van der Stam

Ward van der Stam (UU) is tenure track Assistant Professor at Utrecht University in the Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis research group of Prof. Bert Weckhuysen.

What do you do?
My research at Utrecht University focuses on the combination of colloidal chemistry and in situ spectroscopy/diffraction techniques in order to understand and steer the electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction.

Colloidal nanomaterials
The overarching goal of my research is to rationally design electrocatalyst nanoparticles that selectively convert CO2 into value-added base chemicals and fuels, such as long-chain hydrocarbons and alcohols. For example, 16 products are known to evolve from copper electrocatalysts, and I want to understand why certain products form and how we can selectively make a specific product. I personally think that colloidal nanomaterials offer interesting opportunities to achieve this goal, since the size, shape and composition of these nanomaterials can be tailored with atomic precision, and these parameters heavily influence the outcome of the CO2 reduction reaction.

In situ electrochemical cells
Specific challenges of this research involve the design and construction of in situ electrochemical cells that are compatible with different characterization techniques (e.g. infrared and X-ray radiation) while ensuring the electrocatalytic performance (e.g. activity and selectivity of the CO2 reduction reaction). Currently, our team of PhD-students, postdocs and technicians is developing electrochemical cells for in situ surface-sensitive and time-resolved Raman spectroscopy, (Grazing Incidence) X-ray Scattering and Diffraction and X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy measurements, and future developments will focus on surface-sensitive Infrared Spectroscopy and fluorescence spectroscopy.

Future developments and collaboration
I think MCEC is an excellent environment for this research to take the next step and understand the CO2 reduction reaction in detail and valorize industrial CO2 waste streams. I look forward to many fruitful collaborations within MCEC, since the interdisciplinary background present within the community allows for out-of-the-box research and innovative science.

Read more about Ward van der Stam on the website of ICC UU


Maike Baltussen (TU/e) is an Assistant Professor at the research group Multiscale Modelling of Multiphase Flows of Prof. Hans Kuipers in Eindhoven.
Read more about Maike Baltussen on the website of TU/e

What do you do?
I’m specializing in simulating gas-liquid and gas-liquid-solid flows using mainly Direct Numerical Simulations. Within MCEC, I work on the flow in trickle beds and riser reactors. Besides, we are working on the formation of droplets in a spray dryer. Finally, soon a project on water electrolysis is starting.

A new sub-grid scale method
Besides these projects, my personal focus is trying to investigate the mass transfer from single bubbles. I have been developing a new sub-grid scale method, which enables us to simulate high Schmidt numbers. Currently I’m trying to extend this to multiple bubbles and bubbles interacting with structures.

Length and time scales
The main challenge in performing numerical simulations without rigorous assumptions is covering all the relevant length and time scales. For example, the boundary layer in mass transfer is much smaller than the hydrodynamic boundary layer (about 10-30 times). To resolve it, we have to create a higher resolution, which will result in a high grid count or very slow simulation (waiting for several months).

Future collaboration
The next step in multi-scale modelling of gas-liquid and gas-liquid-solid models is to optimize the code even further. This will enable us to model more realistic systems. In addition, the current models are only including simplified kinetics. To create a more realistic model, we have to include the realistic kinetics.

To include these, I think collaboration is of high importance. Currently I am collaborating with Ivo Filot, using his microkinetic modelling to include the essential kinetics in our reactor models. Combining this with the heat and mass transfer in our models, will enable us to make a realistic prediction of a real reactor.



Sander Huisman has obtained his PhD degree in physics at the University of Twente on turbulent Taylor Couette flows. During his postdoc he stayed for two years at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon looking at particles in turbulence.

Since September 2017 Huisman has returned to Twente to start as assistant professor. He will be leading the high Reynolds number turbulence and multi-phase flows part of the Physics of Fluids group and fulfil his teaching duties.

Turbulent flows are ubiquitous in industry and nature, and generally involve dispersed phases (bubbles, sand, etc.) for example in rivers, chemical reactors, atmospheric flows, etc. It is therefore important that we understand the properties of highly turbulent flows, and understand in detail how the dispersed phase acts inside the carrier flow. This can be important for catalytic reaction, where the catalyser should `explore’ the entire reactor.

At the University of Twente, he will look at high Reynolds number multi-phase flows inside the Twente Turbulent Taylor-Couette facility, the Boiling Twente Taylor Couette facility, the Twente Water Tunnel facility, and the newly constructed Twente Heat and Mass Transfer Tunnel.


I obtained my PhD degree from Utrecht University (2015). Currently (2016–2017) I am a NWO Rubicon postdoctoral fellow at ETH Zurich. Starting in 2017 I have joined the MCEC program, and from 2018 will fully return to Utrecht University. My research focuses on three main topics: (1) optical spectroscopy of (individual) nanoparticles; (2) modeling of charge-carrier and excited-state dynamics; (3) self-organization of nanoparticles into larger (ordered) superstructures.

