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Assistant professors


Dr. A. (Alina) Astefanei

Analytical Chemistry / Nanoparticle characterization

My journey at HIMS started in 2013 as a visiting researcher. I returned in 2015 as a post-doc and have been appointed assistant professor in 2019. I am an analytical chemist with a background in the characterization and environmental fate of carbon nanoparticles. My research is focused on two fields which I am most passionate about, art conservation and the environment, especially how carbon-nanocages, nano/micro-plastics, and associated chemicals impact our ecosystem, health, and society. I work in multidisciplinary teams, including chemists, physicists, biochemists, computational chemists, humanities researchers, eco-toxicologists, environmental scientists, polymer chemists, artists and conservators. I am also passionate about teaching and education. I am a teacher and coordinator of the analytical sciences track of the UvA-VU joint MSc chemistry program.

I joined UvA in 2020 as an assistant professor, with a joint appointment between HIMS and the Informatics Institute (IvI). Until then I was leading an independent research group at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany. My research focuses on the development and application of multiscale molecular simulations methods for soft-condensed-matter materials, in particular high-throughput molecular dynamics and physically motivated machine learning. Third-party funding includes the Emmy Noether program of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Max Planck Network, and the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung. I am an editorial board member of the IOP publication Machine Learning: Science and Technology and a deputy member of both FAIR-DI e.V. and BiGmax.

Dr. rer. nat. A.W. (Andreas) Ehlers

Synthesis & Catalysis / Material characterization

I moved to HIMS as an assistant professor in 2017 to study the activity of catalysts in sustainable processes by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) both experimentally and theoretically. Personally, I am still intrigued by metal-ligand bond interactions of organometallic compounds and their theoretical description by ab initio and DFT methods. My research focuses on exploring the reaction pathways of highly reactive, transient species stabilized by transition metals with applications in homogenous catalysis. Furthermore, I am appointed as a visiting professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Johannesburg.

Dr. A.C. (Amanda) Garcia

Synthesis & Catalysis / Electrochemistry

I joined HIMS in 2020 as Assistant Professor after been awarded with a tenure-track grant from the NWO program on electrochemical conversion and materials (ECCM). I am member of the Heterogeneous Catalysis and Sustainable Chemistry and my research focus on fundamental and applied aspects of electrochemical energy conversion and production of chemicals and fuels using renewable electricity. My team is part of the Research Priority Area Sustainable Chemistry, strengthening the RPA's efforts in electrosynthesis and electrocatalysis. In collaboration with the Amsterdam Centre for Electrochemistry (Amcel), which includes researchers from the UvA, AMOLF, ARCNL, Avantium Liquid Light lab and Shell, my team will boost the growing of electrochemistry in the Amsterdam area.

Dr. A. (Andrea) Gargano

Analytical Chemistry

In January 2019 I started my tenure track at HIMS as an assistant professor in Analytical Chemistry. My research focuses on the development of advanced separation science and mass spectrometry to characterize protein systems (e.g. enzymes) and synthetic polymers (e.g. biodegradable polymers). I use these technologies to characterize the molecular structures and distributions that are responsible for characteristic properties of the macromolecules (e.g. activity, stability). I was awarded the Ernst-Bayer Award in 2014 and the Csaba Horváth Young-Scientist Award in 2015. In October 2018 the Analytical Scientist magazine listed me among the 'Fab Forty' of gifted young scientists 'making waves in analytical science.'

Dr. ir. A. (Annemieke) Petrignani

Molecular Photonics / Astrochemistry

I joined HIMS in 2016 with an NWO-VIDI grant and became a MacGillavry fellow in 2019. I have a research group in organic chemistry from space to the origins of (universal) life and mostly teach interdisciplinary courses. My interstellar-chemistry focus involves combined experimental and theoretical work on (cold) gas-phase spectroscopy and photochemistry of (hydro)carbon species. My origins research focuses on possible alternative building blocks of life and their prebiotic chemistry routes under varying planetary conditions. My research is highly interdisciplinary and I have collaborations with astronomy (API, Leiden Observatory, NASA ARC), geosciences (UU), biology (SILS), FELIX Laboratory (RU), and more. My research is mainly funded by NWO (VIDI, Dutch Astrochemistry Network, Planetary and Exoplanetary Science) and the national ORIGINS Center.

