The C.J. Kok Jury award has been awarded to over a hundred talented young scientists, many of whom continued to become very successful in their profession.
Three notable first winners
In the very first year, 1971, the prize was won by Rob Schilperoort, who later became a professor of biochemistry at Leiden University. Moreover, he is still remembered as a pioneer in modern plant biology, co-authoring two milestone Nature papers describing the tumor-inducing element of Agrobacterium in the mid-1970s. Following these discoveries, he made pivotal contributions to the plant transformation technologies that are still in use today and which gave birth to the fields of plant molecular biology and plant biotechnology.
Up until 2003, the C.J. Kok Jury Award had multiple recipients. Schilperoort shared his 1971 prize with two notable chemists. Lous van Vloten-Doting later became director of the Dutch Plant Protection Service and held a professorship in Nijmegen. John Bol became professor and later director at the Institute for Molecular Plant Science. Another notable early prize winner was the influential professor of molecular genetics Paul Hooykaas (1976), who is often co-credited with Schilperoort for his pioneering work with Agrobacterium.
Current Faculty of Science professors
Many other prize winners continued their careers at our Faculty of Science or eventually returned there. Current Leiden University professors Meindert Danhof (pharmacy, 1980), Hans Metz (biology, 1981), Carlo Beenakker (physics, 1984), Aad van der Vaart (mathematics, 1986), Huub de Groot (chemistry, 1987), Marijn Franx (astronomy, 1988), Herman Spaink (biology, 1988), Bob van de Water (drug research, 1996), Remko Offringa (biology, 2004) and Joost Batenburg (mathematics, 2006) all won the prize for their thesis. See also the list of all winners since 1971.
Success outside Leiden
Many other prize winners became professors at other universities. Eric Mazur (physics, 1981) was appointed at Harvard University, Theo Odijk (chemistry, 1984) was a professor in both Leiden and Delft, Pauline Schaap (biology, 1986) is a professor in Dundee, and Sjoerd Verduyn Lunell (mathematics, 1988) was dean of our Faculty of Science from 2007 until 2012 and is now a professor at the University of Utrecht. A recent successful winner is biologist Changsheng Wu, who was awarded the prize in 2016 en became a professor at Shangdong University just two years later. Read his story here: 30 years and Professor: the story of Changsheng Wu.