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Three Leiden professors appointed members of KNAW

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) has appointed 26 new members. Three of them are Leiden professors: Luuk de Ligt, Lisa Cheng and Marc Koper. The new Academy professors will be installed on 8 June.

Lisa Cheng, Professor of General Linguistics

Lisa Cheng compares Chinese languages with African and European languages. She is known for her analyses of interrogative sentences containing a question word (who, what, where). In languages such as Dutch the question word always comes at the start of the sentence, in Mandarin it never does and in French it sometimes does. Yet they are all the same questions. By comparing different languages, Cheng is aiming to work out the essence of the grammar of human language.  She also coordinates a major European study on all kinds of facets of multilingualism. 

Marc Koper, Professor of Catalysis and Surface Chemistry

Marc Koper is an internationally renowned electrochemist. He explains what happens at atomic level on the surface of electrodes. Koper's research makes it possible to devise better catalysts for such applications as the conversion of carbon dioxide into fuel. Koper collaborates with chemical companies on the production, storage and conversion of sustainable energy. 

Luuk de Ligt, Professor of Ancient History

Luuk de Ligt is an expert in the area of Roman history. He has translated extensive sections of the most important Roman legal texts and published authoritative studies on the Roman Empire. De Ligt studies such topics as how markets functioned in the Graeco-Roman world, the social structure of ancient cities and the role of cities within the Roman Empire. He combines literary and legal sources with archaeological data, uses economic and demographic models and compares the Roman Empire with other large, ancient empires such as China. 

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) selects a small number of prominent researchers every year to become members of the Academy on the basis of their scientific achievements. This year 26 new members have been chosen, including the extra round of nominations for female scientists that KNAW held in the context of the Westerdijk Year. Membership of KNAW is for life. The Academy currently has some five hundred members