Dr. B.W.J. (Bob) Pirok

Analytical Chemistry

I am Assistant Professor and part of the Chemometrics and Advanced Separations Team (CAST) of the Analytical Chemistry group in HIMS. Currently, I focus on the development of multi-dimensional separation methods for complex mixtures, as well as investigating algorithms to improve method-development workflows and data analysis for analytical systems. These pillars recently culminated in the 1.2M EUR granted NWO ENW-PPS PARADISE project with Prof. Arian van Asten (HIMS) and Prof. Govert Somsen (VU). In April 2020, I was appointed visiting research professor at Gustavus Adolphus College, MN, United States. I was decorated with the Shimadzu Young-Scientist Award in 2015, the Csaba Horváth Young-Scientist Award in 2017 and the Journal of Chromatography Award in 2018.

Dr. S. (Sonja) Pullen

Synthesis & Catalysis / Homogeneous Catalysis

I joined HIMS in 2020 as a tenure track researcher in the Homogeneous Catalysis group. My research focuses on the development and characterization of supramolecular systems such as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and discrete coordination cages with an application in artificial photosynthesis and organic photo-redox catalysis. I was appointed within the framework of the Connecting Science programme of the Faculty of Science that aims to conduct research with impact on science and society. Prior to this I was a postdoctoral researcher with a Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellowship in the group of Prof. Guido Clever at TU Dortmund, Germany.

Dr. S. (Saer) Samanipour

Analytical Chemistry

I started at UvA in 2020 as an assistant professor and a member of the Chemometrics and Advanced Separations Team (CAST) within the Analytical Chemistry group. Additionally, I have been appointed as an Honorary senior fellow at the University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. My research focuses on the application of datascience/chemometrics in analytical chemistry, particularly with high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS). I am currently the PI of a large international collaborative inter-laboratory trial, looking at the application of HRMS in environmental chemistry, through the Norman-Network with 22 participants. Recently, my collaboration with the UQ on wastewater-based epidemiology made it to the cover of Environmental Sciences & Technology and was the topic of an article by the Economist London.

Dr. J. (Jocelyne) Vreede

Computational chemistry

In 2006 I joined HIMS as a postdoc working on conformational transitions in light receptors using molecular simulation. I became an assistant professor in 2011, focusing on applying advanced simulation methods to investigate biologically relevant processes in proteins and DNA, in close collaboration with various experimental groups. I received several grants from NWO. Currently, I am investigating how proteins detect external signals such as ions, as well as how they pass on and amplify information in biological signal transduction pathways. With a recent NWO-Klein-2 grant I am now looking into the molecular mechanisms of DNA organization with implications for transcription and replication.

Dr R.M. (René) Williams

Molecular Photonics

The interaction of light and matter is the basis of our research. We focus on light activated (hybrid) nanomaterials for energy and health. We develop and study new materials for thin film solar cells (doped methylammonium-free perovskites) as well as new photoactive systems for medical applications (photodynamic therapy and photo-antiseptic materials, activated by NIR light). Photoinduced electron transfer, energy transfer and triplet state formation in molecular-, supramolecular- and nanosystems are key processes. I have participated in the SUSANA and UNINANOCUPS EC networks, was supported by the Vietnamese Overseas Scholarship Program, and am currently involved in a H2020 ITN/EJD. After accomplishing an MSc and a PhD at the UvA, I returned to my Alma Mater in 1999.

Dr. N. (Ning) Yan

Synthesis & Catalysis / Heterogeneous catalysis

I am an Assistant Professor at HIMS. After joining UvA in 2014, my research has been centered on the rational design of electro-catalyst for energy applications including fuel cells, electrolyzers and metal-air batteries. My team is particularly interested in developing nature-inspired catalytic structures using earth-abundant elements. I received an NWO-GDST grant and was selected as “emerging investigator” by RSC’s leading journal Green Chemistry in 2017. In 2019, I was awarded the prestigious NWO-Vidi grant to develop innovative research in the field of bi-atom catalysis.