Prizes for Anton Akhmerov and Maartje van den Heuvel at the Opening of the Academic Year
Two important prizes were awarded at the opening of the 2012-2013 Academic Year. The Gratama Science prize, a new award offered by the Leiden University Fund, was presented to theoretical physicist Dr Anton Akhmerov. The K.J. Cath prize for 2012 was presented to Maartje van de Heuvel, M.A., a specialist on Photography and Photographica collections at the University Library.
Anton Akhmerov was awarded the Gratama Science Prize for young talented researchers in recognition of his research on functional applications for graphene, a single-layer carbon material. This is a highly competitive field that is experiencing rapid development. According to the jury, made up of the Science Committee of the Leiden University Fund, Akhmerov is 'a creative and independent thinker, as well as being an excellent networker and colleague.'
Although still young, Akhmerov has already published some 30 papers. He has integrated twelve of these - more than double the standard number - into his PhD dissertation. Remarkably, he has managed to introduce new insights into almost all of these papers.
Akhmerov received his PhD with distinction in 2011, under the supervision of Professor Carlo Beenakker. In the same year, he was nominated as Discoverer of the Year by the Faculty of Science, and his dissertation entitled Dirac and Majorana edge states in graphene and topological superconductors was acclaimed as the best dissertation of the year. All the nominations were of the highest standard, but 'this particular candidate was head and shoulders above the rest,' in the opinion of the jury.
In his brief speech of thanks, Akhemerov particularly thanked his many friends at Leiden University: 'With this prize I will be able to keep in close touch with them while I am in Harvard. That's a benefit that should definitely not be underestimated!'
Maartje van den Heuvel, M.A., collection specialist for Photography and Photographics at the Special Collections department of the University Library, was awarded the 2012 K.J. Cath Prize. She won the award for her excellent efforts, beside her regular part-time work, in publicising the University's photo collection for a broad public.
Van den Heuvel is highly proactive in seeking collaboration with Dutch museums, photographic institutions and prominent photographers of the present day. She has also made major contributions to enhancing the positive image of the University. This is exactly the criterion for which the Cath Prize was established.
In the spring of 2010, Van den Heuvel organised the Photography! A special collection of Leiden University exhibition in the Photo Museum in The Hague, and produced a beautifully illustrated volume of photographs to commemorate the exhibition.
In 2011, together with De Lakenhal Museum in Leiden, she took the initiative of inviting one of the Netherlands' most celebrated photographers, Erwin Olaf, to create a visual impression of the Relief of Leiden that took place in 1574. This resulted in two exhibitions that attracted much national publicity.
In 2012, Van den Heuvel organised a further major exhibition: Sweet and Salt in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. She again took the opportunity to present photographs from the Leiden photo collection to a broad public and also wrote the introduction to the exhibition catalogue.
Van den Heuvel said in her acceptance speech that she is fortunate enough to work in a 'true treasure house' containing the most beautiful photographic collection in the Netherlands: 'I am delighted and proud to receive this award.'
(3 September 2012)