24 April 2020

On Friday 24 April, seven professors from Radboud University and Radboud university medical center received telephone calls from the mayors of their towns informing them that they had been awarded royal honours for their exceptional scientific and social merits. The decorations will be presented at a time to be determined. The award recipients are:

  • Prof Paul Bovend'Eert, Professor of Constitutional Law
    Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau
  • Prof Ad Hermus, Emeritus Professor of Internal Medicine
    Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau
  • Prof Ans van Kemenade, Professor of English Language and Linguistics
    Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands
  • Prof John van Opstal, Professor of Biophysics
    Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau
  • Prof Judith Prins, Professor of Medical Psychology
    Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands
  • Prof Floris Rutjes, Professor of Synthetic Organic Chemistry
    Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands
  • Prof Paul Smits, Professor of Pharmacology
    Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau 
The Order of Orange-Nassau is associated with special merits for society.
The Order of the Lion of the Netherlands is granted for achievements in the fields of science and arts.

Prof Paul Bovend'Eert, Professor of Constitutional Law

Paul Bovend'Eert applies his academic expertise in the field of constitutional law to socially relevant topics. He contributes to the public debate on difficult constitutional issues and

has served on committees in which an academic assessment of the political process serves a social interest. For example, at the request of the Dutch Second Chamber, he conducted research into two Cabinet formations. In addition, he was recently a member of the Historical Research Team that produced a valuable report on the politically and socially sensitive documents relating to the King's constitutional allowance.
Prof Bovend'Eert is also very involved with the Faculty of Law and particularly concerned with the quality and educational feasibility of the instruction. His aim is to train high-quality lawyers for a strong constitutional state. He is also interested in the island of Curaçao and, more specifically, in the island's constitutional organisation and the School of Law at the University of Curaçao. Here, too, he shows himself to be a scholar with great dedication to the public interest.


Prof Ad Hermus, Emeritus Professor of Internal Medicine

In recent decades, Prof Ad Hermus has brought together many people with a focus on good health care for patients with hormonal disorders. He has provided better and more uniform care and treatment for patients with adrenal cortex insufficiency. He has also established guidelines for the treatment of Cushing’s patients. Cushing's disease, an excess of steroid hormones, affects patients long after recovery. Prof Hermus’s research has made it clear that these patients require a multidisciplinary rehabilitation programme.
He has also enabled early detection of congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a disease that can be life-threatening to newborns due to endocrine disruption. Thanks to Prof Hermus, screening for this condition has been part of the heel prick since 2002 and early diagnosis makes life-saving interventions possible.
Partly thanks to the efforts of Prof Hermus, the Endocrine Diseases section of Radboud university medical center has grown into one of the largest endocrinology centres in the Netherlands.

Prof. Ans van Kemenade, Professor of English Language and Linguistics

Ans van Kemenade spent almost ten years as chair of the board of the University Language Centre Nijmegen, which grew into a large expertise centre for language and communication. She laid the foundation for Radboud in'to Languages.
As chair of the Language Policy Committee (2009-2018), she focused on embedding the English language within Radboud University, safeguarding the quality of both Dutch and English and improving the intercultural skills of employees and students.
She was a board member of the Netherlands National Graduate School of Linguistics (LOT) for seven years, during which time it developed into an internationally recognised and exemplary research school. As a result, she has brought international attention to Dutch linguistic research.

On the Humanities domain board, she devoted herself to the self-organisation and internationalisation of the humanities. She also played an indispensable role in the collaborative project CLARIAH (Common Lab Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities). Thanks in part to her contribution within the Dutch Research Council (NWO), the Netherlands now plays a leading role in the digital revolution of the humanities in Europe. 

