Alexander van Oudenhoven Discoverer of the year 2016
Environmental scientist Alexander van Oudenhoven has been chosen as Discoverer of the year of the Faculty of Science. Vice Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl announced this during the faculty’s New Year’s Reception on 10 January. Biologist Changsheng Wu won the prize for best dissertation of 2016. Computer scientist Frank Takes received the award for best teacher.
Colleagues, students, alumni and external parties could vote online for the Discoverer of the year up until the morning of the reception. The difference between number 1 and number 2 remained very small until the last hour, said Bijl. Computer scientist Frank Takes eventually ended up with 18.9 percent of the votes, almost reaching Van Oudenhoven who got 19.2 percent of the votes. Astronomer Anthony Brown reached the third place. A total of 824 persons voted, 135 more than in 2015. In the outcome, the size of the different institutes was weighed.
English lustrum book
Dean Geert de Snoo opened the New Year’s Reception in a full lecture room C1 on Tuesday afternoon. He paid attention to the scientific talents and discoveries of 2016, which he called a source of inspiration. In addition, De Snoo told to be proud of the new building of the faculty and the dedication of all the employees to realise the relocation – a picture of the Rector Magnificus who helped to mop after the flooding made the audience joyfully laugh. He also discussed the past lustrum year, marked by the recently published lustrum book of the faculty, From Cabinet of Curiosities to Science Park. The book describes 200 years of existence of the Faculty of Science and contains contributions of Willem Otterspeer, Dirk van Delft and Frans van Lunteren.
C.J. Kok Awards
After the introduction of De Snoo, Vice Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl announced two of the three prize winners of the afternoon. Mathematician Bijl is Vice Rector of Leiden University since 1 November. She mentioned that it is important to celebrate scientific breakthroughs together. Bijl handed out both C.J. Kok Awards: the one for the Discoverer of the year – received by a colleague of the absent Alexander van Oudenhoven – and the one for best dissertation of the year to Changsheng Wu.
The value of a forest
Discoverer of the year Van Oudenhoven examines the value of ecosystems, such as forests. These so-called ecosystem services do not only entail the financial value of for instance wood and fruit from the forest, but also the cultural services such as recreation, education and inspiration. Determining a financial value for these services is difficult; Van Oudenhoven searches for relevant indicators and makes them practicable for policymakers and administrators.
Newly discovered antibiotic
A five-member jury selected the winner of the C.J. Kok Award for best dissertation, Changsheng Wu. His thesis – also awarded the distinction cum laude – has an impressively wide and original approach, according to the jury. His research is about the quest for novel antibiotics, in a time where current medicines are ineffective due to multi-resistant bacteria. The thesis consists of ten chapters, of which eight have been published as an article and two are under review. The Kok-jury especially praises the chapter about the discovery of an antibiotic with a not previously documented structure: lugdunomycine. The jury also praises the runner-up of the award, mathematician Djordjo Milovic. His cum laude dissertation contains multiple breakthroughs in the field of prime numbers and statistics, after many years of stagnation.
New teaching materials and clear communication
Computer scientist Frank Takes received the Faculty award for teaching 2016 from the hands of assessor of the Faculty Board Maxim Allaart. The jury, consisting of a student from each of the study associations, chose Takes as best teacher of 2016 for the courses Social Network Analysis for Computer Scientists and Business Intelligence and Process Modelling. Takes has been working at Leiden University for only three years and has the right knowledge and the complimentary enthusiasm to transfer this knowledge, says the jury. The appreciation of his students is mainly based on his clear, newly developed teaching materials and his clear communication. Runner-up was Tonny Regensburg-Tuïnk, and Nora Goossen – nominated for two programmes – ended on the third place.