Ammodo KNAW Awards for eight top researchers in the Netherlands

25 January 2017

Ammodo and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) have announced today the winners of the Ammodo KNAW Awards in 2017 are Roshan Cools, Eveline Crone, Jeroen Geurts, Olivier Hekster, Alicia Montoya, Eva van Rooij, Appy Sluijs and Guido van der Werf. The laureates each receive a cash prize of 300,000 euros. They can use the money over the coming years to explore new areas of fundamental research.

The laureates are:

Olivier Hekster

Professor of Ancient History at the Radboud University in Nijmegen

Hekster (42) readdressed the past images of the “mad” Roman Emperors such as Nero, Caligula and Commodus by examining their use of the mass media of antiquity: effigies on coins, statues and inscriptions on buildings. How did these Emperors attempt to establish their power over the vast empire using such communications?

Jeroen Geurts

Head of Anatomy and Neurosciences at the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam

Geurts (38) was a pioneer in tracking difficult to detect abnormalities in the brains of MS patients. In the course of this work he came up with a new theory about the cause of MS, one which fundamentally differs from the theory that most of his colleagues have adhered to for many years.


Eva van Rooij

Professor of Molecular Cardiology at the University Medical Center Utrecht

Van Rooij (39) was the first person to discover that microRNA molecules, components of living cells which have only recently been discovered, play a role in heart diseases. She is currently investigating other molecular mechanisms that affect our cardiac cells. Is it perhaps possible to influence these so as to limit or even reverse damage to such cells? 

Appy Sluijs

Professor of Paleoceanography at the University of Utrecht.
Sluijs (36) discovered that 56 million years ago, due to a chain reaction in the oceans and the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect on the Earth increased significantly. Palm trees grew at the poles and the Arctic Ocean became as warm as a subtropical swimming pool. Could something similar happen again?


Roshan Cools

Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychiatry at the Radboud University in Nijmegen

Cools (41) discovered that medicines which affect our brains do not always have the same effect: a substance that increases concentration in one person’s brain, can actually reduce the flexibility of the brain. For someone else the effects may be the opposite. Cools is searching for the brain mechanisms behind something that has preoccupied philosophers throughout the ages: human will power.

Alicia Montoya

Professor of French Literature and Culture at the Radboud University in Nijmegen.

Montoya (44), through the study of 18th century library sales catalogues, discovered that at a time when the Enlightenment was changing beliefs throughout Europe, religious books remained bestsellers. She questioned the impact of the philosophical revolution outside the small circle of the intellectual elite i.e. on the wider population. Has the hegemony of knowledge and reason been overstated?

Guido van der Werf

University Professor of Global Carbon Cycle and Land Use Change at the Vrije University in Amsterdam.

Van der Werf (44) examines to what extent greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere because of the burning of forests, grasslands and peat bogs. With the help of models, satellite photos and drones he charts the contribution of burning, deforestation and the expansion of agricultural land to the greenhouse effect.

Eveline Crone

Professor of Neurocognitive Development Psychology at the University of Leiden.

Crone (41) discovered that not every part of the human brain develops at the same time. In puberty brain centers determining emotions develop more quickly than those which control rational decision making. This helps explain unrestrained, irresponsible and risky adolescent behaviour. How does the adolescent brain use this turbulent phase to learn to take creative but balanced decisions?

More information about the laureates and their research can be found at:

About the Ammodo KNAW Awards

The Ammodo KNAW Awards were established to encourage particularly talented researchers at a critical advanced stage of their scientific careers. Through the Awards Ammodo and the Academy wish to encourage original, unfettered scientific research in the Netherlands across the board.

Every two years, eight Ammodo KNAW Awards are awarded to internationally recognised researchers in four scientific areas: Biomedical Sciences, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. The winners must be connected to a university or research institute in the Netherlands and have received their doctorates a maximum of fifteen years ago. 

About Ammodo

Ammodo is an institute for the support of the arts and sciences. Together with renowned partners Ammodo initiates, develops and supports pioneering projects in the visual arts, performing arts and sciences. By offering outstanding artists and scientists the opportunity to develop and showcase their work, Ammodo encourages the development of art and science generally.

For more information, see

About the Academy

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) has three main tasks. It is an active association of outstanding scientists; it advises the government and encourages public debate on matters of scientific interest from an independent position; and it is responsible for fifteen internationally renowned research institutes in the fields of the humanities, the social sciences and the life sciences.