Prof John van Opstal, Professor of Biophysics

John van Opstal investigates sound localisation among human beings. With new knowledge about the way our brain determines where sound comes from, Prof. Van Opstal, in collaboration with Radboud university medical center and various companies, has contributed to the development of new types of hearing implants that enable people with hearing impairments to have conversations in all situations.
With his studies of coordinated eye and head movement due to external stimuli, he has taken an important step in understanding how we can see the world around us in a stable way. That knowledge can be applied in robots and self-navigating systems where the same problem needs to be solved. Prof Van Opstal applies this knowledge in collaboration with a research group in Portugal to make robots that also move their body, head and eyes. He has made his research accessible to a wide audience by, among other things, writing an influential book about auditory information processing.
In addition to teaching at the university, Prof Van Opstal has always shown a strong commitment to physics education at secondary schools by participating in committees and developing modules for pre-university secondary school pupils.

Prof Judith Prins, Professor of Medical Psychology

Judith Prins is a versatile clinician with extensive experience in the psychosocial counselling of adults and children with cancer. She used her expertise to build the Psychosocial Oncology research group, which enjoys international recognition in several innovative fields, such as the use of new technologies for psychological interventions via e-health. Prof Prins has developed e-health programmes for breast cancer patients and people with mental health problems. She can often be heard on the radio and TV, talking about the lives of cancer patients. She plans to design e-health programmes for more diseases, so even more patients can be helped.

Young cancer patients at any stage of treatment can come to the AYA (Adolescents and Young Adults) outpatient clinic for help with any problems caused by their disease. AYA outpatient clinics are now everywhere in the Netherlands, thanks to the initiative from Nijmegen in which Prof Prins played a key role.
Judith Prins is frequently consulted by colleagues at home and abroad because of her expertise in psychological intervention research (and the implementation thereof) in combination with e-health.

Prof Floris Rutjes, Professor of Synthetic Organic Chemistry

Floris Rutjes is an expert in the synthesis of organic compounds. His main focus is on developing sustainable synthesis methods for the production of small, often biologically relevant, molecules. In doing so, he focuses on new catalytic and environmentally friendly chemical pathways, for example by using different types of catalysts simultaneously for a particular chemical reaction.

He is also renowned for the development of new ‘click’ reactions to connect organic molecules to biomolecules. He discovered and brought to market two of the currently most widely used click reagents. Prof Rutjes has also made an impact with his research on ‘flow microreactors’ in organic synthesis, a new and promising technique for the efficient production of chemical compounds. He is one of the pioneers in this field worldwide. In addition to organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry, he also focuses on ‘flow’ chemistry in microreactor systems. This is a new and promising technique for the efficient and more environmentally friendly production of chemical compounds.
Prof Rutjes was the programme coordinator of the chemistry programme and was director of the Institute for Molecules and Materials for eight years. In 2016, he supervised the transition of the Bachelor's programmes in chemistry and molecular life sciences from Dutch to fully English-language programmes.

Prof Paul Smits, Professor of Pharmacology, former dean at Radboud university medical center, and vice-chair and acting chair of the Executive Board at Radboud university medical center

Paul Smits was appointed Professor of Pharmacology and head of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Radboud university medical center in 1995. Five years later, he became an educator in the field of clinical pharmacology within internal medicine.
He was scientific director of the Nijmegen Centre for Evidence Based Practice (NCEBP), chair of the board of the Institute for Quality and Safety Assurance (IWKV), member of the Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG) and member of the Standing Committee on Health Care at the Health Council of the Netherlands.
As dean and vice chair of the Radboud university medical center since 2012, Prof Smits has mainly focused on the new curriculum for medicine and biomedical sciences, the 2025 research agenda, the Digital Research Environment (DRE) and Radboud university medical center Technology Centers. He has advocated for a number of leading themes with which Radboud university medical center distinguishes itself, with the keywords person-centred, innovative and collaboration in networking. His internal focus was on strategic issues such as intensifying cross-departmental collaboration, moving towards a demand-driven organisation and collaborating within an academic medical network.
Smits inspires everyone to focus on developing an innovative, affordable and sustainable healthcare system that will still be there for our children's children. He promotes the establishment of high-quality external contacts with ministries, provinces and municipalities, as well as with political leaders. After the passing of Leon van Halder, Paul Smits assumed the role of chair of the Executive Board, he stepped down from that position last year December.
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