Royal Academy selects fifteen new members

23 May 2013

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has selected fifteen new members. Academy members are prominent researchers active in all the disciplines. New members are nominated by peers from within and outside the Academy.
The Academy has approximately five hundred members, divided between its Humanities and Social Sciences Division and its Science Division. Members are appointed for life.

The new members will be installed on Monday 30 September 2013 at the Trippenhuis Building, the Academy’s headquarters.

The new members of the Academy are:

Humanities and Social Sciences Division (humanities, law, behavioural sciences and social sciences)

Bas van Bavel (born in 1964), Utrecht University, whose innovative and interdisciplinary research has given us a new perspective on the economic history of the Middle Ages. His research covers the early Middle Ages to the Modern Age and stretches from the Low Countries to Iraq. Van Bavel’s analysis of the pre-industrial economy has fundamentally changed our view of the role of markets.

Eveline Crone (born in 1975), Leiden University and University of Amsterdam, carries out highly innovative research into brain processes in adolescence using MRI scans. Research conducted by her Brain & Development Lab may offer reference points for adapting education and society to adolescents’ capacities. Crone is the author of Het puberende brein and makes frequent appearances in the media. She was a member of The Young Academy from 2008 to 2013.

Eddy van Doorslaer (born in 1958), Erasmus University Rotterdam, studies equity in health and health care. His work has greatly influenced the international research agenda. The methods he has developed have become standard for measuring inequity in health and in access to health care. His work has produced key insights for policy discussions concerning publicly financed health care.

Martin van Hees (born in 1964), University of Amsterdam, focuses on analysing moral and political values in his research. He is concerned with the relationship between social justice and individual freedom, but in his most recent research he also considers who can be held responsible for the outcomes of collective decision-making processes (the "many hands problem"). His research is highly interdisciplinary in nature.

Annemarie Mol (born in 1958), University of Amsterdam, is an anthropologist who studies every day, clinical and scientific practices related to the human body, for example healing, caring, eating and drinking. Her research combines insights gained in various disciplines, including anthropology, philosophy, medical sociology and the sociology of science, and she has succeeded in breaking down existing conceptual barriers.

Christoph Lüthy (born in 1964), Radboud University Nijmegen, studies the scientific revolution between 1600 and 1800, in particular the development of the concept of matter in natural philosophy. He also considers contemporary issues, for example social engineering and the concept of responsibility in science. Lüthy was a member of the Young Academy from 2005 to 2010.

Henriëtte de Swart (born in 1961), Utrecht University, gained international renown with her important contribution to theoretical semantics: the study of meaning in natural language. Her technically innovative work is based on French semantics, but she has played a pioneering role in the development of cross-linguistic semantics and the use of semantic insights in analysing interaction and in linguistic typology. She is the author of Introduction to Natural Language.

Science Division (mathematics, physics, astronomy, earth sciences, life sciences and technical sciences).

Alfons van Blaaderen (born in 1963), Utrecht University, has conducted pioneering research into the self-organising ability of colloid particles. Colloid particles arrange themselves and spontaneously form new structures under the influence of electrical fields or currents in liquids, for example. This is an important step for the development of smart materials with new properties, but it may also lead to new insights in fundamental processes such as crystallisation.

Joke Bouwstra (born in 1956), Leiden University, conducts research that bridges the gap between chemistry, pharmaceutical science and medicine. She has applied a broad range of techniques to map the barrier function of the skin at molecular level. The upper layer of the skin protects the body against excessive moisture loss from inside and against intruders from outside. Fats play a key role in the skin’s barrier function. Bouwstra’s discoveries about the skin barrier are leading to new methods of vaccination and more effective treatments for skin disorders.

Han Brunner (born in 1956), UMC St Radboud, plays a leading role in clinical genetics. He studies the causes of intellectual disabilities and congenital defects. Brunner uses his experience as a physician to raise new research questions that can be explored in the laboratory. His research is helping to develop a new form of diagnostics in which an illness is treated within the context of the patient’s genetic background.

Ronald Cramer (born in 1968), CWI Amsterdam and Leiden University, studies cryptography, the mathematics of digital security, for example as used in Internet transactions. The Cramer-Shoup crypto system that he and his American colleague Victor Shoup published was the first practical system resistant to active attacks. The system became an international standard. Cramer also designed a system for secure collaboration between parties that do not trust each other. He has developed new, ground-breaking applications for classical mathematics in cryptography. Cramer was one of the first members of The Young Academy.

Roland Kanaar (born in 1961), Erasmus MC, has made an important contribution to our understanding of genetic stability in relation to cancer and congenital disorders. In his research, he investigates the process of DNA damage and recovery at all levels. Cells can repair quite a lot of damage; unfortunately, they also repair damage to tumours induced by radiation therapy. Kanaar recently demonstrated that one of the DNA repair systems is deactivated when a tumour is heated to 42 degrees Celsius. Combined with medication, this may offer certain cancer sufferers an effective new treatment.

René Medema (born in 1964), Netherlands Cancer Institute and UMC Utrecht, has made a major contribution to our understanding of how cell division is regulated. He studies the mechanisms that ensure genetic stability in healthy cells, specifically the functioning of cell cycle checkpoints, which monitor the fidelity of chromosome segregation during cell division. Errors in chromosome segregation play a key role in the development of cancer. Medema and his group are investigating potential cancer treatments.

Corné Pieterse (born in 1964), Utrecht University, conducts pioneering research into systemic resistance to pathogens in plants. Every year, much of the world’s food production is lost to crop disease or damage. Pieterse studies how plant immune systems protect plants against enemies such as micro-organisms and insects. Plant hormones play a role in such defences, but plants also depend for their survival on beneficial microbes to stimulate their immune system.

Richard van de Sanden (born in 1964), director of the Dutch Institute For Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER) and professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, has devoted his career to seeking the connection between fundamental research and practical applications. His ground-breaking research focuses on unravelling the physical and chemical processes in plasmas, which play an important role in the innovative production of solar cells. At DIFFER, he heads research into nuclear fusion and the storage and transport of renewable energy in the form of solar fuels.

Foreign members

The Academy has also selected two foreign members:

Kenneth Buesseler (born in 1959), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA, studies methods of detecting radioactivity in oceans. Based on these measurements, he investigates how plankton particles can facilitate CO2 absorption in the ocean. He conducted tests in the 1980s after the Chernobyl disaster and was able to measure how quickly thorium particles sank to the bottom of the ocean. His research gained world headlines last year when he found high levels of radioactive contamination in fish caught off the east coast of Japan some 18 months after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

Laurens Molenkamp (born in 1956), University of Würzburg, studies semiconductor spintronics and has achieved an impressive series of breakthroughs in this field. His discovery of the quantum spin Hall effect in thin layers of mercury telluride provided the basis for a new field of research on topological insulators. He is in the frontlines of research into the fundamental physics of these materials and the exploration of potential spintronic applications.