The award ceremony of the Vliegenthart Thesis Prize 2016


To mark the departure of Prof Hans Vliegenthart in 2004 as chairperson of the University Fund, the Vliegenthart Thesis Prize was established. Its aim was to annually showcase an exceptional talent to the outside world in general and the alumni community in particular. The prize involves the sum of €2,000 and is awarded in turn to the disciplines of Humanities, Life Science, Science and Social and Behavioural Sciences.


During the University Day hosted by the Utrecht University Fund on 1 April 2017, Roel van den Broek, alumnus in Computing Science, was presented with the 2016 Vliegenthart Thesis Award. His thesis, entitled ‘Train Shunting and Service Scheduling: an integrated local search approach’, made a big impression on the jury of five. 'His thesis is a perfect example of fundamental research with a crucial impact.' Van den Broek's research wins him the sum of €2,000.
The winning thesis offers a solution to the complex scheduling of shunting, cleaning and minor maintenance on trains at NS service locations. When Van den Broek began his research at NedTrain, scheduling was done manually; a difficult and time-consuming process. Van den Broek's research involved developing an advanced algorithm based on local search that automates this process. NedTrain started to use the software developed by Van den Broek immediately, and created a PhD candidate position for him.
The jury praised the quality and applicability of Van den Broek's research. From the jury report: 'The clear description of the problem, the fact that Van den Broek presented a complete solution, and the flawless textual quality of the thesis made a particular impression on the jury. All of the jury members were impressed by the transparent, accurate and concise presentation of the research. This clearly demonstrates the exceptional qualities of this candidate.'

Alumni of the master Earth Structure and Dynamics McGregor Drummond and Annemarieke Béguin were both granted an honorable mention. Drummond for his thesis ‘The effect of giant impactors on the magnetic field energy of an early Martian dynamo’; Béguin for her thesis ‘Micromagnetic Tomography in Practice’. 

Previous winners of the Vliegenthart Thesis Prize

2015 Eva Heeger - Controlling your online profile: reality or an illusion? A research into informed consent as a mechanism to regulate commercial profiling
2014 Linda Henricks - What is the role of RasGRP1 and SOS1 in colorectal cancer?
2013 Tabitha van Zinnen - Pussy Riot's Punk Prayer: Blasfemie, parrèsia en de strijd om vrijheid
2012 Max Potters - Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics of the 2D Euler and Shallow Water Models
2011 Koen Docter - Cruel murderers, dangerous fanatics or exotic strangers
2010 Kay Wiebrands - A role of epithelial-mesenchymal transitions in carcinogenic progression
2009 Isis Bûtot - The Literary as Translation: The Linguistic Homelessness of the Language of the Novel
2008 Filip Schuurman - Dynamics of Sharp Meander Bends on an Intertidal Mudflat
2007 Luuk Slooter - Cité Dreams: An Analysis of the French Suburban Riots of 2005
2006 Hinze Hogendoorn - The state of the art in visual object recognition
2005 Frédérique Brinkerink - Canova à Paris, Chinard à Rome





Prof Hans Vliegenthart was Chairman of the Utrecht University Fund from 1999 until 2004. His chairmanship was of great significance for the University and the University Fund alike. Starting in the 1990s, Utrecht University and the Utrecht University Fund made significant efforts to achieve good contacts with graduates. The guiding principle was the need for a joint alumni policy. Since 1999, the University-wide alumni policy and the duties of the University Fund have been integrated in a single organisation.


Hans Vliegenthart is an eminent scientist, who has published hundreds of articles, especially in the field of organic chemistry.

He has achieved multiple awards for his scientific achievements, including:

  • Membership of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (1990);
  • Honorary doctorates at the University of Debrecen, Hungary (1992), University for Science and Technology in Lille, France (1993) and University of Stockholm, Sweden (1997);
  • Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion (1998);
  • Utrecht University Silver Medal (2003).


For contact details and a full overview of criteria, see the Award Regulations.