6 February 2018

Utrecht University confers two honorary doctorates

Utrecht University will confer two scientific honorary doctorates to legal Scholar Joan C. Williams and physicist Albert-László Barabási during the 382nd Dies Natalis of Utrecht University. Through these honorary doctorates, the University wishes to express its great appreciation of the individuals receiving these doctorates and their work.

Prof. Joan Williams

Combating Social Gender Inequality 

Joan Williams is a Professor of Law at UC Hastings in San Francisco and founder and director of the Center for WorkLife Law. She received her training at Yale, M.I.T. and the Harvard Law School. Williams researches gender inequality, class differences and discrimination in the workplace.

She has set up various platforms and websites where employers and researchers are brought together to jointly develop new methods and procedures to counter unequal treatment in the workplace.

Williams is a highly respected and influential researcher. She was awarded an Outstanding Scholar Award by the American Bar Foundation in 2012. Due to the transdisciplinary significance of her work, she was chosen by Harvard University to give the Massey Lectures in American Civilization in 2008. Her prize-winning book 'Unbending Gender' is considered to be among the most quoted publications within her field of study.

Williams frequently writes for influential magazines such as the Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review Blog and The Psychology Today blog, so she plays a visible and active role in the social debate. According to The New York Times, Joan Williams acquired ‘rock star status’ due to her social involvement and groundbreaking research.

She has been awarded the honorary doctorate for her contribution to policy-making in respect of countering social inequality in the workplace. In this way, Williams demonstrates that scientific research fulfils a leading role in the realisation of an equal and diverse working environment. 

Prof. Albert-László Barabási

Netwerk theory as weapon against diseases 

Albert-László Barabási is a Professor by Special Appointment, a physicist and director of the Northeastern University for Complex Network Research (CCRN). The CCNR has a clear mission: think in terms of networks. Barabási’s groundbreaking discovery of the existence of scale-free networks made it clear, for the very first time, how networks such as the internet or mobile phones work and expand.

Barabási also linked scale-free networks and biological systems, such as the metabolic system. Through this link, Barabási became a pioneer in the field of network disease, a field of study in which network theory is applied to analyse, identify and treat disease symptoms.

Barabási is credited with several books, including the best sellers Linked: The New Science of Networks and Burst: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do. He was named Emil T. Hofmann Professor at the University of Notre Dame at the age of 32, making him the youngest professor ever to achieve this title. He was awarded several prizes for his research and scientific contributions, including the Cozzarelli Prize (2008) from the National Academies of Sciences (USA).

He has been awarded the honorary doctorate for his work on the structure and controllability of networks. In addition, he made important contributions to the practical application of network theory in many scientific disciplines, and he is exceptionally skilled in explaining scientific results to a broad audience.

Dies Natalis

The honorary doctorates will be conferred during the 382nd Dies Natalis of Utrecht University, on Monday 26 March 2018 at the Dom Church.