Arwen Deuss wins NWO Athena Award

Seismologist Arwen Deuss receives the Athena Award, an award from NWO for remarkable female researchers who are role models for others.

Arwen Deuss

Arwen Deuss wins the Athena Award because the jury considers her a role model: she is at the scientific top, she is an inspiring mentor and she is active in outreach activities. The jury praises her commitment to creating an academic environment in which women can make a career. Deuss was able to make a scientific impact early on in her career: as a student, she provided proof that the earth has a solid inner core and not a liquid one as was believed at the time. She has since been granted many scientific grants and awards, and stood out during her contributions to various tv shows.

Just what I like

Arwen considers it an honour to receive this Athena Award. And she is also surprised: “I just do what I really like personally, and that is doing fundamental research into the bowels of the earth together with my research group of PhD students. Besides that, I really enjoy telling inspiring stories about my research, which is why I do a lot of outreach, such as television shows and YouTube lectures for Universiteit van Nederland. Children are very enthusiastic because of their (still) boundless curiosity. Does that make me a role model? Maybe it does, but that's not something I planned for!”


“I think it's very important that children realise that if you have an ambition, you should go for it and not let anything stop you. With the award money, I want to do something to encourage young girls and women, and give them the confidence to follow their ambitions. And above all to always be curious about the world around them and take nothing for granted, because curiosity is the most important characteristic for a scientist!” 

The earth: a picture

Arwen Deuss's research includes studies of the structure of the earth’s core, mantle discontinuities and the use of vibration of the entire earth (just like how a bell can toll) to make pictures of our planet. Her aim is to link seismology to other disciplines such as mineralogy, geodynamic modelling and geochemistry to discover what causes the heterogeneous variations in the Earth. Ultimately, this will give us an idea of how the earth moves and changes over time. 

NWO Athena Award

The Athena Award is for remarkable female researchers. With this award, the NWO Domain of Science wants to draw attention to female scientists who excel and are therefore role models for others. Role models are important for starting researchers and show that a career in science is possible. Every year, two winners are appointed for the Athena Award. The laureates each receive a sum of € 50K. That sum is meant for funding the laureate's research.