6 November 2018

Ellen Sterk wins AkzoNobel Graduation Prize for Chemistry and Process Technology 2018

Ellen Sterk, winnares van de AkzoNobel Afstudeerprijs voor Chemie en Procestechnologie 2018

The Royal Netherlands Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW) has named Ellen Sterk as the winner of the AkzoNobel Graduation Prize for Chemistry and Process Technology 2018. Ellen Sterk completed her Master’s in Nanomaterials at Utrecht University, and will soon start working as a PhD candidate in the research group led by Prof. Bert Weckhuysen at the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials in Utrecht.

Pioneer

“During her Master’s, Ellen Sterk started researching a field that we at Utrecht University hadn’t paid much attention to: the theoretical quantum chemical modelling of catalytic reactions”, according to Charlotte Vogt, her day-to-day thesis supervisor. “I had come up with a very challenging project in that area, and then I went looking for a strong student to take it on. And Ellen has exceeded all of our expectations. We’re all extremely proud of her!” Sterk focuses specifically on a reaction that reduces CO2 emissions in the atmosphere. Her research has already provided a significant contribution to a scientific publication, and according to her thesis supervisors Professor Bert Weckhuysen (UU) and Dr. Ivo Filot (TU/e), her Master’s thesis was nothing less than ‘excellent’.

Exceptional talent

Professor Bert Weckhuysen: “Ellen Sterk is an exceptionally talented, creative, and intelligent student. She has performed an enormous amount of fundamental research. She has a knack for explaining her abstract work in an easy-to-understand way, and she has shown that she has mastered the theory at a level that is highly unusual for a Master’s student.”

Award

The AkzoNobel Graduation Prize for Chemistry and Process Technology 2018 includes a cash prize of 5,000 euros. The prize will be presented during the festive awards ceremony for all of the KHMW’s Young Talent prizes, which will be held in Haarlem on the afternoon of Monday, 26 November.

Last year’s winner of the AkzoNobel Graduation Prize for Chemistry and Process Technology was Michelle van der Helm (in Dutch) a student at Delft University of Technology.