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Executive summary

Annual report 2019

The HIMS online annual report showcases our scientific highlights and key publications of the year 2019. Here we provide an anthology to give you an overall impression of the van ‘t Hoff Institute’s performance in a few minutes of reading.

In 2019 the ‘Connecting science’ proposal of the Faculty of Science was granted by the National Sectorplan Bèta & Techniek. The Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences received 7 new staff positions that are aimed to connect our strong disciplinary research themes. On top of this substantial budget, and the numerous new projects that were acquired (including an NWO VIDI grant for Dr Ning Yan and an ERC Proof of Concept grant for Prof. Joost Reek) the budget for the Research Priority Area Sustainable Chemistry was renewed by the UvA board.

Peter Bolhuis
HIMS director Prof. Peter Bolhuis: “With the help of the Sectorplan, HIMS has attracted talented staff to kickstart new, exciting and cross disciplinary research lines.” Photo by Jan Willem Steenmeijer.

Four talented young scientists started on a tenure track position at the Van ‘t Hoff Institute. In January, Veni-laureate Dr Andrea Gargano started, in April Dr Bob Pirok, in June Vidi-laureate dr. Annemieke Petrignani began on a MacGillavry Fellowship and in September Dr Alina Astefanei came over from the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed. Prof. Herma Cuppen of Radboud University was appointed as a new part-time professor of Computational Chemistry at HIMS. To enforce the collaboration on electrochemistry Dr Klaas Jan Schouten of Avantium was appointed as part-time research assistant professor in Electrocatalysis and Applied Electrochemistry. In July Prof. Peter Bolhuis succeeded Prof. Peter Schoenmakers as the director of the Van ‘t Hoff Institute.

Sadly we also lost a few people that were connected to HIMS for many years. In particular, we commemorate emeritus professors Kees Vrieze and Gerrit Jan Koomen who passed away this year.

Together with the UvA Institutes for Physics and Informatics, the Computational Soft Matter initiative commenced with two additional staff positions. Together with the UvA institutes for Informatics, Life Sciences and Ecology the AI 4 Science lab was established with 5 PhD students. Early 2019, the UvA sold its shares based upon a patent on organic synthesis filed in 1998. This gave the Van ‘t Hoff Institute the opportunity to refurbish and renew equipment used by the Synthetic Organic Chemistry group.

In 2019, spin-off company SusPhos was launched, with the aim to contribute to a circular economy in phosphorus and to establish a sustainable use of this resource. Van ‘t Hoff Institute’s former PhD student Dr Marissa de Boer heads this new company, which in 2019 already received loans for further investments and awards (eg. Amsterdam Science & Innovation Award, NWO Gouden Kiem) that emphasize its great potential. Together with the other founding fathers Dr Chris Slootweg and Bas de Jong and other group members, SusPhos presented a booth at the science program of the Lowlands festival.