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Wierenga-Rengerink PhD Prize

The Wieringa-Rengerink PhD prize is an annual prize awarded to the writer of the best University of Groningen dissertation. The prize was first awarded in 2015. Every faculty nominates a dissertation and the jury of former rectors chooses one overall winner. Only exceptionally good dissertations qualify - they have to be credited at least with cum laude.

The prize is awarded to the winner during the annual Summer Ceremony. The Wierenga-Rengerink family has donated the prize money to the Ubbo Emmius Fund. In this way, the winner receives € 7,500 intended for further academic development, for example for participation in symposia abroad.

Winner 2018

The Wierenga-Rengerink Prize for the PhD student with the best dissertation in 2017 has been awarded to Dr Alain Dekker for his thesis ‘ Down & Alzheimer : Behavioural biomarkers of a forced marriage’. During the summer ceremony, Dekker received a prize of €7,500 to spend on his continued academic development.

The Wierenga-Rengerink Prize has been awarded every year since 2015 to the PhD student who wrote the best UG thesis in that year. Each faculty chooses its own winner, after which a jury of former rectors appoints the ultimate winner from this pool. UG alumni fund the Prize through the Ubbo Emmius Fund (UEF).

Winners 2017

The jury of the Wierenga-Rengerink PhD Award has , as an exception, granted the award to two PhD graduates: Dr Nigel Hamilton and Dr Jordi van Gestel.

Winner 2016

The Wieringa-Rengerink PhD prize was awarded to Hanna van Loo for the best University of Groningen dissertation of this year.

Hanna's thesis concerns the intersection of psychiatry and philosophy of science. Faculty member Jan-Willem Romeijn was one of her supervisors. Her dissertation Data-driven subtypes of major depressive disorder was supervised by Robert Schoevers, Peter de Jonge and Jan-Willem Romeijn.

Hanna van Loo studied philosophy and medicine and now works at the Department of Psychiatry of the UMCG as a medical doctor and a researcher.

Summary best dissertation 2016

Patients with major depressive disorder constitute a heterogeneous group: depressive patients differ considerably in terms of clinical presentation, course of illness, and underlying mechanisms. These differences complicate ‘one size fits all’ solutions in research and treatment assignments.

In her dissertation, Hanna van Loo aimed to reduce these differences by searching for data-driven subtypes of major depressive disorder: subgroups of depressed patients with important similarities as identified by statistical data-analyses. She investigated theoretical, methodological and empirical aspects relevant for this search, by focusing on three questions: what sort of categories are we looking for, what methods are suited to identify them and what do the data show us?

To answer these questions, she first applied advanced statistical learning methods to large datasets in the Netherlands and the United States so as to identify groups of patients with a high or low risk for a severe course of depression. These studies resulted in three preliminary data-driven subtypes predicting a severe, moderate and mild course of illness: the most severe subtype predicted significantly more future episodes of depression, hospitalizations, and disability. Second, she performed several theoretical studies of psychiatric comorbidity – the fact that many psychiatric patients have more than one psychiatric disorder – to promote the understanding of classifications of depression using insights from the philosophy of science. The results of these studies demonstrate the potential of data-driven subtypes of depression as bases for clinically relevant classifications and provide several starting-points for future research.

Previous winners Wierenga-Rengerink PhD prize

Dr. Namkje Koudenburg, of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, has the honour of being the first Wierenga-Rengerink PhD prize winner in 2015. She won the award with her thesis: Conversational Flow: The Emergence and Regulation of Solidarity through Social Interaction.

  • Wierenga-Rengerink PhD prize winner 2015
Last modified:15 July 2019 12.36 p.m.
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