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The Dick Stufkens Prize 2020 for the best PhD thesis of the Holland Research School of Molecular Chemistry has been awarded to Dr Mark Koenis. Koenis graduated this year with the distinction cum laude on his thesis 'Advanced Spectra Analysis to Determine Complex Structure and Chirality'.

He describes the application of vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) as a powerful method for the analysis of molecular properties. With his research he has significantly improved the applicability of VCD.

Mark Koenis. Photo: UvA

The jury of the Dick Stufkens prize was impressed by the quality and the breadth of Koenis' research. That he has greatly advanced the field of VCD applications to structure determination of chiral molecules was another reason for awarding him the prize. In addition, the jury report mentions the way Koenis presents his work in a convincing and engaging manner, which had already earned him well-deserved praise from referees. Because of the excellent quality of other candidates (all received the distinction cum laude) it was a difficult decision, but in the end the jurors unanimously awarded Mark Koenis the Dick Stufkens prize.

About Dick Stufkens Prize

The Dick Stufkens Prize is awarded annually to the best thesis defended in the period July 1 to July 1 of the next year by a PhD student belonging to the Holland Research School of Molecular Chemistry (HRSMC). The prize – first awarded in 2008 - consists of a certificate and an amount of 2000 euro.


The Holland Research School of Molecular Chemistry was founded in 1994 and has been re-accredited three times by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The Research School combines research groups working on synthesis, spectroscopic characterization and theoretical and computational description of molecular systems from the University of Amsterdam, VU Amsterdam, Leiden University and Radboud University Nijmegen.

Apart from creating the appropriate conditions for further collaboration between the participating groups, the school also provides an internationally highly acclaimed teaching program for talented PhD and MSc students in molecular chemistry and physics.

The research of Mark Koenis was funded by means of a Technology Area grant of the Dutch Research Foundation NWO to his promotors Wybren Jan Buma (UvA) and Lucas Visscher (VU) and co-promotor Paul Nicu (VU, at the time). It was supported by the companies BioTools (VCD spectrometers) and Software for Chemistry & Materials (SCM, quantum chemistry software with VCD functionality).