Student Awards 2014-2015 nominations announced

Seven nominations for the Student Awards 2014-2015 have been announced: four in the category Exceptional Extracurricular Achievements and three in the category Best Master's Degree Thesis. The two winners will be announced at the opening of the new academic year on Monday 31 August 2015. They will each receive a certificate, a cash prize in the amount of 1,500 euros, and a replica of the Sol sculpture outside University Hall.

The four nominees for the Exceptional Extracurricular Achievements Student Award are:

Advident /The Utrecht Association of Biologists Advisory Bureau
Jesse de Graaff (chairman), Michael Edelijn, Denise Groeneweg, Joshua Lambertus, Jeroen Heemsbergen are put forward for the creation of a student advisory bureau to tackle societal issues relating to ecology and toxicology. This provides opportunities for students in the biology sector to hone their professional skills and to prepare for the job market. Currently, 75% of the assignments comes from potential employers.

The bureau is also developing a blended training programme that will supplement and tie into the regularly scheduled Biology curriculum. In the near future, the bureau would like to create similar bureaus at other faculties so that, through cooperation, they will be able to accept assignments whose issues span multiple scientific disciplines.

Lourens Bloem
Lourens and half a dozen of his fellow students took the initiative in promoting both innovation and entrepreneurialism among Master's degree students of Pharmacy and fledgling pharmacists. After all, our society and our government demand that the roles of pharmacists must change; that they go from distributors to highly qualified caregivers for their patients.

He has also been active (administratively) in the Stichting Geluk en Vrijheid, a foundation that provides an unforgettable day-long automotive experience for chronically ill children and their families at a test track in Lelystad. His resume includes other administrative activities, chief among which, according to his sponsor, is his considerable contribution to the creation of a new curriculum for Pharmacy.

Karin van Trijp
Put forward for especially her work for the Wees een Lach foundation. Karin is active in many areas. Besides her work for the Casa Confetti building committee and her weekly contributions to scouting Wouw, she founded, developed, and expanded the Wees een Lach foundation in 2012. This foundation organises week-long fun fairs for orphans in Bulgaria. Students who participate, especially those from Social and Behavioural Sciences, can gain practical experience abroad. The foundation has since expanded its activities to other countries in Eastern Europe.

Meanwhile, Karin is following a one-year Master's degree programme and a two-year research master at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Engaging in these diverse pursuits gives her the energy, the inspiration and the focus to keep at all of them.

Samuel Fidder
Put forward for launching an educational initiative that allows young doctors to learn about healthcare management, finance, and logistics. Also for the Doctor Meets Director project.

The former project was conceived, in part, from his vision of what role doctors should play in Dutch healthcare in the near future. Samuel helped create the TIAS-MBE Summer Academy, where a new generation of doctors is challenged to take personal responsibility for the administrative, organisational, and financial challenges of healthcare.

Following on from that, he started a project that provided doctors with additional background information and to foster in them a better understanding of the administrative choices healthcare institutions have to make.

The three nominees for the Best Master's Degree Thesis Student Award are:

Kees Mulder
For his research master programme Methodology and Statistics for the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Kees Mulder wrote a thesis titled 'Extending Bayesian analysis of circular data to comparison of multiple groups'. In his thesis, Kees proposes a new method of analysing circular data. Researchers wanting to analyse data of this sort need entirely different tools than the ones they use for linear data. Few tools currently exist for the analysis of circular data because developing such tools within the classical statistics framework is inordinately challenging. Kees Mulder's solution arises from a clever application of so-called Bayesian methods, which operate fundamentally differently from traditional statistics.

The committee is impressed with this original approach to an important research problem, with the author's command of mathematics and statistics, and with the final product: a fully developed new method, ready for application by researchers from diverse disciplines. With his efforts, Kees Mulder has made an important and innovative contribution to the tool set of researchers in a wide range of scientific disciplines.

Guido van Miert
Guido van Miert's master's degree thesis for the Theoretical Physics research programme concerned 'Tight binding theory of spin-orbit coupling in graphynes'. Inspired by the spectacular properties of graphene, Guido van Miert performed theoretical research into a new class of materials: graphyne. In a short time, he developed groundbreaking new insights by developing new physics for a new class of materials. Due to the nature of the subject matter, explaining the results of this research presents a challenge.

For this reason, the jury was deeply impressed with the thesis' scientific rigour and the detailed illustrations that make his theoretical discoveries accessible. This master's degree thesis is very clearly written and structured. With this pioneering research, Guido van Miert has laid the groundwork for further development of graphyne research and made a name for himself as a highly talented, creative, and independent researcher.

Kinanya Pijl
For the Legal Research Master, Kinanya Pijl wrote a thesis with the title 'ICANN and human rights – A quest for safeguards to guarantee an Internet based on international human rights'. Kinanya's master's degree thesis investigates the responsibilities of ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in respecting universal human rights. ICANN is an international private organisation performing an important (semi­)public task: managing the internet's infrastructure, which includes sole authority over the assignation of domain names world-wide. In her thesis, Kinanya shows, among other things, that there is a clear and urgent need for the development of effective safeguards to ensure that ICANN respects human rights and does not abuse its power.

The jury is impressed with Kinanya's razor-sharp analysis of a topical problem of global importance. Her thesis shows enormous insight into the interplay of the infrastructure of the internet and the relevant legislation and legislatures. Her research is built on a strong methodological foundation and has resulted in a very clearly written thesis.