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Amina Helmi appointed Scientific Director of NOVA

17 December 2021

The Board of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) has appointed Amina Helmi as Scientific Director. Michiel Rodenhuis will become the new Executive Director. Both were active members of the NOVA Office already: Helmi as Deputy Scientific Director, and Rodenhuis as interim Executive Director. Van Dishoek will remain affiliated with NOVA as the Ambassador.

As from 1 January 2022, Amina Helmi will succeed Ewine van Dishoek, who has been Scientific Director since 2007. Helmi was born in Argentina and obtained her PhD at Leiden University in 2000. In her PhD thesis she shed light upon the remnants of galaxies swallowed by the Milky Way. That has never been done before, and for that she was awarded the Christiaan Huygens Prize in 2004. After working in postdoctoral research positions in Argentina and Germany, she returned to the Netherlands. Here, she started working at the Astronomical Institute in Utrecht as a NOVA fellow. She has been a professor at the Kapteyn Institute of the UG since 2003. From 2007 to 2012 Helmi was member of the Young Academy (De Jonge Akademie) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, KNAW). In 2016 she was elected as a member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen, KHMW) and in 2017 she became a member of the KNAW. In 2019 she was awarded the Spinoza Prize.

Michiel Rodenhuis graduated from the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in 1999. Afterwards he worked in the aerospace sector, for the ESA among other companies. In 2007 he returned to the academic world and obtained his PhD in Experimental Astrophysics at Utrecht University in 2011. During his PhD, under the supervision of Prof. Christoph Keller, he developed an instrument that was able to observe dust discs around stars through polarized light. Today this technique is used for discovering exoplanets. Rodenhuis spent a short period of time working at SRON (Netherlands Institute for Space Research) and, since 2015, Rodenhuis has held the role of Instrumentation Coordinator at NOVA.

In their new positions, Helmi will be responsible for the scientific strategy of NOVA and Rodenhuis will be leading the implementation process. That also includes NOVA's ambitious instrumentation programme.

The appointments made by the NOVA Board, comprising the directors of four university-based astronomical institutes, were published this week. Huub Röttgering (Leiden Observatory), chair of the Board, is delighted with the appointment of the new NOVA Office members: ‘In the past 20 years, through national coordination, NOVA has composed an international 
world-class programme and has positioned itself as being ready for new and exciting developments. Thanks to the strong new team, NOVA is ready for the future.’

More information about NOVA
The Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) is an alliance between astronomical institutes of the universities of Amsterdam, Groningen, Leiden, and Nijmegen. The mission of the NOVA top-level research school includes carrying out ground-breaking astronomical research, educating young astronomers at the highest international level, and sharing new discoveries with society. The NOVA laboratories specialize in building state-of-the-art optical/infra-red and submillimetre instruments for the biggest telescopes on Earth.

Amina Helmi and Michiel Rodenhuis. Credit foto Helmii: Studio Oostrum/Hollandse Hoogte.
Amina Helmi and Michiel Rodenhuis. Credit foto Helmii: Studio Oostrum/Hollandse Hoogte.
Last modified:22 March 2022 08.36 a.m.
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