Anne Meeussen wins the Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa thesis prize 2021

Credit: Anne Meeussen

The winner of the Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa physics thesis prize 2021 is Anne Meeussen. She carried out her PhD research in the group of Martin van Hecke (AMOLF/Leiden University) and defended her thesis in May 2021 cum laude.

The prize is an initiative of the Dutch Physics Council. The award is named after Paul Ehrenfest and Tatiana Afanassjewa because of their exceptional ability to stimulate young researchers to leave the beaten path. The prize winner receives a bronze statue and € 5,000, to be spent freely. The Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa physics thesis prize will be awarded during the Physics@Veldhoven conference in January 2022.

Creative and versatile
The PhD thesis of Meeussen is entitled “Imperfections: using defects to program designer matter”. She presents material design strategies that revolve around defects. By using topological defects and snap-through instabilities she creates materials with new properties. The jury complemented her creativity and free-thinking way of working to introduce new concepts in this relatively young research field. She combines theory, simulations and experiments in a very strong way.  She also presented the results in a very accessible way in her thesis and supported by clear illustrations, which makes her thesis a pleasure to read.

Read more about Anne and her research topic ‘The peculiar effect of a small error‘.

Honourable mentions
The jury was very pleased with the high level of the nominations and, in addition to the winning thesis, gives honourable mentions to the PhD theses of Guoji Zheng (QuTech/TUD), Melissa van Beekveld (RU/Nikhef) and Nico Hendrickx (QuTech/TUD).