Organizing Committee

All pictures were taken by Lea Kornau.

Hilde Roijakkers

Chairwoman | Chemistry of Life (M)

I am Hilde Roijackers and I am a first year master student Chemistry of Life. I joined the committee about two years ago and after a year of being a general member, I am now the chairman of the symposium committee for the second time. The theme of this year, hacking nature, is a very broad and interesting theme. One of the things that comes to my mind first is biomimicry for chemical applications such as new materials, but also genetically modified organisms and the physical limits of humans and nature as a whole. These subjects are very fascinating to me, both due to the research that is being performed and because of the ethical questions it gives rise to. With this symposium, I hope that the students will learn more about these interesting topics and that it will be an enjoyable and thought-provoking symposium!

Inge van Creij

Secretary | Chemistry of Life (M)

My name is Inge and I am a second year’s master student Molecular Life Sciences. This is the fourth symposium that I will be organizing with the committee. I think that this year’s theme ‘hacking nature’ is really inspiring, as it gives examples of several techniques and applications of humankind that can be substantially improved if we peek how nature tackles these problems. It has been through millions of years of evolution, and we would just be fooling ourselves if we think that mankind can improve a lot of these natural processes to make them more efficient or more effective. Think for example of snails that carry self-repairing homes, or spiders that can produce a thread by theirselves which is so strong that they can hold onto it with their complete body weight. These kinds of materials are just fascinating when you think about it (can you imagine us living in self-repairing houses??), so I think the time has come to embrace nature-inspired materials, especially if we want to move towards a sustainable society.

Carolijn van Straaten

Treasurer | Molecular Mechanisms of Disease (M)

I am Carolijn van Straaten and I am a first-year student of the master Molecular Mechanisms of Disease. I joined this committee three years ago, after the “LED there be light!” symposium. This is my second year as the treasurer of this committee. The theme of this year’s symposium, Hacking Nature, interests me a lot, because the ability of humankind to potentially improve the mechanisms, structures and organisms found in nature is truly fascinating to me. But of course, we should also actively think about what the implications of all of these innovations may be. I hope that this symposium will spark your imagination with regards to all possibilities that there are, but also that it will make you think about the ethics of this field of science.

Marieke van der Maden

Head of Promotion | Molecular Life Sciences (B)

My name is Marieke van der Maden and I am a second-year Molecular Life Sciences student. I joined the committee because I enjoy learning about all kinds of research in the molecular sciences field, for instance research that involves “Hacking Nature”. This is my first symposium as the head of promotion, which I find very exciting! The theme of this year speaks to me, because I find it really impressive and creative how people adapt concepts out of nature, for their own research. It is known that processes in nature function very efficiently, this makes them very interesting to study. I hope that the students will leave the symposium enjoyed and inspired, full of ideas for their own future research.

Thijs de Jong

General Member | Chemistry of Life (M)

I am Thijs de Jong, this year is the second year of my masters. I have always been fascinated with the ingenious designs and solutions nature has been able to develop. Starting in high school where we thought about ATP synthase, this little molecular motor apparently ‘powering’ our body sparked an interest in biology and chemistry in me that ultimately led me to this field of study. Since then my interest in all the intricate mechanisms of life, and how they can be used in other ways, has only grown. Needless to say I am very excited for the speakers that we have invited this year, and look forward to learning more about how nature is inspiring today's research. Or how the limits apparently posed by nature drive researchers to seek ways to go beyond these limits.

Rustem Salmenov

General member | Molecular Life Sciences (B)

My name is Rustem, I'm a rookie member of the symposium committee, studying Molecular Life Science. Current year topic is based on the idea of hacking nature. I have some friends who are studying computer sciences and they don’t really believe in the concept of hacking, since nature is not a computer right? Personally, I’m fascinated by this topic, since when I’m telling them about research and achievements related to this field, they are hooked too. For example treatment sickle cell disease with CRISPR, simple calculations made with use of DNA, usage of DNA to store binary information etc. Our committee invited people who are specialists in their area of study and we hope to hear some interesting stories from them. We also hope you will find our symposium interesting and attend it again next year.