2022 Hermesdorf Awards Honours Radboud University Researchers

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The Hermesdorf Award and the Hermesdorf Talent Award are awarded every year to researchers who have dared to take risks. This year, the awards go to Alma Tostmann, Chantal Bleeker-Rovers, and Kiane de Kleijne, who had the courage this year to speak up in the societal debate around respectively the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.

The two prizes are awarded every year to researchers who have shown a certain degree of courage, stuck their necks out, and refused to flinch in the face of opposition. Every year, the Hermesdorf Award goes to senior researchers at Radboud University or Radboud university medical center, and the Hermesdorf Talent Award goes to a researcher at the start of their career. Both prizes will be presented on 9 January 2023, during Radboud University’s New Year’s gathering.

Winner of the 2022 Hermesdorf Award
COVID-19 has dominated our world for nearly three years now. In addition to praise, scientific experts were also the recipient of many negative reactions, and sometimes even threats. For the past two years, epidemiologist Alma Tostmann and Professor of Outbreaks of Infectious Diseases Chantal Bleeker-Rovers have devoted a lot of energy to sharing their knowledge about the COVID-19 virus with the public. Within the Netherlands, the two have grown into some of the most important and familiar faces within the COVID-19 debate.

Alma Tostmann (l) en Chantal Bleeker-Rovers
They tirelessly and enthusiastically commented on current events and scientific developments, distinguishing facts from fiction, and inviting people into dialogue. In doing so, they showed themselves to be real ambassadors of science. During the most difficult waves of the pandemic, they were certainly no meek government mouthpieces. On the contrary, they also and especially spoke up when they believed that government policy was moving in the wrong direction. Time and again, they insisted that the government was not emphatic enough about the importance of respecting basic safety measures, such as testing in case of symptoms, going into isolation or quarantine, ventilating indoor spaces, and wearing face masks. In addition to appearances in national and regional media, the two researchers were also very active on Twitter, where they took the time and space to provide additional explanations. All these media appearances around COVID-19 took place outside their regular and busy working hours.

Kiane de Kleijne
Winner of the 2022 Hermesdorf Talent Award
The public debate around the climate is oftentimes heated, and climate researchers sometimes end up being the target of negative reactions. Kiane de Kleijne, PhD candidate in Environmental Science, conducts research on climate and the energy transition. She co-authored the IPCC report and published a 2022 scientific paper with an uncomfortable message: the reuse of CO2 is less sustainable than it seems. This publication attracted a lot of attention from national and international media this year.

Despite the grim atmosphere of the public climate debate, Kiane de Kleijne continued to speak up, with growing frequency and self-assurance. She took the time to extensively talk to journalists and explain important things about the climate, energy, and her specific research. Care for the climate is not only important in her work as a researcher, it also plays a central role in her private life. This summer, she opened her home to talk about it in an extensive interview with Vox.