The Spinoza Prize, awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), is a personal award for top researchers with an international reputation. The NWO requests selected persons to nominate candidates for this prize. A maximum of four prizes are awarded annually. The winners each receive €2.5 million to spend on research of their own choice for five years. An NWO Spinoza Prize is an honorary award in recognition of what the winners have achieved in their academic career, as well as an incentive to promote further research.
Over the years, five academics from Groningen have received a Spinoza Prize:
2015: Prof Cisca Wijmenga
Cisca Wijmenga (1964) has been Professor of Human Genetics at the University Medical Center Groningen and the University of Groningen since 2007. Prior to that she was a professor at the University of Utrecht. She studied biology at the University of Groningen and was awarded her PhD cum laude by the University of Leiden in 1993. During the early years of her career she became fascinated by the vast amount of information held in DNA. She worked also as a postdoc in the laboratory of the American geneticist Francis Collins, who at the time was leading the Human Genome Project, the consortium that was the first to decipher the human genome.
As Head of the Department of Genetics she leads a team of about 250 people working in the clinic and in research. She has authored or co-authored more than 400 scientific papers that have been cited more than 27,000 times. She was appointed member of the KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) in 2012.
2014: Prof. T. Piersma
Theunis Piersma (1958) is professor in the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES) of the University of Groningen. He studied biology in Groningen, and led his first research expedition, to Mauretania, in 1980 while still a student. In 1994 he gained his PhD from the same university. Since then he has worked as a researcher both at the University of Groningen and at the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. He was appointed professor of Animal Ecology in 2003. He exchanged this chair for the new chair in Global Flyway Ecology in 2012, sponsored by a collaboration between the University of Groningen, the Worldwide Fund for Nature and Vogelbescherming. He has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) since 2009.
2004: Prof. B.L. Feringa
Ben Feringa (Barger-Compascuum, 1951) studied chemistry at the University of Groningen. In 1978 he was awarded his PhD under the supervision of organic chemist Hans Wijnberg. He then worked at the Shell research lab for six years before returning to the University of Groningen in 1984. He was appointed professor in 1988.
2000: Prof. D.S. Postma
Prof. Postma (Nij Beets, 1951) is one of the world's top researchers in the field of asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema). She has an excellent international reputation and her work has been recognized through prizes, advisory positions and invitations to speak at conferences.
1996: Prof. G.A. Sawatzky
Prof. Sawatzky (Winkler, Manitoba, Canada 1942) has made major contributions to the understanding of transition metal oxides, more generally correlated electron systems and in the development of spectroscopic technique suited to study the electronic structure of these systems. As one of the world’s leading physicists he has received multiple awards and is internationally recognized as an expert in his field. Prof. Sawatzky moved to his birth country and the University of British Columbia in 2001, after 32 years of top research at the University of Groningen. One of his former PhD students Prof. Jan Zaanen, who did his PhD in Groningen, is also a Spinoza Laureate (2006).
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