Full term funding for MCEC

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), who is responsible for the funding for the MCEC research program, has decided to allocate funding for MCEC until 2024.

This decision is a result of the hard work of all our MCEC Members, PhDs and PDs. A heartfelt thank you to all of them!

On behalf of the MCEC Management Team

20 December 2017

Symposium ‘Fuelling the Future’

MCEC organized its first outreach symposium, on catalysis and sustainability, last 14 December in the Academy Hall in Utrecht. The first half of the day consisted of a Minisymposium meant for the MCEC Community and invited third parties, and provided in-depth lectures by Ib Chorkendoff (Technical University of Denmark), Regina Palkovits (RWTH Aachen University), and Karsten Reuter (Technical University of Munich).

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The afternoon was aimed at a broader audience and open to anyone who was interested. Throughout the day, around one hundred guests were present for lectures by Ib Chorkendoff, Regina Palkovits, Peter-Paul Verbeek (University of Twente) and Ewald Breunesse (Manager Energy Transitions at Shell, who replaced Marjan van Loon who unfortunately was unable to attend). Cartoonist Paul Schenk summarized the event in drawings. The topics and views presented, the presence of some protestors, as well as the interesting and very in-depth questions from the audience, made for a lively discussion round that continued well into the closing round of drinks.

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The speakers were interviewed by three of our MCEC PhDs. Their articles will be published in February 2018 via our internal newsletter, as well as on www.mcec-matters.com. (If you’d like to stay updated, please register for our newsletter.)

MCEC would like to thank everyone who attended for a great afternoon!


14 December 2017

Pictures by Lennart Weber and MCEC Office

MCEC Strategic Meeting 2017

Last 5 and 6 December, the MCEC Strategic Meeting was held in Veldhoven (the Netherlands). Discussion sessions of the project clusters were an integral part to the programme.

On the first day, Tuesday the 5th, all PhDs and Postdocs started their cluster session with a short presentation of their project. This provided a good overall insight into the progress of the various projects, its results, and short and long term goals. PhDs and Postdocs were invited to bring their own topics (e.g. certain challenges or desired collaborations) into the subsequent cluster discussion. The day was closed with dinner and drinks.

The second day, Wednesday the 6th, consisted of two parallel sessions: the PhD Community participated in a workshop about scientific integrity while the MCEC MT and MCEC Members held the Strategic Meeting.

“Dealing with scientific misconduct: a part of an editor’s day-to-day work”, was the title of Dr. Francesca Novara’s lecture for MCEC’s PhD Community. In it, Francesca Novara, Senior Associate Editor at Chemistry – A European Journal spoke about the responsibilities of authors, referees and editors in publishing.

Prof. Bert Theunissen (Utrecht University) presented our community with “Dilemma’s of the Scientist”, a game in which the participants had to make a choice in various interesting, awkward and/or suspicious, but lifelike situations.

During the Strategic Meeting, the process and results of the midterm evaluation were discussed and the members were informed about the possible research themes and other second phase plans that lie ahead.

MCEC would herewith like to thank the whole MCEC Community for their input, insights and overall contribution to this meeting.


6 December 2017


Bert Weckhuysen appointed Distinguished Professor of Utrecht University

With effect from 1 January 2018, Bert Weckhuysen has been appointed Distinguished Professor in ‘Catalysis, Energy and Sustainability’ at Utrecht University.

Utrecht University has appointed a select group of professors as distinguished professors, academics whose work and standing transcend national and disciplinary boundaries. Rector Bert van der Zwaan: “Bert Weckhuysen’s appointment as a distinguished professor of Utrecht University will enhance the visibility of catalysis and energy research in Utrecht and will therefore also play a major role in the strategic theme of sustainability. The unusual thing about Bert’s assignment is that he will be experimenting with a new structure in which education, research and social applications are closely intertwined.”

Click here to read the full article and/or to watch a video in which Bert Weckhuysen talks about his plans, and colleagues and students in turn talk about him.


30 November 2017

PhD Excursion to Avantium and AMOLF

Last November 9th, a group of ten MCEC PhD-students and postdocs visited the Avantium and AMOLF facilities in Amsterdam. Avantium was already introduced by its CEO, Tom van Aken, during MCEC School 2017 and now everyone had the opportunity to see how this company in Amsterdam Westpoort works on renewable and biobased products like the PEF-bottle. AMOLF is an academic institute at the Amsterdam Science Park for fundamental physics focusing on the “physics of functional complex matter”. The excursion was initiated and planned by MCEC’s Team Community.

9 November, 2017

Krijn de Jong awarded by the Catalysis Society of South Africa

The Catalysis Society of South Africa (CATSA) aims to recognize excellence in catalysis research by overseas scientists. In acknowledgement of their significant contributions, an Eminent Visitor Award is presented to an influential researcher at the annual CATSA conference. These awards include a lecture tour of selected universities and main catalysis research centres in South Africa.

The 2017 Eminent Visitor awardee is Prof. Krijn P. de Jong (Utrecht University). De Jong visits and lectures at universities in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban and the Sasol laboratories in Sasolburg. He is the plenary speaker of the 2017 CATSA Conference in Pilanesberg National Park and receives the award at the conference dinner.

