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Distinguished Lecture by Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf on "The Frontiers, Borders and Limits of Science"


Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf has been a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Amsterdam since 2005, where he has held the chair of Mathematical Physics since 1992. In 2008 he was made President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.



Professor Dijkgraaf studied physics and mathematics at Utrecht University and received his Bachelor's degree in 1982. After an interlude studying painting at Amsterdam's Gerrit Rietveld Academy, he gained his PhD cum laude in Utrecht in 1989. His supervisor was the Nobel Prize winner Gerard 't Hooft. Professor Dijkgraaf subsequently held positions at Princeton University and at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study.



Professor Dijkgraaf's current focus is on string theory, quantum gravity, and the interface between mathematics and particle physics. His research was recognized in 2003 with the award of the NWO (The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific award in the Netherlands. Professor Dijkgraaf has been a visiting professor at many universities including Harvard, MIT, Berkeley and Kyoto. He is on the editorial board of numerous scientific periodicals and on the scientific advisory board of institutes in Cambridge, Bonn, Stanford, Dublin and Paris.



Many of Professor Dijkgraaf's activities are at the interface between science and society. His column in the NRC Handelsblad newspaper is intended for a broad public and deals with science, the arts and other matters. A collection has been published in his book Blikwisselingen (Bert Bakker, 2008). Professor Dijkgraaf is dedicated to bringing about greater public awareness of science, for example through his involvement with popular science programmes on television. He also initiated (and finances) www.proefjes.nl, a website that allows children aged 8 and up to carry out simple scientific experiments.



Professor Dijkgraaf was also a member of the Second Innovatieplatform, chaired by the Dutch Prime Minister. Since 2009 he is co-chair of the InterAcademy Council, a multinational organization of science academies, together with Professor Lu Yongxiang, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


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