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Florian Meirer (ScD) was born and raised in Vienna, Austria and studied technical physics at the Vienna University of Technology with special emphasis on X-ray physics, especially synchrotron radiation induced X-ray fluorescence analysis and absorption spectroscopy in total reflection geometry in the group of Prof.  Christina Streli. He graduated in 2008 and started a postdoctoral research fellowship (Erwin Schrödinger fellowship, Austrian Science Fund) at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, Menlo Park, USA in the group of Prof. Piero Pianetta. In 2010 he obtained a Marie-Curie Cofund fellowship and joined the team of Dr. Massimo Bersani at the Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento, Italy focusing on dopant activation research for advanced CMOS technology. Since 2013 he is employed as an Assistant Professor in the Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis group at Utrecht University, reinforcing the group of Prof. Bert M. Weckhuysen.

His current research (NWO VIDI Grant) focuses on the development and application of spectro-microscopic techniques (mainly but not limited to X-rays) for obtaining insights about nanoscale processes that are critical for a better understanding of how advanced functional materials operate at multiple length scales. His field of expertise in the area of atomic spectroscopy includes X-ray spectroscopic techniques, especially absorption spectroscopy in combination with 2D and 3D imaging or special experimental setup geometries (e.g. grazing incidence or grazing exit geometries), and, not limited to X-ray spectroscopy, multi-variate analysis of large spectroscopic data sets.

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Ivo Filot was born on the 28th of January, 1985 in Sittard. After having finished pre-university college at Trevianum Scholengroep in Sittard, he studied Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at the Eindhoven University of Technology.

During his Bachelor’s program, he undertook extracurricular courses in physics, mathematics and computer sciences. In 2007, he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree with the judicium cum laude. He started his Master’s program in the Molecular Engineering Track. His graduation project focused on the elucidation of the cooperativity effects in the stacking behavior of benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamides under the supervision of prof.dr. Bert Meijer.

At the end of his Master’s studies, he did an internship at Technip Zoetermeer where he optimized the insulation thickness of thermal cracking installations. In December 2009, he obtained his Master of Science degree with the judicium cum laude.

In January 2010, he started his Ph.D. research on the quantum chemical and microkinetic modelling of the Fischer-Tropsch reaction under the supervision of Emiel Hensen. In 2012, he was selected to participate in the 63rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. He has won the best lecture prize at the 14th Netherlands Chemistry and Catalysis conference as well as the best poster award at the 7th TOCAT conference in Kyoto, Japan. At the end of 2011, he founded the company Zuidstijl, which provides services in the development and maintenance of web-based inventory management software and web content management systems. Since 2015, he is employed as an Assistant Professor in the group of Emiel Hensen. His research endeavors relate to the elucidation of mesoscale processes in catalysis employing state-of-the-art computational simulations.

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Short description: I study the self-organization of colloidal particles using computer simulations. I focus on simple model systems where the interaction between the colloids is treated using coarse-grained potentials. Broadly, my research can be subdivided into two main categories: “passive” colloidal particles which self-assemble purely due to Brownian motion, and “active” colloidal particles which absorb energy from their environment in order to self-propel. Using a wide range of computational and theoretical techniques, I aim to predict and characterize the equilibrium and steady-state structures formed when these particles self-assemble. Moreover,I investigate the nucleation processes which govern the formation of these structures.

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We study concentrated colloidal dispersions subjected to external fields such as gravity, an electric field, or shear flow. This way we can manipulate the particles to assemble into complex ordered structures, to undergo (non-equilibrium) phase transitions, or to form patterns. The 3-dimensional structure and dynamics are studied mainly using confocal microscopy, but also with scattering techniques and rheology. For these experiments new colloidal particles with anisotropic shapes or interactions or with a composite core-shell structure are developed.

An example are the rod-like silica spheres developed in our lab, which are an ideal system in which to study equilibrium assembly into ordered structures using microscopy. Using image analysis and particle tracking algorithms we follow the positions and orientations of thousands of individual particles, leading to new insights in their collective behavior. An electric field polarizes and pulls on charged particles, and forces them to form yet different structures. We also apply them to keep the system far out of equilibrium to induce the formation of patterns such as lanes and bands. Shear flow is used in a similar way to study ordering and disordering behavior of colloidal systems far out of equilibrium.

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Marjolein Dijkstra studied chemical engineering at Wageningen University and physics at Utrecht University. She received her PhD degree at FOM-institute AMOLF, and worked in Oxford, Lyon, Bristol, and Shell Research Amsterdam. She started as an assistant professor in 1999 at Utrecht University and was appointed as full professor in 2007. Her group uses theory and simulations to obtain a better fundamental understanding on how colloidal building blocks self-assemble and how the self-assembly process can be manipulated by external fields such as gravity, templates, air-liquid or liquid-liquid interfaces, and electric fields. The group employs Monte Carlo, (event driven) Molecular and Brownian Dynamics simulations, Stochastic Rotational Dynamics simulations to include hydrodynamics, Umbrella and Forward flux sampling, free-energy calculations based on thermodynamic integration methods, and simulated annealing techniques to predict candidate structures, to determine the (non)-equilibrium phase behavior of colloids, nanoparticles, liquid crystals, etc. A better insight in the self-assembly process is essential for developing new materials.

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