DEAN Alumni event Zurich

27 September 2023 12:00 till 14:00 - By: Alumni Relations | Add to my calendar

Did you know that nearly a tenth of our 1000+ Zurich based alumni work at either ETH or UZH? What scientific research are the current PhD-candidates among them involved with and excited about?

Meet the next generation of potential global changemakers on Wednesday 27 September during a special lunch edition DEAN* alumni gathering in Zurich at the ETH Alumni Pavilion. This will be a great opportunity to network with fellow 4TU alumni over lunch while also hearing short pitches from a lineup of young alumni researchers in the early stages of their careers who will be rotating between the tables.

This event is free for alumni from the Dutch Technical Universities but for logistical reasons, prior registration is required.


12:00 - 12:30 PM



12:30 - 12:40 PM

Welcome words by your TU's


12:40 - 01:40 PM

Pitches by alumni reseachers (4 rotations)


01:40 - 01:50 PM



01:50 - 02:00 PM




Please register to secure your spot. Spaces are limited, so make sure to reserve your place early!

If you cannot attend but still wish to be informed about future events, please complete the registration form with your current contact information. 

Please note that registrations are processed by the alumni office of TU Delft.


ETH Alumni Pavillon

8001 Zürich, Switzerland

The Alumni Pavillon is on ETH Zurich’s main campus (ETH Zentrum), right next to the ETH Zentrum Polybahn (funicular) station and just below the main building (named HG on the map).

Walk past the Polybahn station, past the bike parking area and down the stairs. You will then stand right in front of the entrance of the Alumni Pavillon which is to the right at the bottom of the stairs. 


Floor van Donkelaar

(alumna University Twente), UZH


I'm Floor van Donkelaar, a computational astrophysicist currently residing in Zürich. I'm pursuing my PhD at the University of Zürich, where I'm deeply intrigued by the fascinating world of galaxy formation and evolution, with a particular focus on late-type galaxies like our own Milky Way. In my research, I strive to gain a clearer understanding of these processes by delving into various aspects of galactic structures. This includes investigating phenomena such as stellar clusters, intermediate mass black holes, stellar migration, disc formation, gas accretion, and much more. My ultimate goal is to unravel some of the secrets hidden within the vast realms of galaxies. My academic journey led me to Switzerland following the completion of my master's degree in astrophysics at Lund University in Sweden (and could say I love the countries starting with "Sw")  and my bachelor’s in sociotechnical engineering at the University of Twente.

Ana Nap

(alumna TU Delft), UZH


My name is Ana Nap and following my bachelor's degree in Earth Science in Utrecht, I sought a more applied master's program focused on geophysics. Which is how I, quite logically you might say, ended up at the master Applied Geophysics, a joint master’s degree between the TU Delft, ETH Zürich and RWTH Aachen. During this master, I discovered my interest for seismology and also got more interested in utilizing geophysics for climate science and the energy transition, rather than traditional exploration. In 2020, I wrote my thesis at ETH Zürich, where I researched a novel measurement technique called Distributed Acoustic Sensing, which uses fiber optic cables as seismic sensors. Early 2021, I started my PhD at the university of Zürich in glacier seismology.
When first hearing of my current project I was directly enthusiastic. For me it combines the best of many worlds: seismology, a direct connection to climate science, some coding and absolutely thrilling fieldworks in Greenland. The goal of my project is to get a better understanding of the ice flow dynamics of Greenland’s fastest outlet glacier, ultimately contributing to more accurate sea-level rise predictions.

Thijs Smit

(alumnus TU Delft), ETH


My name is Thijs Smit. I graduated in 2017 as a mechanical engineer at the TUD. After 2 years of working in industry, I joined ETH Zurich for a PhD in Biomechanics. I am applying a 'technique' from mechanical engineering, topology optimization, to optimize patient-specific spinal fusion implants. These optimized implants are solving several issues that current implants suffer from. My thesis defence is planned for the end of the year, and I am preparing to commercialize the methods I developed after my PhD.

