January 29, 2019

Nadine Akkerman, Lenneke Alink, Teun Bousema, Birte Forstmann, Ewout Frankema, Toby Kiers, Jacco van Rheenen and Stephanie Wehner are the winners of the Ammodo Science Awards 2019. Each of the laureates receives a monetary prize of 300,000 euro. The funds can be used to explore new directions in pure scientific research.

The laureates are:


Nadine Akkerman, Associate Professor of Early Modern English Literature at Leiden University.

Akkerman (40) has described in unprecedented detail the letter correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, a distant ancestor of Queen Elizabeth. With her innovative research methods, such as the use of X-ray scanners to read unopened letters, she is a forerunner in discovering the role of women in the politics and espionage of the seventeenth century.


Lenneke Alink, Professor of Forensic Family Studies at Leiden University.

Alink (40) takes the understanding of child maltreatment to a higher level with high-quality experimental research. She has a broad interest in the subject looking at both the role of chaos in the household, but also at that of the stress system in cases of abuse and neglect. Her work maps out the causes and consequences of this horrific problem – an important step towards solving it.


Teun Bousema, Professor of Epidemiology of Tropical Infectious Diseases at Radboudumc and Guest Lecturer at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Bousema (41) unravels the life cycle of Plasmodium falciparum, a deadly parasite carried by mosquitoes that causes malaria. He is particularly interested in how a parasite from an infected human is then reintroduced to a new mosquito, and it was Bousema who discovered, among other things, that some people have an immune reaction that prevents this step from happening.


Birte Forstmann, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Amsterdam Brain and Cognition Center at the University of Amsterdam.

Forstmann (42) works at the intersection between our behaviour on the one hand and the anatomy of our brains on the other. How do they relate to each other? And what mechanisms in the brain make it possible for a person to respond to his or her environment? In her research she focuses mainly on the subcortex, a large structure in the middle of the brain that plays a major role in Parkinson’s disease.


Ewout Frankema, Professor of Agricultural and Environmental History, Wageningen UR

Frankema (44) studies the historical roots of global inequality between the poor and the rich. This inequality grew dramatically between 1750 and 1990, and since then it has hardly reduced at all. In his integrated historical approach, he combines research into the ecological and geographical conditions in which rural societies develop with the economic, political and social relations which are shaped by mankind.


Toby Kiers, University Research Chair and Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Vrij University Amsterdam and Senior Research Associate at the University of Oxford.

Kiers (42) is interested in the interaction between plants and micro-organisms in the soil. An active trade in nutrients takes place between roots and fungi which can be described using  economic theory that is actually meant for human markets. Her original approach provides new insights into the evolution of societies in the natural world.


Jacco van Rheenen, Professor of Intravital Microscopy at Utrecht University and Group Leader at Antoni van Leeuwenhoek.

Van Rheenen (40) developed a groundbreaking form of microscopy, allowing individual cells to be tracked for weeks in a living organism. This new form of research provides valuable information about the behaviour of, and the interaction between, cells. For example, he was the first person to film the process of metastatic cancer.


Stephanie Wehner, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Professor at QuTech at Delft University of Technology.

Wehner (41) is working on a fundamental challenge: how entanglement can be created over long distances in order to then make a quantum internet possible. Entangling is a central concept in quantum mechanics, enabling safe communication and super-fast coordination. She now wants to realise this in the planned quantum network around Delft.

More information about the laureates and their research can be found at:



About the Ammodo Science Award

The Ammodo Science Award was introduced to encourage highly talented researchers in a crucial and advanced phase of their scientific career. Through the Award, Ammodo aims to strengthen curiosity-driven science in the Netherlands across the board. Every two years eight Ammodo Science Awards are given to internationally acclaimed scientists in four scientific categories: Biomedical Sciences, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences. The laureates have to be connected to a university or institute in the Netherlands, and they should have obtained their PhD at the most fifteen years ago.

The biannual Ammodo Science Award is an initiative of the Ammodo Foundation. The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences is responsible for the nomination and selection procedures

About Ammodo
Ammodo supports art and science. Together with renowned partners, Ammodo initiates, develops and supports groundbreaking projects within the visual arts, performing arts and fundamental science. By offering excellent artists and scientists room to develop their work and by helping to make it known to the outside world, Ammodo stimulates the development of art and science.

For more information, see www.ammodo.org.

Juliette de Wijkerslooth, Director of Ammodo: ‘Ammodo recognises the value of blue-skies scientific research: a quest for new knowledge without the limitations of having to search for a specific solution or practical application. This is the third edition of the Ammodo Science Award, and we are proud to enable the laureates Nadine Akkerman, Lenneke Alink, Teun Bousema, Birte Forstmann, Ewout Frankema, Toby Kiers, Jacco van Rheenen and Stephanie Wehner to follow their curiosity.’

More information about the laureates and their research can be found at:


– Ammodo: Marie-louise Oster, 020 794 45 22 or 06 57812297, marielouise.oster@ammodo.org

– De Wolven: Milou Peeters, 020 620 33 54 or 06 48760756, milou@dewolven.com