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UvA professors Patti Valkenburg and Erik Verlinde, NWO Spinoza Laureates 2011, revealed how they will spend their prize money worth 2.5 million euros during the presentation ceremony on Friday, 9 September.

UvA professors Patti Valkenburg and Erik Verlinde, NWO Spinoza Laureates 2011, revealed how they will spend their prize money worth 2.5 million euros during the presentation ceremony on Friday, 9 September. Valkenburg will be conducting an ambitious study of 900 families over a number of years. Verlinde hopes to make significant progress in his research, and also wants to make his ideas accessible to a wider audience. The Spinoza Prize is the highest Dutch award in science.

Patti Valkenburg

Prof. Patti Valkenburg, Professor of Youth and Media at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and director of the Center of Research on Children, Adolescents and the Media (CcaM), has spent the last 20 years examining every conceivable topic in her field of specialisation: she has focused among other things, on the influence of advertising on children’s coercive behaviour in retail environments, the impact of internet pornography on the sexual morality of teenagers, and the influence of social media on the friendships of children and adolescents. In the past year, she has received a European ERC Grant worth 2.5 million euros, the Hendrik Müller prize from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the NWO Spinoza prize. With this series of awards to her name, she will now focus on what she calles her ‘life's work’ : an ambitious study of nine hundred families over the course of a number of years, which will call on all her experience accumulated in the past 20 years. "In recent years, I have examined many different aspects of youth and media. This has formed the foundation upon which I have developed a model to examine the individual susceptibility of children to various aspects of media use,’ says Valkenburg.

The Dr.. Hendrik Muller prize will be awarded to Valkenburg on Monday, 12 September. To mark this event, the KNAW will be organising a mini-symposium entitled The School of Patti Valkenburg.

Erik Verlinde

The Spinoza prize has come at just the right time for Erik Verlinde, professor of Theoretical Physics at the UvA. His work has recently culminated in a stunning new insight into the origin of gravity. In the next few years, he hopes to make significant advances in cooperation with experienced fellow researchers. Verlinde also wants to spend some of the money on explaining his ideas to a wider audience. ‘When I was in secondary school, I did not find Physics very interesting at all, until I saw a film about the work of Stephen Hawking and Gerard 't Hooft. After this, I wanted to become a physicist. I want to make it clear to secondary school students that the most important discoveries in Physics were not made decades or even centuries ago, but that there are still many important, exciting questions, as well as fascinating developments taking place - and even new scientific revolutions - which are similar to quantum mechanics and the relativity theory.’

Heino Falcke, professor of radio astronomy and astroparticle physics at Radboud University Nijmegen, also received the Spinoza Prize 2011.