HIMS gives former director Rob Zsom a rousing send-off

16 March 2011

On March 11 the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences organised a farewell symposium for Rob Zsom, marking his departure as director of the institute.

On Friday, March 11, the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences organised a farewell symposium for Rob Zsom, marking his departure as director of the institute. The symposium was attended by current and former employees, friends and guests from the Dutch chemical research community.

HIMS Group Leaders gave an overview of the Institute's promising research portfolio in the areas of Organic Synthesis, Computational Chemistry, Chemical Analysis, Molecular Photonics and Catalysis. In more personal intermezzi current and former HIMS employees reflected on Rob Zsom's performance as director of HIMS.

Tough times

One of the recurrent subjects was Robs talkativeness, mildly criticized as well as admired. As one speaker declared: "To be able to put all these gifted eloquent professors in their place, you have to be talkative like Rob." Another applauded Robs management efforts by citing the great scientist Ernest Rutherford. Referring to the status of his research this acclaimed Nobel Prize winner once allegedly remarked: "We haven't got the money, so we've got to think". This quote reflects the tough times Rob has had in leading HIMS in times of budget cuts and decreasing student numbers.

As Robs successor professor Aart Kleijn put it: "Rob has skilfully beaten HIMS up against the winds. Thanks to his efforts we now have a strong and rejuvenated institute, one of the largest within our Faculty of Science as well as within the Dutch chemical research community."

Strong position

Current HIMS director prof.dr. Aart Kleijn. Photography: Jeroen Oerlemans

Rob himself declared to be proud that the symposium took place in the 'Trippenhuis' headquarters of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences (KNAW). A venue that suits the standing of HIMS, as the figures show. With an outstanding score of 4,4 out of 5 the institute performed very well in the latest scientific evaluation. And the citation score of 1,81 is well above average. HIMS scientific results appear almost on a regular basis in high impact journals.

The strong position is also reflected in the relatively large number of grants awarded to HIMS researchers. This refers to national research grants such as the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme (veni, vidi, vici) of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as well as to grants from the European Research Council. Combine that with successful valorisation initiatives such as the Yellow Diesel and InCat companies, and it is clear that in 2011 HIMS has a firm basis for a bright future.

Published by  HIMS