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Jan Reedijk receives honorary doctorate at Polish university

He had been emeritus for 13 years when he suddenly received an email from Poland. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry Jan Reedijk was awarded an honorary doctorate from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. During the celebration of the 550th anniversary of the birth of patron Nicolaus Copernicus, Reedijk received the doctorate. ‘I gladly dedicate this honour and recognition to my students and staff.’

‘Honorary doctorates are always something very special,’ says scientific director of LIC Marcellus Ubbink. ‘A university only awards one or two a year. This is often to researchers who have contributed a lot to a particular discipline or to people who have been very important to academia or society for other reasons. So for someone from our institute to receive such an honour is very special.’

For Reedijk, the award came unexpectedly. ‘I was in total astonishment when I received the email six weeks ago. It feels very special and I am very honoured because it is the highest academic degree possible.’

Guiding scientists from Poland

A colleague from the Polish university informed Reedijk that he is receiving the honorary doctorate for several aspects. ‘In recognition of his contribution to the fields of coordination chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry, his training and mentoring of scientists from Poland, and his service to the international scientific community.’ Reedijk has been working with universities in Poland since 1989. ‘I have had several (guest) employees from Poland. Most of them were from Toruń. I was also a guest professor there for a short period in 2012.’

Only two other Dutch Scientists received an honorary doctorate from Copernicus University, including Leiden astronomer JH Oort in 1973. ‘Former president of Poland Lech Walesa (1990) and Pope John Paul II (2004) also received an honorary doctorate from this university,’ says Reedijk.’They award only one per year on average, so I feel extra honoured.’

An annual symposium named after Jan Reedijk

Reedijk had an impressive career in Leiden and Delft. He obtained his Ph.D. from the Faculty of Science in the 1960s. He then worked in Chemistry for many years: from 1979 to 2009 as a professor and then as an emeritus professor. He was also head of the LIC from 1993 to 2005. ‘He has supervised an enormous number of Ph.D. students and authored a very impressive number of publications in coordination chemistry,’ says Ubbink. Copernicus University also confirms this. ‘Prof Jan Reedijk's research output includes more than 1,200 articles in top scientific journals. The professor is one of the most cited inorganic chemists in the world.’

Ubbink looks back with pride at Reedijk's many special moments at the faculty. ‘I remember Jan's farewell lecture very well. It was with the so-called toga protocol, where all professors came to listen to the lecture wearing togas. After his farewell, the annual institute symposium was named after Jan Reedijk. Jan attended all lectures and always askes very sharp questions to the speakers.’

Award for 'his entire oeuvre'

Reedijk dedicates the doctorate to everyone he has worked with in the past years. ‘Several hundred students have graduated with me, and I have worked with ninety Ph.D. students and a hundred postdocs in all these years. Without their dedication and brilliant research ideas, this beautiful recognition would not have come.’

LIC is very proud that Reedijk is receiving this honour. ‘As scientific director, I am happy and proud of Jan and 'his entire oeuvre' for receiving this recognition. It is highly deserved! We hope Jan will continue to walk into our institute and attend the annual symposium for many years to come.’

Images and additional information: Andrzej Romański/Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. All photos can be found on the Nicolaus Copernicus University website.

Watch the whole ceremony at this link. The part of Reedijk's honorary doctorate can be seen from minute 17 to 58.

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