Spinoza Prize for Ronald Hanson, Stevin Prize for Jack Pronk
NWO announced today that TU Delft's Ronald Hanson and Jack Pronk have been awarded an NWO Spinoza Prize and an NWO Stevin Prize respectively. The Spinoza and Stevin Prizes are the most prestigious awards in Dutch science. Besides the two TU Delft professors, prizes were also awarded to Bas van Bavel, Yvette van Kooyk and Amina Helmi (Spinoza) and Andrea Evers (Stevin). Each of the laureates receives 2.5 million euros to spend on scientific research.
The researchers received their prizes for their outstanding, pioneering and inspiring work. Both prizes focus on the quality of the researcher: for the Spinoza Prize the emphasis is on the scientific work and fundamental questions, while the Stevin Prize primarily honours the social impact.
Ronald Hanson (born 1976) is Professor of Quantum Physics at TU Delft and Director of Research at QuTech. Hanson is fascinated by an exceptional phenomenon known as entanglement, in which two entangled particles behave as one single particle, even when separated by a large distance. This entanglement is an important condition for the working of future quantum communication, quantum cryptography and quantum computers.
Hanson conducted several important experiments that have brought a future unhackable quantum internet a step closer. Among other things, his approach led to a groundbreaking experiment in which he was able to entangle particles over a kilometre apart and could teleport information from one particle to the other.
“A physical phenomenon only becomes reality when you see it happen with your own eyes. And the unique thing about these times is that we can actually observe it. For a long time, we were limited to passive observation of the effects of quantum mechanics, but now we are able to actively determine what happens. This means that not only can we perform fundamental experiments that were not previously possible, but we can also explore practical applications.”
A physical phenomenon only becomes reality when you see it happen with your own eyes. And the unique thing about these times is that we can actually observe it.Prof.dr.ir. Ronald Hanson
Hanson obtained his MSc in Applied Physics at the University of Groningen in 1999 and his PhD at TU Delft in 2005. During the last ten years, he has played a significant role in boosting quantum science. He was also one of the founding members of QuTech, a collaboration between TU Delft and TNO aimed at exploring future applications of quantum science.
Hanson, who has already received several major awards for his work, has the ability to identify successful research fields, to motivate people to get involved, and to generate funding. He has put his name to more than 75 publications, 13 of which are in Nature and Science. Moreover, as an authority in the field of quantum science he is a frequently asked speaker or expert, both for scientific purposes and for a wider audience.
Jack Pronk (born 1963) is Professor of Industrial Microbiology at TU Delft. He gained international fame through his ability to translate fundamental scientific knowledge about the working of yeasts and moulds into a wide range of commercial applications which have had a major impact on society. For example, he was able to alter bakers’ yeast in such a way that this micro-organism could create ethanol from non-edible plant remains in a clean and efficient way.
“Time and time again you see that micro-organisms are just as creative as we are in finding solutions. Constantly learning to understand new things, and being able to develop new solutions based on that understanding makes this research extremely special. That's what makes it so much fun.”
Time and time again you see that micro-organisms are just as creative as we are in finding solutions.Prof.dr. Jack Pronk
Jack Pronk, who obtained his MSc in Biology at Leiden University in 1986 and his PhD at TU Delft in 1991, has a real ability to connect people. He has a passion for conducting top-quality research with maximum potential for application and he is untiring in his efforts to build bridges between the university and the business sector. Pronk has not only published many important scientific articles, he also has his name on 25 patents which are much-used in industry.
Something that really sets Pronk's pulse racing is teaching. In 2015 he was chosen as Best Professor at TU Delft; he feels personally that this was possibly the best award of his entire career. “If I really had to choose between teaching and research, I would choose teaching every time.”
Rector Magnificus and President of the Executive Board Tim van der Hagen is of course extremely proud of the two Delft laureates. “These are the highest awards in Dutch science, receiving them is a great honour. Jack and Ronald are not only top-quality scientists, they are also outstanding in other areas, such as teaching and collaboration with the business sector.”
This year's NWO Spinoza Prize and Stevin Prize awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday 2 October in the Koninklijke Schouwburg in The Hague.