Five new KNAW members from Radboud University and Radboud University Medical Center

Jeanine Houwing-Duistermaat, Floris Rutjes, Tamar Sharon, Caroline Slomp and Caroline Klaver have been appointed as new members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

Members of the KNAW, who are leading scientists from a wide variety of different disciplines, are chosen based on nominations from colleagues, both in and out of the academy. The KNAW currently has about 600 members. Membership is for life. The total of 17 new Academy members will be installed on 30 September.

Jeanine Houwing-Duistermaat, Professor of Statistics

Jeanine Houwing-Duistermaat is a statistician with expertise in a wide variety of disciplines ranging from epidemiology, biology, biophysics, biochemistry and bioinformatics to medicine. The role of artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly important in this field, with biomedical research, for example, producing ever more and ever larger datasets. Combining such datasets poses new statistical challenges, such as when they must be integrated or their sizes reduced. Houwing-Duistermaat also specialises in epidemiological studies in which certain observations are missing, or where there are biases in the selection of participants, for example when a study examines only patients and their families, and not a cross-section of the population. Among other things, her research has revealed correlations between specific genes and diseases, and between health, lifestyle and air pollution in large cities.

Floris Rutjes, Professor of Organic Chemistry

Chemist Floris Rutjes specialises in the synthesis of organic molecules. He has developed new, efficient and sustainable synthesis methods by using and combining new catalysts and enzymes. Thanks to these methods, for example, the production of complex drugs can be cleaner, more efficient and less expensive. Synthesis often proceeds in stages, with the products needing to be separated and purified between stages. Rutjes was also among the first to work on developing micro-reactors, i.e. tiny chemical reaction vessels that combine the various stages into a single system. Rutjes holds more than 25 patents and is a founding partner in four companies.

Tamar Sharon, Professor of Philosophy, Digitalisation and Society

Tamar Sharon is a philosopher and trailblazer in research on the ethical implications of digitalisation, which she examines within the framework of sociological and economic issues. Her research focus is the destabilising effect of digital technology on fundamental values, and how such disruption can be remedied. Her research project focusing on the ’Googlization of health has raised awareness worldwide of the growing role of tech companies in health, healthcare and medical research. Sharon is a member of numerous advisory councils. In that capacity, she advises the European Commission on issues in which ethical, social and fundamental rights intersect with new technologies and science.

Caroline Slomp, Professor of Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry at Radboud University Nijmegen and professor of Marine Biogeochemistry at Utrecht University

Caroline Slomp studies the biogeochemistry and microbiology in marine ecosystems and the cycles of elements that are important for life in aquatic ecosystems, including carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and trace metals. Her research combines field work at sea, laboratory work, and computer simulations. She has broken new ground in her research on biogeochemical processes in oxygen-deficient marine environments such as the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and Lake Grevelingen. For example, rotting organic matter produces the powerful greenhouse gas methane. Slomp is studying how methane is also removed by microbes. Methane that escapes to the atmosphere plays a major role in climate change, which in turn affects the oceans. Research such as Slomp’s is important in that it can help us protect or restore marine ecosystems and understand and manage climate change.

Caroline Klaver, Professor of Epidemiology and Genetics of Eye Diseases at Erasmus University Medical Centre and Radboud University Medical Centre

Caroline Klaver ’s epidemiological research straddles genetics and ophthalmology. Her own studies and her work in large-scale and multi-disciplinary collaborations have led her to identify genes and lifestyle factors that cause age-related macular degeneration, myopia, glaucoma, and retinal dystrophies - diseases that cause blindness. Klaver works on applying her research findings in actual interventions and recommendations, for example lifestyle tips to combat macular degeneration, or the 20-20-2 rule to prevent myopia in children: look up from the screen every 20 minutes and focus on a distant object for 20 seconds, and spend at least 2 hours every day outdoors. The rule went viral and is helping parents and teachers to protect children’s eyesight. Klaver makes frequent appearances on television and in the press and has created public websites that provide information on myopia and macular degeneration.

the KNAW website.