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Nobel laureates

The University of Groningen has also produced a number of Nobel laureates. Two of these winners were professors at the University when they received the prize. Two additional Nobel laureates did (part of) their studies and research at the University of Groningen.

Laureates Year Discipline
Prof. Ben Feringa, molecular machines. 2016 Chemistry
Prof. Frits Zernike, phase contrast microscope. 1953 Physics
Ben Feringa receives the Nobel Prize from Swedish King Carl Gustaf. Copyright © Nobel Media AB 2016. Photo: Pi Frisk.
Ben Feringa receives the Nobel Prize from Swedish King Carl Gustaf. Copyright © Nobel Media AB 2016. Photo: Pi Frisk.

Other laureates

Albert Szent-Györgyi, cell respiration and vitamin C. 1937 Medicine
Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, properties of matter at low temperatures. 1913 Physics

Albert Szent-Györgyi

Hungarian Albert Szent-Györgyi studied medicine in Budapest, but had to abandon his studies to fight at the front during the First World War. After the war, he ended up in Leiden in 1920. Two years later, he moved to Prof. H.J. Hamburger’s laboratory at the University of Groningen, where he would work for four years.

In this lab in Groningen, Szent-Györgyi conducted research into cell respiration and biological oxidation. A substance in some plants, such as citrus fruit, appeared to strongly suppress the oxidation process. In 1931, he established that this substance was vitamin C. Szent-Györgyi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for this discovery in 1937.

News article Albert Szent-Györgyi

Heike Kamerlingh Onnes

“Knowledge through measurements” was Heike Kamerlingh Onnes’s motto. In his laboratory in Leiden, Kamerlingh Onnes researched the liquefaction of gases. He founded a school for instrument makers to equip his laboratory as well as possible for his measurements. On 10 July 1908 Heike Kamerlingh Onnes was the first to succeed in liquefying helium at a temperature of -269 ºC. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for this achievement in 1913.

Kamerlingh Onnes didn’t start out in Leiden, however; he was born in Groningen and studied mathematics and physics at the University of Groningen. In 1870, he passed his propaedeutic year in chemistry. After this first year, he left the University of Groningen to continue his studies in Heidelberg. In 1873, he returned to Groningen and obtained his doctorate in 1879. Three years later, he became a professor at Leiden University.

A street in Groningen is named after him.

Kamerlingh Onnes street
Last modified:16 March 2020 3.10 p.m.
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