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). There I worked in three different groups. 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 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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