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Lars Svankjær

Ewine van Dishoeck receives the Niels Bohr medal

Leiden professor of molecular astrophysics and astrochemistry Ewine van Dishoeck was presented with the Niels Bohr International Gold Medal on Friday 7 October. The medal, instigated by the Danish Society of Engineers IDA, was awarded by Queen Margrethe of Denmark at a ceremony at the Carlsberg Academy in Copenhagen.

Ewine van Dishoeck is a pioneer in the field of molecular astrophysics and astrochemistry and is among the most cited researchers in the field internationally. The research carried out by Van Dishoeck and her group encompasses the influence of nanoscale atomic and molecular processes on the macroscopic structure of galaxies, stars and planets.

Ewine poses with her brand new medal - Picture by Lars Svankjær

Her work focuses on some of humanity's biggest questions: Are we alone in the universe? And: How did our planet and life on it start? She uses the solid scientific basis of atomic and molecular processes to address these questions in her research. It therefore traces a direct line from Niels Bohr's pioneering work on the atomic model to current astronomical research on other worlds that form around distant stars. 

With her work, Van Dishoeck has consistently expanded the technological boundaries for astronomical observations, space  missions and laboratory experiments. She has played a leading role in the development of large telescopes on Earth and in space, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array and the James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched on Christmas Day 2021 and has now been providing spectacular images and data for several months. She has also been president of the International Astronomical Union, which represents more than 10,000 astronomers from nearly 100 countries, and scientific director of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA).

Niels Bohr

Ewine van Dishoeck is thirteenth in the line of remarkable physicists and engineers who have received the medal. The prize was established in 1955 in honour of Danish Nobel laureate Niels Bohr. Van Dishoeck thus joins a prominent group of winners, given that the medal has been awarded to no fewer than nine Nobel laureates over the years. Her previous awards include the Kavli Prize, presented for outstanding scientific breakthroughs in astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience.

The prize this year is a collaboration between the Danish Society of Engineers (IDA), the Niels Bohr Institute, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Aarhus and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. As well as the medal, the prize also includes a sum of 100,000 euros, donated by the Carlsberg Foundation.

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