TU/e praises and rewards excellent researchers

Professor Bert Meijer acted as master of ceremonies yesterday afternoon at the presentation of eight research prizes, which were awarded to individual researchers and research groups in the Blauwe Zaal. They were awarded in the context of TU/e's second Research Day. According to Meijer, winning the prize is ultimately not the most important thing, "that is being nominated". Earlier that day, polymer chemist Craig J. Hawker was given an honorary doctorate.

photo Bart van Overbeeke

The ‘collaboration dance’ that Max Birk, who was chosen as the best young researcher yesterday during the TU/e Research Day, performed together with the audience, was without a doubt the most special action during the award ceremony. But everyone in the room stood up and joined in. According to Birk, they symbolized the most important thing that is necessary in a good research project: not so much the research itself, but mainly the way in which it is created. "By looking around and looking for cooperation wherever possible." Birk is an assistant professor at IE&IS and he creates video games for cognitive assessment with the aim of predicting stress.

Nienke Bakx received the award for best EngD'er. She trained and evaluated AI models to automatically delineate target volumes and organs and predict dose distribution for breast cancer patients. Something that is now used in daily practice to support medical professionals.


Youri van Hees was chosen by the jury as the best PhD candidate. He did his PhD at the Department of Applied Physics. Van Hees' research focuses on faster and better data storage. According to him, the limits that currently exist for this can be overcome by using ultra-short light pulses to write data into magnetic devices.

For professor Luc Brunsveld of Biomedical Engineering there was the prize for the best leadership in excellence. Brunsveld is an internationally leading scientist at the interface of supramolecular chemistry and chemical biology. Among other things, his group has pioneered new concepts for the discovery of small molecule drugs that focus on stabilizing protein-protein interactions. His international fame in this field also meant that he was not physically present yesterday afternoon due to an obligation in the US to give some lectures there. Via a pre-recorded video, he thanked the jury for his selection.

Best team

For the best team award, the competition was considerable; seven teams were nominated, with IronPower Consortium emerging as the winner. This consortium focuses on the use of iron powder as an energy carrier. The research at TU/e focuses on the combustion properties of iron powder and the regeneration of burnt iron powder with hydrogen. Spin-offs have already emerged from it, such as RIFT and Iron+. Professor Philip de Goey, former dean of Mechanical Engineering and creator of this process, received the prize.

Yoeri van de Burgt, also from Mechanical Engineering, received an award for his groundbreaking research. Van de Burgt is one of the pioneers and driving forces behind 'organic neuromorphic engineering', which focuses on the development of advanced computer and memory systems inspired by the functioning of the human brain.

Earlier that day, Tim Wissink had already been designated as the winner of the first edition of the new pitch competition Talking Science. With his pitch about converting CO₂ into fuel and chemicals, which he was allowed to present again in the afternoon session, he convinced the jury and won a cash prize of 750 euros. He is a PhD candidate in the group 'Inorganic materials and catalysis' at the Department of Chemical Engineering & Chemistry.

Audience award

Finally, Karthik Raghavan Ramaswamy, PhD student at Electrical Engineering, took the stage to receive the audience award. Of the 2200 votes cast, he had managed to win half of them. The PhD student from India just missed out on the prize for the best dissertation. His research at the Department of Electrical Engineering focused on data-driven models for complex, large-scale systems. When accepting his award, he did hint that promotion via his social media channels may have played a role in his ultimately overwhelming election.

For more information about the Research Day and videos that the prize winners had recorded themselves in advance, see here.

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