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Winners of Leiden University Thesis Prize 2019

The Leiden University Thesis Prize was awarded on Alumni Day on 16 February. On this sunny Saturday, the seven nominees, one from each faculty, came with their family and friends to the Kamerlingh Onnes Building for the award ceremony of this annual prize for the best thesis.

The 2019 Thesis Prize was for the thesis of master’s students who graduated in academic year 2017-2018. Each faculty could nominate one thesis. The jury, consisting of members of the LUF’s Committee for Academic Expenditure and two alumni from 1965, Leonard Blussé van Oud Alblas and Jos van Roosmalen, read with much pleasure and admiration the fruits of the months of labour of seven Leiden students. 

No easy decision

As in previous years, the jury was impressed with the quality of the theses. All were a good read and, despite the often specialist material, comprehensible and appealing. The topics were very diverse, ranging from puberty in the Netherlands in the Middle Ages to cybersecurity and from eating habits to the position in society of people with a disability. 

Koen van den Dool with Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker and Leonard Blussé

Koen van den Dool (Governance and Global Affairs) took home first prize. He approached a topic that requires global attention – cybersecurity – from a very different perspective. Instead of a qualitative account, he produced a quantitative study. He also paves the way for further research in this field, focusing on the role of states.  

Second prize went to Erwin Dijksta (Law). The jury was impressed with Erwin’s personal search, which resulted in a thesis about the position in society of people with a disability and how this is reflected in legislation. It is a study of the position in society of people with a disability from a theoretical framework and a review of Dutch law. 

‘Special compliments from the jury for the way in which Cecile combines the arts with the sciences.’ 

Cecile de Jong (Humanities) was awarded third prize for her thesis on the grammar of Greek mathematics. As Cecile says herself, she is an arts and a sciences person. She chose to study Classics and ended up in a group that was reading Greek mathematical texts. She has an eye for the language in the mathematical formula. The thesis is written in perfect Dutch and is proof of her flawless mastery of the subject. 

Honourable mention

The jury emphasised that the other nominees had written stunning theses. An honourable mention went to Alette Blom (Archaeology), Berivan Yildiz (Medicine), Danna Oomen (Social Sciences) and Gayathri Jaikumar (Science). They were each awarded a € 250 book token. Alette Blom and Gayathri Jaikumar were, unfortunately, unable to attend. Dr Rachel Schats, one of the speakers at the Alumni Day and Alette’s supervisor, was proud to receive the certificate and flowers on Alette’s behalf.  

The photos of the Alumni Day, including of the Thesis Prize ceremony, can be found in our online album.

The Thesis Prize is endowed by the Minerva Alumni Fund for the Years 1957/1961/1965. The first prize consists of the sum of €3,000, the second prize €2,000 and the third prize €1,000. The University and the Leiden University Fund (LUF) are very grateful to the Minerva alumni for their donations to the fund.

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