4 September 2017

Student awards for medical nanotechnology and language lessons for refugees

During the opening of the academic year, the next president of Utrecht University Anton Pijpers awarded the student prizes to Roos Ykema and Maarten Bransen. Ykema, a student of Environmental and Natural Sciences and Law at Utrecht University, has won the award for Exceptional Extracurricular AchievementsMaarten Bransen, alumnus of the Master's programme in Chemistry and Physics, has won the student award for the best Master’s thesis.

 

Best Master’s thesis
Winnaar van de studentenprijs Maarten Bransen.
Maarten Bransen, winner of the student award Best Master's Thesis. Photo by Maarten Nauw.

Maarten focused on improving the visibility of gold nanorods. These tiny rods consist of metals or (semi)conducting materials and are produced by means of chemical synthesis. Among other things, the nanorods are used in cancer treatments or for administering drugs to specific parts of the body.

'With my background in chemistry, I have noticed that there is still a great deal to be learnt about matters such as quantum mechanics and optics.'

Maarten's thesis shows how the properties of the rods can be controlled, thus enabling new medical applications. This may be of great importance for the treatment of various diseases, including cancer. Maarten's thorough and comprehensive research made a big impression on the jury. In the laudation, the jury stated that Maarten's breakthroughs will form the basis for promising new medical techniques.

Exceptional Extracurricular Achievements
Roos Ykema, winnaar studentenprijs.
Roos Ykema, winner of the student award Exceptional Extracurricular Achievements 2017. Photo by Maarten Nauw.

Together with over 50 language volunteers, almost all students, Roos is providing language lessons for refugees in the Kanaleneiland asylum seekers’ centre. The language lessons give refugees the opportunity to start learning the Dutch language while they are still waiting for a residence permit. Roos leads the team of volunteers. Together, they are helping to familiarise refugees with the Dutch language and culture.

'The positive reactions of the refugees and volunteers are inspiring.'

In their laudation, the jury revealed that they were full of admiration for Roos's initiative and were touched by her enthusiasm and dedication. The jury also stated that Roos's language lessons will have a major social impact in the future.