Prof. Sander Bais received the ‘Stapenning', a special University of Amsterdam (UvA) honorary award, on the occasion of his departure as professor of Theoretical Physics. Rector Magnificus Prof. Dymph van den Boom presented the medal following Professor Bais' farewell speech on Wednesday, 16 June. Bais received the award for his outstanding achievements at the University of Amsterdam as a researcher, teacher and executive director.
ScientificWhilst conducting doctoral research in theoretical physics at the University of California (Santa Cruz, USA), Bais became inspired to study the physics of elementary particles at the nearby Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Within this field of study he became a specialist in phenomena relating to topology, such as magnetic monopoles. His article ‘Flux Metamorphosis' (1980) has proved visionary; the results described by Bais form the basis of the revolutionary concept of the 'topological quantum computer'.
After his appointment as professor of Theoretical Physics at the UvA in 1985, Bais took on various executive duties within and outside the University. He served as department chairman for seven years and subsequently as director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics. In the latter position he founded the famous string theory group. He also helped reinforce the scientific position of the Institute. Bais also performed executive duties for the National Graduate School of Theoretical Physics, the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) and the Dutch Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Bais was further instrumental in coordinating the Dutch contribution to CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) in Geneva.
SocialIn recent years, Bais has increasingly concentrated on communicating scientific findings to a broad audience, and hence on the social significance of science. He has published three books with the Amsterdam University Press popularising science, given many lectures, made media appearances and has been involved in special initiatives such as the formation of the Bètacanon (a list of 50 subjects connected to the exact sciences and engineering). Bais is a member of a number of prominent organisations which straddle science and society, such as the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities and the K.L. Poll Foundation for Education, Art and Science.
With his two lecture series ‘Turning Points in Physics' and ‘Relativity', Bais has made a significant contribution to the success of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Amsterdam and ,more recently, of the Amsterdam University College.