Education and professional life
I was born in 1943 in Leersum (Netherlands) and studied Applied Physics at the Deft University of Technology from 1960-1966. In 1969 I received my PhD at the same institute ('A nuclear magnetic resonance studies of hydrogen bonding in varioous solvents').
After my PhD and a year as post-doc at the School of Molecular Sciences of the University of Sussex (Brighton, UK), I joined in 1970 Philips' Research Laboratories in Eindhoven (Netherlands). Work in the group Display principles was concerned with the physics of liquid crystals, including some early work on LCD’s. In 1978 I became associate professor at the Solid State Physics Laboratory, University of Groningen, where I set up a research group on liquid crystal physics. During those years I authored two monographs: ‘Physical Properties of Liquid Crystalline Materials’, which was also translated into Russian and Japanese, and together with G. Vertogen ‘Thermotropic Liquid Crystals, Fundamentals’.
In 1984 I joined the newly founded Open University of the Netherlands (Heerlen) as full professor, setting up the new Science Department. I built up an interdisciplinary science group and developed a degree program Environmental Science. I served for almost a decade as dean of the faculty and also functioned for some years as rector of the Open University. In that context I organized the tenth aniversary in 1994. In addition I became part-time associated with the FOM-Institute AMOLF in Amsterdam and started a new group Order/Disorder in Soft Matter. Problems in liquid crystals physics, including phase transitions and surface ordering, were investigated using modern x-ray methods. In 1997 I left the Open University, became full-time scientific group leader at AMOLF and gradually shifted my interest to polymer physics. In 1999 I was appointed as professor ‘Physical characterization of polymers’ at the Eindhoven University of Technology (part-time). X-ray studies of soft matter at synchrotrons have been a constant factor during the last decades of my professional life.
I left the FOM Institute AMOLF in 2007 and continued scientific work as research professor and director of X-ray facilities at the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at UMass-Amherst (Massachusetts, USA). In 2010 we returned from the USA to the Netherlands. From 2011 till 2018 I was half-time associated with DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials at RWTH Aachen University (Aachen, Germany).
I have given numerous invited talks on liquid crystals and soft matter at various international conferences. In 2012 I was awarded the Frederiks Medal of the Russian Liquid Crystal Society for ‘outstanding results in the field of physics of liquid crystals’. In 2018 I received the Alfred-Saupe-Prize of the German Liquid Crystal Society in recognition of 'outstanding achievements both in liquid crystal and soft matter science and long-standing and fruitful relations to liquid crystal research in Germany.'
H-index: 44 (Fall 2017).
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