Bart Thomson

(alumnus University Twente), UZH


I am Bart Thomson and I have always been fascinated by the human body. To further pursue this interest I started with Human Movement Sciences in Groningen, after which I quickly transitioned to Technical Medicine at the University of Twente. I figured out that I wanted to drive medicine forward at scale. Given the simultaneous onset of AI in the medical field I gravitated towards the cross roads of computer vision and medicine. In my PhD I focus on identifying patients at risk for a setback following a certain type of stroke. In parallel I have identified important characteristics of the disease that can be targeted for treatment. During my PhD I’ve learned that I’m mainly excited by the possibilities of medical imaging and making an impact which is larger than an individual patient. Hence I would like to move into the industry to further leverage medical image analysis for patient benefit.

Mathieu Verpaalen

(alumnus Wageningen University), ETH


I’m Mathieu Verpaalen and following my Bachelor studies (HBO) in Biomedical Research at Breda, I acquired my master's from Wageningen, where I studied Biotechnology with the Medical specialization. I mostly chose courses involving the gut microbiome. For my master thesis I worked on in vitro and a little bit of in silico modelling of synthetic gut microbiota communities to further understand the interactions between bacterial species in a community context. After the thesis, I did a 7-month internship in Switzerland at Nestlé in the Fermentation Technology group. Here I was working on screening potential novel probiotic strains for application in babies. I did quite like the industrial way of working, and also wanted to stay for a longer time in Switzerland.

Valery Visser

(alumna TU Eindhoven), UZH


I’m Valery Visser, a researcher with an interest in the biomechanical behavior of soft tissues from both an engineering and a biomedical perspective. In the past I have worked on analyzing age-related changes in brain tissue at the Stevens Institute in New York, on the effect of mechanics on cell-cell signaling at the Technical University of Eindhoven, and I’m currently a PhD candidate at the University of Zurich where I am studying heart valves. We develop a fascinating new type of heart valve implants that transform into living tissues when we implant them in the body. My research specifically aims to study the design of these implants in order to develop an improved implant that lasts for a lifetime. In order to achieve this, I develop in-silico models that show us how heart valves are growing in the body, which I support and validate with in-vitro experiments. My research is highlighting the benefits of interdisciplinary and cooperative work in science.

Anna de Vries

(alumna TU Eindhoven), ETH


My name is Anna de Vries. 9 years ago I was determined to find out what the world was made of, and so I went to study Chemical Engineering & Chemistry at TU Eindhoven. An exchange semester first brought me to (ETH) Zurich. Which is where I stayed, first for a Master's degree in Process Engineering and a now a doctorate program (PhD). In my PhD I am developing a novel carbon capture technology that is entirely driven by sunlight! This technology has massive potential to reduce the energy demand for carbon capture. My ambition is to take this technology out of the lab, to the world at scale by 2030.

Marijn Ceelen

(alumnus Wageningen University), ETH


I am Marijn and I’m from the Netherlands where I studied Biotechnology at Wageningen University. There I did my bachelor thesis on the effect of recombination on antibiotic resistance evolution in E. coli. During my masters I participated in the iGEM synthetic biology competition (2019) together with a team of students. We managed to win the second prize with our project on a cure for plant pathogen Xylella fastidiosa. Lastly, I went to the Fineran Lab in Dunedin, New Zealand, for half a year to work on regulation of anti-​CRISPR expression in a bacteriophage.

The main topic of my PhD research is the effect of Horizontal Gene Transfer on the evolution of bacterial predator Myxoccocus xanthus. I am investigating this by supplying M. xanthus with a library of foreign DNA and then experimentally evolving it on a library of prey bacteria. Additionally, I am interested in investigating the history of HGT in M. xanthus with bioinformatics. The aim is to increase our understanding of the evolutionary history of M. xanthus. Additionally, this approach could be used to develop a strain for biological control of plant pests.

About DEAN

The Dutch Engineers Alumni Network (DEAN) of TU Delft, University of Twente, Wageningen University and TU Eindhoven launched its activities in 2014 and currently has communities in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Nordics, Spain and Switzerland. By bringing together the engineers that studied in the Netherlands, we hope to create valuable communities for our alumni. We encourage members to use these communities for sharing both achievements and information as well as tapping into the expertise of each other. 

Dutch engineers work across a wide range of sectors, and are affiliated not only with the most prestigious organisations of their fields but in many cases also self-funded start-ups. Some of them may have only recently completed their studies in the Netherlands while others have already lived in one of these countries for a decade or more. This network, therefore, represents a significant source of skills, contacts, and advice.