The Executive Board has appointed two Scientific Directors for the MESA+ institute: Prof. Albert van den Berg and Prof. Guus Rijnders. These appointments, which are for a term of four years, will both take effect retroactively on 1 February 2018. The appointments represent the start of a more finely tuned task for this internationally renowned institute, one that focuses on driving cross-disciplinary research and on engaging in cooperative projects with external partners.
The MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology focuses on nanotechnology-driven solutions to societal challenges. In addition, the institute combines research from various faculties and external partners around Key Enabling Technologies such as nanotechnology and advanced materials for health, IT and energy.
Professors van den Berg and Rijnders will jointly head the new-style institute. Given the institute’s size and broad orientation, the Executive Board decided to appoint two directors, each with their own specific focus. This means that Albert van den Berg will focus mainly on biomedical nanotechnology and (micro)fluidics, while operating as the driving force behind the University of Twente’s Sensing research programme line.
Guus Rijnders will focus on the research areas of Nanomaterials and Photonics. He is also the driving force behind the University of Twente’s Materials research programme line.
Professor Albert van den Berg graduated in Applied Physics at the University of Twente in 1983. He went on to obtain a PhD at the university in 1988, the subject of which was chemically modified ion-sensitive field-effect transistors (ISFET). He worked at Neuchatel in Switzerland from 1988 to 1993, after which he took up the post of Research Director of Micro Total Analysis Systems at the MESA institute. In 1998, he was appointed Professor of Miniaturized Systems for Chemical (and Biochemical) Analysis at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, which is also part of MESA. His current research focuses on micro-analysis and nanosensors, nanofluidics and research into biological cells on chips, with applications in the fields of healthcare and environmental science.
In 2002, the STW Technology Foundation awarded Prof. Van den Berg the Simon Stevin Master Prize. In 2009, he was awarded the Spinoza Prize (the most prestigious academic award in the Netherlands) for his achievements in lab-on-a-chip research. He has acquired two European Research Council Advanced Grants (in 2008 and 2015) and is involved in two Gravitation programmes, in the role of PI.
Guus Rijnders has been interim Scientific Director of MESA+ since 1 September 2015, together with Prof. Cornelissen. Prof. Rijnders has an impressive track record as a scientist and innovator. He was awarded a PhD (with distinction) by the University of Twente in 2001. In 2006, he obtained a VIDI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to pursue his research into the creation of new materials with atomic precision. In April 2010, he was appointed Professor of Nano-Electronic Materials. His research focuses primarily on the creation and study of new functional materials, with applications in highly sensitive sensors and new electronics. His research has generated a range of patents, and has led to the creation of several companies. Guus Rijnders is one of the founders of Solmates and TSST, both of which are spin-off companies. He is adept at building bridges, whether between different fields of science, between science and entrepreneurship, or between science and society. For this work, he was awarded the prestigious Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter’s (FOM) Valorisatie Prijs (Commercial Knowledge Transfer Prize) in 2014.
In 2013, he took a seat on the Supervisory Board of the Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation, part of the High Tech Systems & Materials top sector. He also joined that top sector’s Executive Board. In 2014, he became chairman of the board of the NanolabNL foundation.
Thom Palstra, the Rector Magnificus, is delighted with these appointments: “Albert and Guus are a great team to lead MESA+ as a truly formidable institute. Guus Rijnders is the standard bearer of the University of Twente’s new-style institutes. He is one of the architects of the University of Twente's new management structure and is more keenly aware than anyone else of the next steps that MESA+ needs to take. He will act as a powerful standard bearer within his area of expertise, while introducing leaders of similar stature in other domains.
Albert van den Berg is an outstanding researcher with a strong background in commercial knowledge transfer. He is also an exceptionally high-profile standard bearer for the MESA+ institute. He can and will use his position to attract talented individuals to the University of Twente, and to inspire people to do pioneering work. Albert’s role gives him a wonderful opportunity to advance the careers of other talented scientists.”
Commenting on his appointment, Albert van den Berg explained that “What I really want to do is to inspire young researchers to carry out outstanding nano research, preferably of great societal relevance.” Guus Rijnders adds that "As Scientific Director, I am committed to creating an impact by means of ambitious and outstanding research that is supported by the very best infrastructure."
The Executive Board wishes both directors every success in the performance of their duties and for the further development of their institute.
Image: Albert van den Berg, Guus Rijnders and Janneke Hoedemaekers (Technical Commercial Director MESA+) together form the Management team of MESA+