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MPE Highlight April 5, 2012

Ewine van Dishoeck and Peter Hagoort receive prestigious prize from Dutch Academy of Sciences

Ewine van Dishoeck
Ewine van Dishoeck
Copyright: University Leiden
This year, the Academy Professor prize of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) is awarded to Ewine van Dishoeck, professor in molecular astrophysics at Leiden University and external scientific member of the MPE, and Peter Hagoort, professor of cognitive neurosciences at the Radboud University Nijmegen. The prizes, both 1 Million Euro, are meant as a lifetime achievement award for scientists that have proven that they are at the very top of their discipline. There are two annual prizes: one in the social sciences and humanities, the other in the natural and technical sciences. The awards ceremony will take place on 21 June 2012.

Ewine van Dishoeck studies the chemistry of the Universe. The space between the stars is not empty but filled with very tenuous and very cold clouds, such as the dark regions seen on images of the Orion nebula. Van Dishoeck studies the molecules that are found there: known molecules such as hydrogen and carbon monoxide but also more exotic species that hardly exist on Earth. Special attention is paid to regions in which clouds collapse to form new stars and to the dusty disks around young stars in which planets are currently being formed. For her research she uses ESO's Very Large Telescope and, in the near future, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, at 5000 metres altitude. Her current projects are focused on water in space and the role that water plays in the formation of stars and planets like our own, using the Herschel Space Observatory.
detection of water
Detection of water in a star forming region of the Milky Way, located some 3300 light years away from Earth.
Copyright: University Leiden

Van Dishoeck is an internationally renowned researcher who shaped the young field of astrochemistry. She plays a leading role in the organisation of international projects and collaborations, and enthusiastically presents her complex research to the general public. Since 1995, Ewine van Dishoeck is professor of molecular astrophysics at Leiden University and since 2008 External Scientific Member of the MPE. She is also scientific director of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) and leads the WISH project: Water in Star-forming Regions with Herschel. She studied chemistry and mathematics and then did her PhD at the boundary of astronomy and chemistry in Leiden, after which she went to Harvard, Princeton and Caltech. Van Dishoeck is the most cited molecular astrophysicist in the world. She received a number of other prizes, including the 2000 Spinoza prize.

external link Home page of Ewine van Dishoeck

external link WISH outreach page

external link Announcement of the KNAW

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