Read more on the website of CATSA.

27 October, 2017

MCEC School 2017

On behalf of the Education Committee, a warm thank you to all who participated in this year’s MCEC School. We look back on a very informative week in which we enjoyed a lot of interesting (guest) lectures from Bas Haring and Tom van Aken as well as research talks from MCEC members, and overall learned a lot of new things – who, for example, knew that SCUBA is actually the abbreviation of Super Cool Underwater Breathing Apparatus?

MCEC School was organized in Rhenen as part of the training program for MCEC PhDs and Postdocs. This year marked the third edition of this annual event, which contains basic and advanced lectures with emphasis on multiscale and multidisciplinary approach. To see the full program, click here.

The work of Bas Haring – Professor Public Understanding of Science at Leiden University – focuses on how science is best explained, from the scientist to the general audience. In his invited lecture on Monday night, Haring shared his vision about and tips and tricks on explaining science to laypeople. Keeping high school students in mind as the target audience in your communication is a good idea, for they can provide a frame of reference concerning a broader general audience.

Though Avantium is a relatively small company, it has a huge impact. For instance, they have developed a completely new, high-quality plastic made from plant-based industrial sugars: the PEF bottle (made from polymer polyethyl­enefuranoate). In his invited lecture on Tuesday night, Tom van Aken, CEO Avantium, discussed product development and marketing, and talked about biobased and renewable energy.

The Trouble Shooting Cases turned out to be very helpful. To Vishak Chandra, Aditya Sengar and Edwin Dollekamp it brought new insights in how to proceed with their research approach; a pre-solution for Vishak to solve his challenge and a new approach for Edwin to fabricate a nano-electrode, including the offered help of his colleagues to be able to test this new idea. New MCEC PhDs Michel van Etten and Valery Muravev also presented their projects and discussed their ideas about their approach and possibilities for collaborations with the MCEC PhD Community.

Team Community organized a quiz on science, music, geology and sports. This is where we learned that SCUBA, the Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, is actually Super Cool. We also learned how to get a group of 38 MCEC students drinking a beer at the bar completely silent: by showing them only emoticons as a means to convey song titles.

Below, you’ll find some pictures of MCEC School. If you have pictures yourself, please send them to us. As every year, our PhDs and Postdocs have received a survey request to provide the organization with feedback.

We thank all speakers and attendants for their contribution to the success of MCEC School 2017!


2-6 October, 2017


Jovana Zečević receives Edith Flanigen Award

Jovana Zečević will receive this year’s Edith Flanigen Award which is conferred annually by The Collaborative Research Centre 1109 at Humboldt University of Berlin to an exceptional female scientist at an early stage of her career (postdoctoral fellow, junior researcher) for outstanding results on metal oxide water systems.

The Edith Flanigen Award has been created in honour of Edith Flanigen, who performed groundbreaking work on molecular sieves at a time when women were rarely found working in highly complex scientific careers. The Award will be presented during a public Award ceremony on the 12th of October 2017 in Berlin.

We congratulate Dr. Zečević on winning this award!


27 September, 2017

Veni Grants for both Ivo Filot and Freddy Rabouw

MCEC Members Ivo Filot and Freddy Rabouw have both been awarded a Veni Grant 2017 by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). Veni is a part of NWO’s Talent Scheme programme. We wholeheartedly congratulate Ivo and Freddy on this great success!

A brief summary on their research projects (read more on the website of NWO):

Mesoscale simulations in catalysis
Dr. ir. I.A.W. (Ivo) Filot (m), TUE – Inorganic Materials Chemistry
Understanding catalysis at the all length and time scales is important in solving today’s environmental and energy challenges. The researchers will study how the structure of a catalyst changes during a chemical process. In this way, new ways can be identified to avoid premature catalyst deactivation.

Characterizing catalysis on the molecular scale
Dr. F.T. (Freddy) Rabouw (m), UU – Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science
Catalysts make chemical reactions faster and more efficient. A typical catalyst contains billions of active nanoparticles that together determine its properties. The researcher will study chemical reactions on the scale of individual catalytic nanoparticles. This will yield a better understanding of catalysis and contribute to the development of new catalysts.


28 July, 2017

Volker Hessel receives ERC Proof of Concept

The European Research Council (ERC) has granted prof. Volker Hessel Proof of Concepts. This ‘top up’ grant, worth €150.000 is designed to help ERC-funded frontier research maximize value.

The ERC Proof of Concept study allows the researchers to assess the options for marketing and to set up a concrete business plan for a spin-off company. This will ben PICASCOPiloting Cascaded Continuous Flow Synthesis for the Pharmaceutical Industry.

PICASCO aims to deliver the commercial proof of concept of a novel end-to-end flow manufacturing and a novel corresponding compact mini plant. This is performed through the first continuous 3-step solvent-free flow manufacturing of a pharmaceutically relevant compound at an industrial scale. Currently applied batch manufacturing techniques leave much room for improved quality, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and environmental friendliness. Flow multi-step manufacturing can address all these issues simultaneously, but to date has not been brought to an industrially useful scale. PICASCO sets out to scale this final barrier.

Read more on the newspage of TU/e.

July 25, 2017