we can alter production and consumption to ease our impacts.’

power plants need significant amounts of fresh water for cooling purposes, climate change and drought threaten to increase water stress. ‘In 2019, French power plants had to cut power output during the summer due to a lack of fresh water.’ According to Behrens, a faster transition to renewable energy will significantly decrease problems on the Mediterranean coast and elsewhere. ‘But coordination and investment are crucial for this solution.’ Behrens is very happy with the prize. ‘I’m almost done with writing a popular science book, and it’s great to mention that

Yearly awards

we are not doing enough. Huge changes are underway

I’ve won a popular science prize on the cover.’

Behrens’ work is interdisciplinary, covering energy, water, food, and climate systems. In one study he investigated the increasing vulnerability

45


Jorryt Matthee - Winner C.J. Kok Jury Award 2018

Tracking galaxies from a few glowing pixels In 2018, astronomer Jorryt Matthee won the C.J. Kok

During that process, he succeeded in making a number of

Jury Prize for the best dissertation from the Faculty

interesting connections between completely different properties

of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. He succeeded

of galaxies. ‘For example, it appears that small differences in the

in finding a number of rare galaxies from the early universe. One of them received the same initials as football player Cristiano Ronaldo: CR7.

chemical composition of stars in galaxies depend on the structure of the universe on a large scale, because this influences the growth of galaxies on long time scales.’ He remains driven to discover the properties of stars in the early

‘What initially looked like a few glowing pixels on a photo later

universe. ‘These stars resemble the ancestors of our own sun

turned out to contain a very complex structure: an extremely bright

and their properties can therefore tell us something about our

galaxy that we see when it is created by the merging of as many as

own distant history. In addition, I am also very interested in the

three, possibly four, smaller galaxies.’ This is how astronomer Jorryt

question why some galaxies grow faster than others and what the

Matthee briefly describes the results of his Leiden PhD project,

consequences are.’

which he concluded in 2018 with the award-winning dissertation. Matthee now works as a postdoc at the ETH in Zürich. He

46

Matthee managed to complete a full process during his promotion,

considers the C.J. Kok Juryprijs a very nice recognition of

he says. ‘Finding a number of rare galaxies in the early universe

his work. ‘This recognition is currently very motivating and

in the first months of my PhD trajectory, then confirming their

stimulating, and therefore helps me with the confidence to

distances with new observations a year later, and finally uncovering

conduct new daring research.’

their structure with follow-up observations that we have planned and performed ourselves.’


Stefano Cucurachi - Winner Faculty Award for Teaching 2018

The art of being a teacher How does one keep 80 students with different

Because his course brings together students with different

backgrounds motivated for three hours? Stefano

perspectives, Cucurachi puts great effort into facilitating good

lively discussions, and even some improvisational theatre into his courses. ‘Teaching is a nice moment of interaction

classical discussions. ‘I desire a debate-like atmosphere instead of a static and frontal lecture. It should not be just me talking, because the topics can be quite polarising. When we talk about the food system, for example, there are meat eaters, but also vegetarians.’

with other humans, and I find it really rewarding.’ According to Cucurachi, the biggest challenge of teaching is Cucurachi teaches System Earth, a broad course in the master’s programme

taking on the impulses from the outside world. ‘As a teacher, you

Industrial Ecology about the natural processes and how they have been

are competing with so many things. Online shopping, playing

changed by humans. ‘We talk about big issues, such as climate change or

games, checking out social media…’ Still, he doesn’t want to

resource scarcity,’ Cucurachi says. ‘As an academic, you have to realise that

prohibit technology in class. ‘I strive to create an interesting

these issues cause reactions such as despair or denial, or people can feel

environment instead. I like to look into other disciplines, such

overwhelmed. I make students aware of this by linking events from the

as improvisational theatre, to find techniques to warm up the

news to the course material.’

students or to keep their attention.’

