Alumnus of the Month

Alumnus of the Month is a section in which we draw attention to an alumnus with a special job or achievement.

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December 2020: Coen van der Kamp

Coen van der Kamp (Physics, 1976) recently won the Robbert Dijkgraaf Essay Prize for his essay 'De verstoorde droom' ('The disturbed dream').

Van der Kamp, retired physics teacher, received the prize during the Gala of Science. His (Dutch) essay on a smart newcomer in an old house can be read at New Scientist.

The annual essay competition is for alumni of Belgian and Dutch universities. This year's assignment was to write about the role of science in uncertain times. The winning essay will also be published in the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.

November 2020: Gerhard te Velde

Gerhard te Velde (Sociology; MSc Policy and Organization, 2007) is a business coach and podcast maker. With his podcast 'Groeivoer' (Feed for growth) he won the Dutch Podcast Award in the 'Business' category last month.

The Dutch Podcast Awards are an initiative of BNR Nieuwsradio and are presented annually. Since the award ceremony could not take place due to the corona measures, Te Velde received the award at home.

The Groeivoer podcast is aimed at entrepreneurs and offers inspiration in the field of business, entrepreneurship, company growth and personal growth. For more information and episodes, visit the Groeivoer website.

October 2020: Isa de Beer and Iris Zoet


Slowly but surely the parliamentary elections are coming again. However, many young people have little interest in politics. That must change, according to alumni Isa de Beer (BSc Biomedical Sciences, 2019) and Iris Zoet (BA Islam and Arabic, 2018).

That is why they started the KiesAdvies ('vote advice') podcast last summer. In this podcast they interview representatives of the youth organizations of political parties about their careers, ideas and political positions, specifically focused on themes that concern young people.
Several episodes (in Dutch) are now online. For an overview, see the website of KiesAdvies.

September 2020: Marrit Woudwijk

Marrit Woudwijk, winnaar Beste Masterscriptie 2020. Foto door: Lize Kraan
Marrit Woudwijk (photo: Lize Kraan)

During the recent Start of the Academic Year, the Student Prize for best Master's thesis was awarded to Marrit Woudwijk (MA Conflict Studies and Human Rights, 2020). In her thesis, The Lesser Truth - Truth Construction on Remote Warfare and the Case of the US-led anti-ISIS Coalition in Syria, she examined how Syrians think about the war that the Netherlands is waging there against the Islamic State.

The jury was impressed by the way in which Woudwijk has investigated this extremely relevant and topical subject, both analytically and methodologically. Last month she started her PhD research at the University of Humanistic Studies. 

Read more about Woudwijk's research in the (Dutch) article she published on The Correspondent.

August 2020: Eva González Pérez

Eva González Pérez, has been chosen as the most influential woman of 2021.

Eva González Pérez (Dutch Law, 2000) is a lawyer at Lawyers Collective Trias and also a member of the administrative law committee of the East Brabant court.

She is the driving force behind the disclosure of the surcharges affair, in which it emerged that the Tax and Customs Administration had wrongfully reclaimed child allowances and engaged in ethnic profiling. She has been supporting the duped parents since 2014. Together with politicians and journalists, she ensured that the affair became national news last year and was discussed in the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer).

Last month, OneWorld published an extensive interview with González Pérez (in Dutch), in which she talks about her work and the benefits affair. See also the edition of the Lawyers Tour with González Pérez and the feature in Mr. Studenten magazine (both in Dutch).

July 2020: Marta Verweij

Marta Verweij. Source: Symmetry Magazine

Marta Verweij (BSc Physics and Astronomy, 2006; MSc Particle Physics, 2009; PhD Particle Physics, 2013), assistant professor at Utrecht University, received the Stuart Jay Freedman Award in Experimental Nuclear Physics from the American Physical Society (APS) last month.

The prize is presented annually to an outstanding early career experimentalist in nuclear physics. The award consists of 4000 USD, a certificate, and an invitation to the Fall Meeting of the APS Division of Nuclear Physics. The jury praises Verweij for her “pioneering work in experimental investigations of jet quenching in quark-gluon plasma produced by ultra-relativistic heavy ion collisions.”

