TU/e Science Award: Leadership in excellence nominees

Erik Bakkers


For groundbreaking work on nanowire technology, crucial in photonics, quantum computers and solar energy conversion


Erik Bakkers has made seminal contributions to the development of silicon photonics and quantum computation by investigating and controlling the growth mechanisms of semiconducting nanowires. Nanowires with exciting properties have emerged that make them the key elements in photonics, quantum computers, and solar energy conversion applications. Most recently, he achieved a stunning breakthrough with the discovery of a light-emitting silicon alloy, which one day may allow data in chips to be transmitted using photons instead of electrons, widely recognized as a ‘Holy Grail’ in physics.

The relevance of his work can best be summarized in just one powerful statement: “Tailored materials underly all technologies humanity needs to face its challenges in energy, computing and sustainability – and it is precisely in this domain that all of Bakkers’ fundamental contributions are found.”

Luc Brunsveld


Combines synthetic chemistry, chemical biology and supramolecular chemistry to address relevant biomedical challenges


Prof. Brunsveld (47) is an internationally leading scientist at the interface of supramolecular chemistry and chemical biology. Among others his group has pioneered new concepts for small-molecule drug discovery focusing on stabilizing protein-protein interactions. In addition to a very strong publication record he established Ambagon therapeutics in 2020 (with Christian Ottmann and Michelle Arkin (UC-SF)), a highly successful biotech start-up. Throughout his career Brunsveld has received various awards and prestigious personal grants, including ERC and VICI grants, the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award, the Griess Lectureship of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the NVBMB award, the Liebig Lectureship of the German Chemical Society, and the Golden medal of the KNCV. In recognition of his (inter)national leadership, Brunsveld was elected as a KNAW member in 2022 and was recently awarded an ERC advanced grant. Brunsveld is also deeply involved in service to the academic community, including leadership roles within NWO (CHAINS 2029) and KNCV (chairman NVBMB), the Volkswagen Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the EU-CHEMS Chemistry for Life Science Committee. His dedication to educational excellence is evident from his prominent contribution to both bachelor and master education, mentorship of the iGEM student team and election as best BmE bachelor teacher 2023.

Emiel Hensen


Outstanding contributions to the molecular understanding of catalysts impacting many applications in sustainable production of chemicals and fuels from renewable feedstock and energy sources, inspirational teacher and promotor

Technology contributes significantly to the well-being of society. Catalysis plays a crucial role in the production of energy carriers and many products in our daily life. Currently, a major challenge is to develop chemical answers to the technological challenges of the energy transition. Hensen works on the design of catalysts defined at the nanoscale, their detailed characterization and development of reaction mechanism models that relate to catalyst surface reactivity. This provides a rational for the search of new catalytic materials to cope with the challenges of a carbon-neutral society. His unique contribution to study the complexity of catalysts is the use of tools and methods that focus on the detection and simulation of the state of the catalyst under reaction conditions. Such tools are essential because a fundamental challenge is the determination of the state of catalyst during the ongoing reaction, which can be dramatically different from the initial state. The resulting insights guide the design of novel catalytic materials with tailored reactive chemistry as for instance relevant to convert CO2 waste to chemicals and energy carriers. Unique catalysts have been developed for this purpose with a significantly reduced usage of critical metals.

Tanja Lange


Bridges gaps between algebraic geometry, number theory, theoretical cryptography, and real-world information security.  


Dr. Tanja Lange leads the Coding Theory and Cryptology group and the cluster Discrete Mathematics at the Department Mathematics & Computer Science. She is also the scientific director of the Eindhoven Institute for the Protection of Systems and Information (Ei/PSI).

Dr. Lange is on the editorial board of three journals and serves on three steering committees, including the workshop series on Post-Quantum Cryptography. She coordinated the EU-H2020 project PQCRYPTO -- Post-quantum cryptography for long-term security, a European multi-university consortium to make electronic communications future-proof against threats such as quantum factorization (see pqcrypto.eu.org). She is a regular speaker at leading crypto and security conferences and has written more than 70 articles and books including a paper in Nature on Post-Quantum Cryptography.

She is an expert on curve-based cryptography and post-quantum cryptography, including isogeny-based, lattice based and code-based cryptography.

A series of papers written by her and another researcher led to an “Explicit Formulas Database” (EFD) which has turned into the standard reference for arithmetic on elliptic curves. Se also collected a group of researchers to attack the Certicom challenge ECC2K-130 and, once finished, the computation will be the biggest cryptanalysis carried out publicly.