Four honorary doctorates will be awarded by the University of Twente, on the occasion of its 60th anniversary. They will go to IPCC co-chair Debra Roberts, cybersecurity expert Jaya Baloo, physicist and science policy maker Wim van Saarloos and Prince Constantijn. They all stand for the sustainable, fair and digital society the University of Twente is aiming at. The doctorates will be awarded during the ‘Dies Natalis’, UT’s anniversary celebrations on 26 November.
Every five years, the University of Twente awards honorary doctorates to exceptional people of great importance to science and society. They typically match the ambition of the University of Twente, in creating a sustainable, safe and fair digital society, and the entrepreneurial nature of the university. Honorary doctors can carry the title doctor honoris causa, Dr.h.c. The university considers them to be valuable ambassadors.
- Debra Roberts
Debra Roberts (1961) is a local government practitioner from South Africa and has been identified as one of the 100 most influential people worldwide in climate policy. Roberts is also one of the Co-Chairs of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which focuses on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. As science increasingly points to a world of unprecedented and rapid climate change, there is an urgent need to understand how human and natural communities are able to respond - or not respond - to these challenges.
Roberts was previously a negotiator for South Africa under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and has advised a number of international organisations on climate change adaptation related issues, particularly as relates to cities and urban areas Roberts has published widely on urban issues such as biodiversity planning, environmental management, sustainable development, resilience and climate change adaptation. She has received several awards for her work including the AfriCan Climate Research Award.
In her local government capacity Roberts is responsible for leading the Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit of eThekwini Municipality in Durban, South Africa and is Durban’s first Chief Resilience Officer. Her work has highlighted the importance of informality as a key resilience challenge in African cities.
Debra Roberts is Honorary Professor of the University of Kwazulu-Natal in the School of Life Sciences and already her PhD thesis, awarded in 1991, focused on the design of an open space network to conserve the globally significant biodiversity located in Durban.
Honorary promotors: Maarten van Aalst, Professor of Climate and Disaster Resilience (‘Princess Margriet Chair’, Faculty ITC), Theo van der Meer, Professor of Thermal Engineering (Faculty ET) and Suzanne Hulscher, Professor of Water Engineering and Management (Faculty ET).
- Jaya Baloo
Jaya Baloo (1973) is one of world’s leading Chief Information Security Officers. In The Netherlands, she also was one of the ‘Inspiring fifty’, of fifty women acting as a role model in tech. She is now CISO at Avast, one of the main companies in data protection and antivirus software. Earlier on, she worked at KPN: she was appointed in the year a 17-year old pupil hacked the company. At KPN, Jaya Baloo set up a world class security team. She was Practice Lead Lawful Interception at Verizon and Technical Security Specialist at France Telecom.
As quantum computing is expected to cause major changes in security and privacy, Jaya Baloo is a member of EU Quantum and, earlier on, of the EU High Level Steering Committee for the FET Quantum Flagship 2016-2017. Jayaa Baloo studied International Relations at Tufts University in Massachusetts, followed by several technical courses and a management training at IMD in Lausanne.
Honorary promotors: Aiko Pras, Professor of Network Operations and Management -with a focus on Internet Security, Willem Jonker, Professor of Database Technology (Faculty EEMCS) and Yola Georgiadou, Professor of Geoinformation for Governance (Faculty ITC).
- Wim van Saarloos
Professor Wim van Saarloos (1955) is not only a leading theoretical physicist, during his career he meant a lot for science in The Netherlands, in the broadest sense. Until June 2020, he was Director of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Before that, he led the transformation of Dutch Research Council NWO. He was the director of the Foundation for fundamental research of matter (FOM) and the founder/director of the Lorentz Center in Leiden. Van Saarloos is known as an innovator of science, with a keen eye on all aspects. Together with Professor Els Goulmy, he wrote a plea for more diversity: entitled ’20 in 2020’, it targeted at 20 percent female Professors by 2020. He was one of the architects of the sector plans in The Netherlands, more specific in physics. And he spoke out against trends in science like ‘projectification’, short term thinking that often gets in the way of talent policy.
Van Saarloos studied physics at Delft University of Technology and he did his PhD with honours at the University of Leiden. As a researcher, he worked at the renowned AT&T Bell Labs in Murray Hill. In 1991, he was appointed Professor at the University of Leiden. His scientific work is about statistical physics and soft materials. These materials can behave like solids, but they can also deform non-elastically or even flow. The lecture he held on the occasion of his Physica 2008 Award was about jamming, when particles are so close together that elastic disorder is the result. Among the many awards Van Saarloos received for his work, there is the Fellowship of the American Physical Society (APS), the Descartes-Huygens Prize and a royal decoration.
Honorary promotors: Detlef Lohse, Professor of Physics of Fluids (Faculty TNW), Thom Palstra, Professor of Solid State Chemistry (Faculty TNW) and Ariana Need, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy (Faculty BMS).
- Prince Constantijn
Prince Constantijn (1969) is Special Envoy at TechLeap.nl, formerly known as Startup Delta, in which he is an active ambassador of startup companies. He succeeded Mrs Neelie Kroes in this function – she received a UT honorary doctorate in 2016. Constantijn is an independent adviser on corporate innovation and one of the initiators of the Startup Fest Europe festival. He is Director Digital Technology and Macro Strategy at Macro Advisory Partners (MAP) in London and Edge Fellow at the Deloitte Center for the Edge, in which the company welcomes advice from a group of external visionary people.
Constantijn was a member of the ‘High Level Group of Innovators’, consisting of fifteen independent members advising the European Commission on improving Europe’s performance in breakthrough, market-creating innovations. After several international positions, he joined the European Commission in 2010. In 2017, Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien set up the Number 5 Foundation, a charity developing various innovatory initiatieves to address a range of social issues.
Prince Constantijn gained his Master’s degree in civil law at Leiden, in 1995. In 2000, he studied business economics at the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) at Fontainebleau, France.
Honorary promotors: Jos van Hillegersberg, Professor of Design and Implementation of Business Information Systems (Faculty BMS), Vanessa Evers, Professor of Human Media Interaction (Faculty EEMCS) and Maria Iacob, Professor of Enterprise Architecture and Business Information Systems (Faculty BMS).