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Dr Moniek Tromp of the University of Amsterdam's Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences has been awarded the Athena Prize 2017 by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The prize honours her as a top female scientist in the field of chemistry.

In addition to praising her pioneering work in materials research, the jury for the Athena Prize applauds Moniek Tromp's efforts in gender issues. She currently develops educational programs in gender bias and science&technology for primary schools, together with the Dutch national expert organization on girls/women and science/technology (VHTO), BASF and Nemo. Photo: Amsterdam Science Park.

Awarded to a top chemical talent every year, the Athena Prize was created by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to highlight women who perform excellent research in chemistry and combine this with active outreach activities. The Athena Prize will be handed out to Moniek Tromp on Wednesday 6 December at the national chemistry conference CHAINS in Veldhoven. It consists of a trophy and EUR 25,000 to be spent on research-related activities.

Materials characterisation

Moniek Tromp leads the team for Sustainable Materials Characterisation at the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences and UvA's research priority area Sustainable Chemistry. She is a visiting professor at the University of Southampton and the Technical University of Munich. Her research focuses on in-situ and operando studies of materials, combining advanced characterisation methods. 

A large gap to bridge

Throughout her career Tromp has been active in outreach and gender and diversity issues. Although she says to not always feel comfortable with 'women-only efforts', she recognizes there is a large gap to bridge. "A prize like this shows everyone that there are women around who do well. Although the academic world requires persistence and hard work, I always advocate that a university career might perhaps be easier to combine with a family than other high profile jobs, such as in industry, since it is more flexible time-wise."

Tromp is keen to be a role model for female PhDs and students and hopes to inspire them: "Although  the male/female ratio is roughly 50/50 with students, PhD's and postdocs, we see very few women remain at university in the next career stage, becoming permanent academic staff. That has to change!"