Yearly awards

Cucurachi knows: by incorporating current developments,

47


Nominees 2019

C.J. Kok Public Award Leiden

Leiden Institute

Mathematical

Leiden Institute of

Observatory

of Physics

Institute

Advanced Computer Science

Sebastiaan Haffert

Irene Battisti

Tim van Erven

Max van Duijn

Exoplanets spotted collecting dust in protoplanetary disc

Building the most stable microscope in the world

Making computers learn smarter and faster

Everyone is a mind reader – yes, you too

‘We were very excited when the

‘If an algorithm draws its

‘If we want digital assistants to

‘Finding a multi-planet system

first images came in from the

conclusions about noise-filled

improve, we have to gain a better

in formation started with a lucky

microscope we had been building

data too soon, it might find

understanding of the role of em-

coincidence. One of the exoplanets

for two and a half years. Aston-

patterns that are not really

pathy in human communication.

was discovered just when we were

ishingly, the data was beautifully

there. I develop algorithms

We have to go beyond under-

looking for an object to test the

clean.’

which adjust their learning

standing language in a literal

strategies depending on the

sense towards understanding the

data, so algorithms do not start

person you are communicating

hallucinating patterns.’

with.’

instrument on.’

Find out more about this year’s nominees on the next pages and read their full stories online: universiteitleiden.nl/science-talents-and-discoveries

48


Nominees 2019

C.J. Kok Public Award Leiden Institute of Leiden Academic

Institute of

Institute of

Centre for Drug Research

Biology Leiden

Environmental Sciences

Coen van Hasselt

Victor Carrión Bravo

Nadia Soudzilovskaia

Unlocking the secrets of disease-suppressive bacteria

‘Our probe to search for bio-

Re-designing dosing schedules of antibiotics to prevent treatment resistance

‘I hope that our results will

Improving our understanding of the global carbon cycle

mass-degrading enzymes is now

‘We hope that by using our

form a new basis in agriculture,

‘To slow down climate change,

available to scientists, and several

approach to find optimal dosing

changing the predominantly

we must stop removing plants

groups are already using it. The

regimens, we can preserve antibi-

chemical-based practices towards

and the fungi surrounding their

tool even marked the start of a

otics for the effective treatment of

organic and sustainable farming,

roots. In abandoned agricultural

new research field in our group.’

future patients.’

avoiding the extensive use of

lands, it is helpful to restore

pesticides.’

native vegetation.’

Sybrin Schröder & Casper de Boer Tools to easily find novel biomass-degrading enzymes

Yearly awards

Chemistry

49


Nominees 2019

C.J. Kok Jury Award Leiden

Leiden Institute

Mathematical

Leiden Institute of

Observatory

of Physics

Institute

Advanced Computer Science

Merel van ‘t Hof

Tom O’Brien

Robbin Bastiaanse

Koen van der Blom

Chemistry in embedded disks: setting the stage for planet formation

Applications of topology to Weyl semimetals and quantum computing

Lines in the sand: behaviour of self-organised vegetation patterns in dryland ecosystems

‘We are now finally able to

‘I am most proud of our

‘I am proud to have contributed to

Multi-Objective MixedInteger Evolutionary Algorithms for Building Spatial Design

unravel the composition of

prediction of momentum-space

the interdisciplinary field of pattern

‘By developing mixed-integer

planetary building blocks. This

Klein tunnelling in a Weyl

formation; that my research has led

algorithms that are able to handle

brings us one step closer to

semimetal, the signatures of

to new insights in ecology regarding

multiple objectives, it becomes

understanding the formation of

which were recently observed in

spatially patterned ecosystems, as

possible to find balanced

our own Earth and the origins

an experiment.’

well as to the development of novel

solutions for a greater class of

mathematical techniques necessary

problems.’

of life.’

to study these systems.’ Find out more about this year’s nominees on the next pages and read their full stories online: universiteitleiden.nl/science-talents-and-discoveries

50


Nominees 2019

C.J. Kok Jury Award Leiden Institute of

Leiden Academic Centre for

Institute of

Institute of

Chemistry

Drug Research

Biology Leiden

Environmental Sciences

Leon Jacobse

Esmee Koedoot

Robin Heinen

Yujia Zhai

Platinum electrochemistry through a magnifying glass

RNA splicing in breast cancer progression

‘Visualising and understanding

‘We unravelled the underlying

Soil legacy effects on aboveground plant-insect interactions

electrochemically reactive

mechanisms and identified

‘I was literally shaking when I

Nano shapes micro: Impacts of metallic nanoparticles on microbial communities

structures at the atomic scale,

new targets involved in breast

received the first printed copy of

‘New, engineered nanoparticles

seeing details that had never

cancer metastasis formation.

