Utrecht University: Kees van den Bos and Elly Hol member KNAW

Kees van den Bos and Elly Hol are two of the 22 new members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Members of the KNAW, eminent scientists from all disciplines, are elected based on their scientific achievements. The KNAW has approximately 585 members. Membership is for life. On 12 September, the new Academy members will be installed.

Kees van den Bos
Kees van den Bos external linkworks at the faculties of Law, Economics and Governance (LEG) and Social and Behavioural Sciences where he holds two chairs: Social Psychology and Empirical Legal Science. He often works together with scientists from different disciplines and always tries to apply fundamental insights to important social issues.

His research focuses on social conflicts in our democratic constitutional state. To this end, he studies fundamental questions about the experience of (un)justice, uncertainty and trust. In doing so, Van den Bos integrates social psychology with empirical law research.

Insights from his fundamental research are applied in important social contexts. Among other things, it appears that when people are treated fairly, this increases their trust in the democratic constitutional state. Conversely, perceived injustice fuels various forms of radicalisation. Van den Bos actively engages in the public debate and, as an advisor and teacher, contributes to the understanding and prevention of radicalisation and polarisation in corona and other circumstances.

Kees van den Bos has more than 200 publications to his name. He obtained his doctorate cum laude in 1996 in Leiden on social psychological research into social justice. Since then, he has been awarded various research grants (including a grant as Academy Researcher from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, a VICI grant from NWO, and various grants from ministries). Education is also very important to him. Kees has been elected three times as Psychology Teacher of the Year at Utrecht University. He is committed to the First Generation Fund at the UU and looks forward to working within and outside the KNAW for high-quality, accessible and relevant science.

Van den Bos himself considers the election an enormous honour. “After my PhD, the KNAW gave me wonderful support through a grant as an Academy researcher. Such a grant enabled you to do research without interruption for five years, after which you got a permanent job at the university. The news was announced to you by telegram, so you are in bed late at night when someone rings the doorbell with ‘a telegram for Van den Bos’. And now to be allowed to become a member of the Academy is something I really appreciate.”


Elly Hol external linkis Professor of Gliabiology of Brain Diseases and head of the Translational Neuroscience Department at the UMC Utrecht Brain Centre. She was trained as a medical biologist with a specialisation in molecular neurobiology. After obtaining her PhD in Utrecht, she was awarded a Max-Planck Fellowship to work at the Max-Planck-Institute for Psychiatry in Martinsried. In 2015, Hol was appointed Professor of Gliabiology of Brain Diseases. From 2013 she has worked as a principal investigator and from 2020 also as a department head in the Translational Neuroscience Department. She is a member of the Academia Europaea, chair of the scientific advisory board of Parkinson Netherlands, chair of GliaNed, programme leader of the Neuroscience master’s and PhD programme at Utrecht University Graduate School of Life Sciences, and education manager at the Brain Division of UMC Utrecht.

The KNAW writes: “Elly Hol (1966) belongs to the still small but growing group of neuroscientists who are dedicated to the biology of glia. These are non-neuronal cells that play a crucial role in keeping our brain healthy. They act as stem cells and immune systems, but they can also go off the rails. Hol has published a number of highly cited articles, in which she reveals a correlation between certain proteins in the human brain and glia cells that play a role in the development of brain tumours and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. She is an important source of inspiration for young researchers, including through the national Glia network she leads and through personal mentorships for young female researchers.”

“I am very happy with this recognition for my research on glia,” said Elly Hol herself. “I could not have done this research without the enormous commitment of all the PhD students, postdocs, researchers, research analysts, and students who have worked in my group over the years in Amsterdam and in Utrecht. I also think it’s great to see how the group of glia researchers in the Netherlands and internationally has grown. The collaborations with colleagues at home and abroad and the support of funding bodies make it possible to discover new aspects of neuron-glia interactions in brain diseases. I am also very enthusiastic about new technologies, such as molecular single cell studies on human post-mortem brain material and functional studies in patient minicells, which are of great importance for my research on glia in brain diseases.”

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