After obtaining her PhD at UU, Verweij worked at CERN and Vanderbilt University, among others. She returned to Utrecht last year.

June 2020: Sinan Çankaya

Video (Dutch) of the (online) book launch in Pakhuis De Zwijger

Sinan Çankaya (BSc Cultural Anthropology and Sociology of non-Western societies, 2005) is a writer and also works as an assistant professor at VU University Amsterdam.

His new book Mijn ontelbare identiteiten ('My uncountable identities') was published last month, a personal story about what it is like to grow up in the Netherlands as a child of Turkish migrants.

He previously published his dissertation on the inclusion and exclusion of ethnic minorities within the police organization, and a book about ethnic profiling by the police. In (Dutch) interviews with NRC and the Volkskrant, among others, Çankaya talked more about his new book.

May 2020: Jacqueline Prins

Jacqueline Prins
(photo: Jorissa Neutelings)

Jacqueline Prins (Master Strategic management in the non-profit sector, 2007, executive education/professional education) was appointed general secretary / director of the Social and Economic Council (SER) last month. The SER is the most important advisory council for government and parliament on socio-economic issues.

Prins previously worked as director of Emancipation at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Before that, she worked at other ministries, including those of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure and Environment.

Last year she spoke in the magazine of the Senior Civil Service about diversity within the national government (in Dutch).

April 2020: Vrouwkje Tuinman

Last month, poet Vrouwkje Tuinman (General Humanities, 1997) won the Grote Poëzieprijs (Big Poetry Award) for her collection of poetry Lijfrente.

Tuinman wrote the poem about love and death after her lover, F. Starik, passed away in 2018. According to the jury report, the poems offer comfort, where there is almost impossible.

Annuity is Tuinman's sixth collection of poetry. She has also published four novels. The Grote Poëzieprijs is awarded annually by a jury to the best collection of poetry of the past year. The prize comes with an amount of 25,000 euro, part of which will be used for a public poetry project with the posthumous work of F. Starik. Since a physical presentation was not possible because of the corona crisis, the prize was awarded in the radio program Opium. The broadcast can be heard on the Radio 4 website.

March 2020: Anne Wensing

Virologist Anne Wensing (Medicine, 1996; Doctor of Medicine, 2007) works at UMC Utrecht.

In the past month, she explained in various media how the outbreak of the coronavirus works. This was shown in the talk show Op1 and during a live stream of the NOS, where she answered the viewers' questions. In addition, she also made information videos for the UMC Utrecht. Last year, Wensing made the news because she is one of the principal investigators of IciStem, the research group that managed to get two HIV patients virus-free.

You can watch various media appearances of Anne Wensing on YouTube.

February 2020: Iva Bicanic

Iva Bicanic

Iva Bicanic (PhD Medicine, 2014) is a clinical pyschologist and researcher. She is head of the National Psychotrauma Center UMC Utrecht and the Center for Sexual Violence. Last month she won the Vrouw in de Media (Woman in the Media) Award. The Vrouw in de Media Award is an initiative that was set up with the aim of increasing the visibility of female experts in the media.

The jury unanimously opted for Bicanic and thus joined the public vote. According to the jury, through her many appearances for radio and TV, newspapers and other media, Bicanic has put the treatment of victims of sexual abuse in the Netherlands on the map in a very constructive way. In 2019, she was proclaimed the most influential person in public health care. In an interview with De Volkskrant (in Dutch), Bicanic talked extensively about the work she does.

January 2020: Pieter Kuijpers

Pieter Kuijpers (Theater, Film and Television Studies, 1992) is a director, producer and scriptwriter. Last month his series Ares, a psychological horror series about the student corporation in Amsterdam, appeared on Netflix. A first, because it is the first fully Dutch series on the streaming service. This series was filmed in special places, such as the Tropenmuseum, The Teylers Museum and the Rijksmuseum.

Earlier films by Kuijpers include Van God los (awarded with a Gouden Kalf), De griezelbus and Tbs. In 2017 he received an oeuvre prize for his contribution to Dutch film.

See the Alumni of the Month of 2019.