University of Groningen: Three prizes awarded during UG Ceremony of Merits

The UG awarded three different prizes to excellent researchers and students during the Ceremony of Merits on 1 July 2022. The Gratama Science Award for young, promising researchers was awarded to Dr Hamidreza Kasaei (Faculty of Science and Engineering). The Wierenga-Rengerink PhD Award for the best UG dissertation was awarded to Dr Fardo Eringa (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies). In addition, the best student of each faculty was presented with a GUF-100 prize worth €2,500, intended for study or research purposes.

Ceremony of Merits
The annual Ceremony of Merits focuses on accomplishments. Everybody who has significantly contributed to the UG in the past year is given the spotlight, whether they are an academic, support staff member, or student. In addition, the prizes mentioned above are awarded. The Ceremony of Merits was held for the first time ever this year. The prizes have existed for longer, and were previously awarded during the annual UG Summer Ceremony.

About the prizes and winners:

Hamidreza Kasaei
Gratama Science Award
Hamidreza Kasaei, assistant professor at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, was awarded the Gratama Science Award for his research on two-armed robots that learn to manipulate objects on the basis of visual information. This research has led to the development of socially relevant applications, from agricultural to medical robots. His research has already received significant international attention.

The Gratama Science Award is intended for young, promising, and active academics who distinguish themselves through innovative, striking, and societally relevant research. The Award is awarded either to a staff member of the UG or of Leiden University, alternating each year. The winner receives €20,000. The other nominees, this year Lieuwe Zijlstra (University College Groningen) and Yuliya Hilevych (Faculty of Arts), each receive €2,500.

Fardo Eringa
Wierenga-Rengerink PhD Award
Fardo Eringa, the winner of the Wierenga-Rengerink PhD Award, received this award for her dissertation on Michael Jackson’s superfans. Eringa described how these fans derive their worldviews from their status as fans. Commemorations are still paid to the late pop star, such as a virtual monthly prayer and an annual pilgrimage. Eringa researched these customs and the impact that the King of Pop still has on the beliefs of his followers. She concluded that Jackson pilgrims intentionally build on their status as Michael Jackson fans.

The Wierenga-Rengerink PhD Award is awarded to the UG PhD student who has submitted the best dissertation over the past calendar year. Each faculty chooses its own winner, from which a jury of former rectors appoints the ultimate winner. Only exceptionally good theses are eligible (at least with the cum laude honours predicate). The Wierenga-Rengerink family funds the prize. The winner receives €7,500 to be spent on further academic development.

GUF-100 prizes
Finally, the following excellent students of the 11 UG faculties were chosen for the GUF-100 prize, comprising a grant worth €2,500 for each student, intended for study or research purposes:

Anna Sophie den Ouden, Faculty of Economics and Business
Noa Noëlle Schwensfeier, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Yasmine Bouzoraa, Faculty of Law
Sam Alma, Faculty of Philosophy
Amber Souleymane, Faculty of Arts
Siawosh Eskandari, Faculty of Medical Sciences
Tineke Reitsma, Faculty of Spatial Sciences
Ece Aydın, University College Groningen
Bas Ankoné, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences
Renée de Vries, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies
Tabio Romanski, Campus Fryslȃn

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