my thesis. It came out beautifully,

have been found to induce

been observed before, formed

Our discoveries could contribute

and exactly as I had hoped. I am

disruption of soil microbial

the ultimate reward for the hard

to the development of new

very proud that I managed to

communities. We need to

work.’

anti-cancer therapies that reduce

finish all the work on time: just

monitor and regulate the use of

breast cancer progression and

before the birth of my baby son

nano-enabled agrochemicals so

increase patient survival.’

earlier this year.’

that soil ecosystems can recover.’

Yearly awards

51


Nominees 2019

Faculty Award for Teaching Leiden

Leiden Institute

Mathematical

Leiden Institute of

Observatory

of Physics

Institute

Advanced Computer Science

Jacqueline Hodge

Milan Allan

Ronald van Luijk

Suzan Verberne

Course: Galaxies and Cosmology

Courses: Algebra 1; Linear Algebra 2

Courses: Text Mining; Data Mining; Bachelor Class

‘Role models dramatically affect

Courses: Modern Physics Research; The Electronic Structure of Solids

‘I only consider my class

‘Empathy is important, because

students’ continued interest and

‘Teaching is rewarding: it is

successful if my students have

as a teacher, you often don’t know

future career choices. Therefore,

wonderful to see students grow

learned some ideas that are not

the personal stories and struggles

it’s so important that the students

and understand complex matter

so obvious from the book.’

of individual students.’

see themselves reflected in their

that they did not understand at

teachers.’

first.’

Find out more about this year’s nominees on the next pages and read their full stories online: universiteitleiden.nl/science-talents-and-discoveries

52


Nominees 2019

Faculty Award for Teaching Leiden Academic Centre for Chemistry

Onno van Gaans Course: Calculus 1 ‘It is a privilege to work with a group of young people who are so enthusiastic and talented, because that’s what the students of our Faculty are.’

Drug Research

Fouzia Lghoul-Oulad Saïd Courses: Pharmacist & Society; Pharmaceutical Technology; Pharmacotherapy ‘I really love getting to know my students on a personal level, even if it’s for a brief moment.’

Institute of

Institute of

Biology Leiden

Environmental Sciences

Harald van Mil

Ellen Cieraad

Courses: General Research Skills; Advanced Statistics ‘A lecturer should stimulate the

Courses: Minor Sustainable Development; Resilient Cities

students and encourage them

‘For me, delivering students with

to fully understand the subject

the right capabilities is at least

matter, rather than merely

as impactful as writing a highly

reproduce the material taught.’

cited paper.’

Yearly awards

Leiden Institute of

53


Nominees 2019

Young Star Award Physics and

Astronomy and Physics

Mathematics and

Sciences

Physics

Maite Boden

Benjamin van Ommen

Bio Pharmaceutical

Linde Schoenmaker

Martijn de Jong

‘I focused my research on

‘I like to apply what I learned to

‘By using 3D computer models,

‘I am fascinated by physical

improving neutrino detection

“the real world”. Therefore, I have

we can make the search for

phenomena and how they work.

methods. Although neutrinos

designed and built an affordable

cancer drugs more efficient.’

During my bachelor’s I used both

are very hard to detect, they can

radio telescope that could be very

mathematics and physics to map

help us understand the Standard

valuable for education.’

out a crucial phase of embryonic

Astronomy

Model, our Sun, faraway stars and galaxies, and even the birth of the Universe!’

Find out more about this year’s nominees and read their full stories online: universiteitleiden.nl/science-talents-and-discoveries

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development.’


Faculty of Science P.O. Box 9502 2300 RA Leiden The Netherlands  publications@science.leidenuniv.nl

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Our Talents & Discoveries 2019  

Explore the talents and discoveries of the Faculty of Science, Leiden University

Our Talents & Discoveries 2019  

Explore the talents and discoveries of the Faculty of Science, Leiden University

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