29 November 2017

International review committee:

Research School for Theoretical Physics ‘excellent and of great added value’

An international review committee led by Prof. Daan Frenkel from Cambridge University has granted the Dutch Research School for Theoretical Physics a rating of ‘excellent’ for all criteria: quality, relevance and viability. The committee observes that the School’s staff and students feel it provides a great deal of added value. It is also of vital importance for the field of theoretical physics in the Netherlands, as it serves as the premiere national platform for this area of research.

Henk Stoof
Prof. Henk Stoof

Scientific Director Prof. Henk Stoof from Utrecht University is pleased with the results of the review. The committee’s recommendations can be summarised as: ‘Recognise, value and never lose sight of the strengths the School currently offers’. Stoof: “For us, this is a confirmation of our philosophy that it is good to let PhD candidates become acquainted with other branches of theoretical physics.”

From string theory to soft condensed matter

The Dutch Research School for Theoretical Physics (DRSTP) is a collaborative effort between the theoretical physics groups at six Dutch universities and the research institute Nikhef. Its mission is to encourage the sharing of knowledge between the various fields of research, which range from string theory to soft condensed matter and biophysics. PhD candidates from the participating research groups attend a compulsory programme of two courses (2 weeks each), Summer Schools, a PhD day and a biannual Trends in Theory symposium.

Great added value

Both the staff and the students feel that the Research School offers a great deal of added value. However, the PhD candidates stated that they would also like to be able to attend more in-depth courses in their own field of research. “On the other hand, it’s been our experience that becoming acquainted with other fields of research is extremely useful. You might not apply it right away, but eventually that knowledge will prove its worth.Other (international) Summer Schools offer  more in-depth courses”, says Stoof.

ITP is a ‘jewel’

Stoof’s statements are backed up by the recent review visit of Utrecht University’s Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP), which concluded that ITP is one of the few theoretical research institutes in the world that are capable of conducting ground-breaking research in every aspect of an exceptionally broad field of research. ITP researchers are able to realise synergy and interesting research partnerships both within their institute and outside its walls. According to the review committee, it is “a jewel among theoretical physics research institutes world wide”.  

In demand in the job market

The added value of the Dutch Research School for Theoretical Physics is not limited to its broader perspective on research, however. The committee observed that in its activities, the school encourages PhD candidates to practice their academic skills and to develop their career perspective. The theoretical physicists who graduate from the school are in high demand in the job market, both in the academic world and in other areas, especially consultancy and ICT.