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Heike Kamerlingh Onnes chair and Rudi Drent chair for Groningen professors

21 September 2018

The Faculty of Science and Engineering has honoured two of her professors by appointing them to a named chair: Prof. Bart Van Wees on the Heike Kamerlingh Onnes chair and Prof. Theunis Piersma on the Rudi Drent chair in Global Flyway Ecology. Named chairs are special as these are installed to recognize the excellence of the professor and are therefore named after an internationally known scientist who has made history.

Prof. Bart van Wees, photo by Marcel Spanjer
Prof. Bart van Wees, photo by Marcel Spanjer
Heike Kamerlingh Onnes chair for Prof. Bart van Wees

Bart van Wees is professor at the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials (Faculty of Science and Engineering, UG) and full professor of Physics of Nanodevices since 2000. Van Wees is a world-leading physicist in quantum electronic transport. He has contributed to forefront discoveries in nanoelectronics, mesoscopic systems, spintronics and (most recently) spincaloritronics and novel 2D materials. In addition to numerous other activities, Van Wees plays a leading role in the EU’s Graphene Flagship Project since 2013. A staggering € 1 billion is invested in this programme for research into graphene until 2023. In 2016, Van Wees was awarded the Spinoza Prize , the highest academic award in the Netherlands.

Prof. Heike Kamerlingh Onnes
Prof. Heike Kamerlingh Onnes

Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (1853-1926), who gave his name to the chair, was a Dutch physicist and Nobel laureate. He was born in Groningen and studied physics and mathematics at the University of Groningen. He obtained a doctorate in 1879. In 882, he served as professor at the University of Leiden. In 1908, he was the first to liquefy helium and he was also the discoverer of superconductivity in 1911. Kamerlingh Onnes received widespread recognition for his work, including the 1913 Nobel Prize in Physics for his investigations on the properties of matter at low temperatures.

Prof. Theunis Piersma, photo: Ivar Pel/NWO
Prof. Theunis Piersma, photo: Ivar Pel/NWO
Rudi Drent chair for Prof. Theunis Piersma

Theunis Piersma is professor of Global Flyway Ecology at the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering, UG) and Senior Research Scientist at the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research Department of Coastal Systems. He has received numerous awards in recognition of his scientific work on migration, ecology and evolution of birds and other taxa such as the prestigious Marsh Award for International Ornithology in 2017. In 2003, he was appointed professor of Animal Ecology and in 2012 he was appointed to the chair in Global Flyway Ecology, sponsored by a collaboration between the University of Groningen, the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the Dutch national BirdLife association. He will now exchange this chair for the Rudi Drent chair in Global Flyway Ecology. In 2014, Piersma was awarded the Spinoza Prize , the highest academic award in the Netherlands. Piersma studied biology at the University of Groningen and was Rudi Drent’s PhD student.

Prof. Rudi Drent
Prof. Rudi Drent

Rudi Drent (1937-2008), who gave his name to the chair, was a renowned Dutch ecologist and ornithologist. He grew up in Los Angeles but came to the Netherlands in 1962 to obtain his doctorate. He returned to Groningen in 1972 as a lector in Animal Ecology and in 1983 he was appointed full professor. Drent was the driving force in Dutch ornithology. Not only through his research –he supervised more than 60 PhD students and he co-published with Prof. Serge Daan on parental investment which is still one of the highest cited publications today – but also as chairman of the Netherlands Ornithological Union from 1974 till 2003. Drent was famous for his gentle yet sharp-sighted and inspiring way of coaching young researchers within and outside of the University of Groningen.

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Named chairs University of Groningen

Last modified:27 September 2018 3.18 p.m.
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