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Women in Science

11 February is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science – a perfect moment to highlight a selection of female scientists at the UvA. The academics on this page each work at one of the eight research institutes at the UvA's Faculty of Science.

Are you a journalist and would you like to get in touch with a researcher who does not appear on this page? Please contact the Press Office on 020 525 2695 or

Iris Groen (photo: Liesbeth Dingemans)
Photo: Liesbeth Dingemans
Image processing in the brain

Dr Iris Groen studies visual perception in the human brain. She looks at how the brain processes images as we encounter them on a daily basis. She does this by means of brain measurements such as EEG, fMRI and electrocorticography, in combination with computer modelling. Groen's research aim to achieve a better understanding of how our brains translate information from our environment into neural activity and thereby gain further insight into how the brain stores information in general. Groen is an assistant professor at the Institute for Informatics (IvI). |  

Cells and genes

Dr Renée van Amerongen conducts fundamental cancer research and stem cell research, at the intersection of developmental biology, cell biology and molecular genetics. She focuses, among other things, on the behaviour and control of cells in breast tissue: how is the behaviour of these cells regulated during the development of the mammary gland and how does a disruption in these processes contribute to the development of breast cancer? Van Amerongen leads her own research lab, the Developmental, Cancer and Stem Cell Biology, within the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS). | | 020 525 5682

Flavia de Almeida Dias (photo: Liesbeth Dingemans)
Photo: Liesbeth Dingemans
Elementary particles

Dr Flavia de Almeida Dias specialised in (experimental) particle physics, the field of physics that studies the subatomic particles that make up all matter and radiation. Within the ATLAS experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, she focuses on the detection of elementary particles, such as the Higgs boson. De Almeida Dias is an assistant professor at the Institute of Physics (IoP) and a researcher at Nikhef, the Dutch National Institute for Subatomic Physics. | | 020 592 5088

Sonja Smets (photo: Dirk Gillissen)
Photo: Dirk Gillissen
Information Dynamics

Prof. Sonja Smets is a logician, with information dynamics as a specific field of work. Her research focuses on the question of how people and machines revise their knowledge and beliefs on the basis of new information – both classical information and quantum information. To this end, she connects logic, probability theory, theories about learning processes, social epistemology and game theory. Smets is professor of Logic and Epistemology at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC). | | 020 525 6508

Geometric objects

Dr Diletta Martinelli conducts research in a branch of algebraic geometry called higher-dimensional birational geometry. She focuses on classifying geometric objects defined by polynomial equations. These geometric shapes can be incredibly complex, but play a fundamental role in many areas of mathematics and science. Martinelli works as a researcher and assistant professor at the Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics (KdVI). |

Annemieke Petrignani (photo: Liesbeth Dingemans)
Photo: Liesbeth Dingemans
Molecules in space

Dr Annemieke Petrignani is an expert in astrochemistry. Her research focuses on organic chemistry from space to the origins of life. For example, she studies the UV and IR spectroscopy of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), using both laboratory and theoretical methods. Petrignani works at the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS), where she leads the Laboratory Astro Chemistry group.| | 020 525 7158

Neutron stars and black holes

Dr Nathalie Degenaar is an expert in the field of neutron stars, black holes, X-ray flashes, accretion and jets. In her research, she examines, among other things, the properties of accretion streams in X-ray binaries and the supermassive black hole in our Milky Way, Sagittarius A*. In doing so, she uses the observations of various telescopes on Earth and in space. Degenaar is an assistant professor and researcher at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API), where she leads her own research group. | | 020 525 3994

Whales and dolphins

Dr Fleur Visser researches the behaviour and ecology of cetaceans. She has been observing whales and dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean near the Azores for years to learn more about their social and foraging behaviours and the influence humans on them. Other areas of research include, for example, looking at the effects of underwater noise on whale behaviour in the Arctic Ocean. Visser works as a researcher at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). She also founded and leads Kelp Marine Research. |