Ewine van Dishoeck
Professor of Molecular astrophysics
Ewine van Dishoeck researches molecules in space. She has gained world fame with her pioneering work. Her current passion is the hunt for water and the water cycle in space. This will provide answers to questions such as: where does the water in our rivers come from? And: could there be life on other planets?
Ewine van Dishoeck helped develop the most powerful telescopes in the world. She conducts research into thin, ice-cold clouds of gas that are found between the stars close to our own solar system, including in the Orion Nebula, of which the Hubble telescope has made such breath-taking images. These gas clouds contain all sorts of molecules that are already interesting in themselves: due to the unusual conditions in space, molecules are present that are not present on earth, or only very rarely. But another fascinating thing also occurs in many of these gas clouds: new stars and planets are born. Van Dishoeck looks at the formation process of these celestial bodies, and studies which molecules in these clouds will end up on one of these new planets.
Van Dishoeck has been awarded many prizes and honours, including the Spinoza Prize, the highest academic award in the Netherlands. She has also secured numerous research grants. Van Dishoeck is also known for her work on the development of different telescopes. These are nearly always international collaboration projects in which Van Dishoeck assumes the role of bringing together people, resources and organisations.
Van Dishoeck conducts her research from the Leiden Observatory. With this observatory, Leiden University has one of the most illustrious institutes of astronomy in the world. Like Van Dishoeck, her colleagues astronomers Marijn Franx and Xander Tielens, have also been awarded the Spinoza Prize, which is a unique occurrence in the Netherlands: three such prizes in a single institute.