NWO Spinoza Prize awardees announced; the highest Dutch award in science

THE HAGUE, 13-Jun-2016 — /EuropaWire/ — Physical-organic chemist Wilhelm Huck, philosopher Lodi Nauta, internist/infectious disease specialist Mihai Netea and nanophysicist Bart van Wees will receive the NWO Spinoza Prize on 13 September. The announcement was made today by NWO chairman Jos Engelen. The NWO Spinoza Prize is the highest Dutch award in science and consists of an amount of 2.5 million euros to be used for scientific research.

The NWO Spinoza Prize is not only an honour but above all an incentive to conduct further research. NWO awards the Spinoza Prizes each year to a maximum of four researchers working in the Netherlands who rank as leading authorities in their field according to international standards.


Scientists are nominated for a Spinoza Prize. This year the Spinoza Committee received 37 nominations. An international committee, the members of which represent a broad range of scientific expertise, subsequently select a shortlist of no more than eight candidates from the nominations. Members of the committee discuss each candidate with several international experts. Based on these discussions, the committee selected four scientists this year who they recommended to NWO for the Spinoza Prize. The most important criterion in granting an NWO Spinoza Prize is international recognition of the candidates’ quality as scientists.

Wilhelm Huck works at Radboud University Nijmegen, Mihai Netea works at Radbodumc and both Lodi Nauta and Bart van Wees work at the University of Groningen. Counting these new laureates, the Netherlands now has 81 Spinoza laureates.

Award ceremony

The festive award ceremony for the NWO Spinoza Prizes will take place on Tuesday 13 September in the Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague. During the ceremony, the laureates will explain their research to the audience and how they intend to use the financial part of their prize.

The 2016 NWO Spinoza laureates

Wilhelm Huck

Credits: Ivar Pel

Credits: Ivar Pel

Prof. W.T.S. (Wilhelm) Huck (1970) is professor of physical-organic chemistry at Radboud University Nijmegen. His work focuses on research into the physical-organic, chemical and biological processes that take place in human cells. He applies his knowledge of this complex entity in his search for one of the holy grails in his field: to construct a synthetic cell.

Lodi Nauta

Credits: Ivar Pel

Credits: Ivar Pel

Prof. L.W. (Lodi) Nauta (1966) is professor of history of philosophy at the University of Groningen. Nauta has established unexpected but structural parallels in his work between philosophical thought about language in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the twentieth century. His innovative approach combines linguistic, historical and philosophical insights about the place of humanism in the history of Western philosophy.

Mihai Netea

Credits: Ivar Pel

Credits: Ivar Pel

Prof. M.G. (Mihai) Netea (1968) is full professor of experimental medicine at Radboudumc. He conducts research into how the immune system recognises microorganisms, including the dangerous fungus Candida albicans, which is causes blood poisoning. Netea has made significant discoveries in this area. He was one of the first people to work in this research area internationally and is a pioneer in his field.

Bart van Wees

Credits: Ivar Pel

Credits: Ivar Pel

Prof. B.J. (Bart) van Wees (1961) is professor of applied physics at the University of Groningen and the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials. He is a worldwide leading physicist in the field of electricity transport by quantum structures. Van Wees is a top researcher in the field of ‘spintronics’. He focuses mainly on its applications in the revolutionary material graphene.


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