Master of Ceremonies: prof. dr. ing. Bob van Eijk

Only one more week until the symposium will take place and you can still sign up until Thursday 6 December on our Sign-Up page! After each talk, there will be a discussion which is lead by our Master of Ceremonies:

Prof. dr. ing. Bob van Eijk

Bob van Eijk is research physicist at the national Institute for subatomic (astro)particle physics (Nikhef) in Amsterdam. After an education in electronics engineering and theoretical physics, he obtained a PhD in experimental physics in 1987 at the UA1 experiment (discovery of the Intermediate Vector Bosons) at CERN. In 1988 he joined the DELPHI experiment at the LEP collider and participated in the design of the ATLAS detector ( now operational at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva (discovery of the Higgs boson). End of 1992 he returned to the Netherlands on a C&C Huygens fellowship. Since 1998 he is chair holder for particle physics at the University Twente. During 2005/2006 he joined the D0 experiment at the Fermilab collider near Chicago to study very specific decay modes of the top quark.

Early 2003 he became one of the co-founders of the HiSPARC experiment (, a large array of cosmic ray detectors, build, installed and controlled by high-school students. The network has expanded towards the UK, Denmark and Namibia (more than 140 stations today). During past 15 years, the experiment also facilitated research for ~50 high-school physics teachers (1 day per week for 1 year).

In addition to coordinating the HiSPARC experiment and outreach, he currently focusses on revealing the properties of the Higgs boson with the ATLAS detector. Emphasis is on Higgs couplings to Standard Model particles and its so-called ‘self-coupling’. Latter is an essential ingredient defining the shape of the scalar (Higgs) potential in the Standard Model.

Programme complete!

All speakers have been announced, so now the programme for the symposium is complete. You can find it under the ‘Programme’ page! The deadline to sign-up is the 6th of December.

New speaker: prof. dr. Freya Blekman

Stay tuned on this website and on our Facebook page for introductions of our speakers. We are proud to announce our eighth and last speaker:

Prof. dr. Freya Blekman

After having obtained her MSc in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Amsterdam in the year 2000,  Freya Blekman went to the United States as PhD student at Nikhef to study the recently discovered top quark at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago. After her time at CERN as postdoctoral researcher for Imperial College London and Cornell University, she was recruted by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel as part of the Odysseus program of the National Fund of Scientific Research, which has the main objective to attract foreign talent to Flanders.

Blekman is an expert in interpreting particle physics collissions and building enormous experiments  with the associated accelerators. She occupied several leader’s positions at big international reasearch groups connected to CERN with hundreds of researchers. At the moment, Prof. Blekman coordinates the Super symmetry publication committee of the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at CERN and is a member of the team that determines the physics program for that same experiment, the so called Physics Coordination Office. Furthermore, she coordinates the top physics program for studies about future circular electron-positron accelerators (also known as the Future Circular Collider FCC-ee). Apart from several scientific awards, she received a yearly scientific communication award in 2016 from the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Arts for communicating the field of particle physics in a very understandable way.

New speaker: prof. dr. Auke-Pieter Colijn

Stay tuned on this website and on our Facebook page for introductions of our speakers. We are proud to announce our seventh speaker:

Prof. dr. Auke-Pieter Colijn

Symposium Arago 2018 Speaker

Auke-Pieter Colijn (1971) is a particle physicist working at the University of Amsterdam and at Nikhef, the Dutch institute for subatomic physics. After completing his PhD he joined the CDF experiment as a Fermilab research associate (Chicago). In 2003 he joined Atlas experiment, where he build the detectors that were later to find the Higgs boson. In 2011 Auke-Pieter joined the XENON collaboration that aims to find the particles that are responsible for most of the matter in our Universe.

We know since many years, that most of the matter in the Universe does not consist of the ordinary atoms that we all know. For every gram of ordinary matter there is about five grams of an as yet unknown substance that we call Dark Matter. In this talk I will describe the astrophysical evidence that makes us believe that Dark Matter exists.  Then I will focus on the strategies that we employ to discover new elementary particles that could be Dark Matter, with a focus on the XENON1T and XENONnT experiments in the underground Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy.

New speaker: prof. dr. Maarten de Jong

Stay tuned on this website and on our Facebook page for introductions of our speakers. We are proud to announce our sixth speaker:

Prof. dr. Maarten de Jong


Having performed various particle physics experiments at CERN, I have now focussed my career on the study of cosmic neutrinos. The study of cosmic neutrinos is one of the key components in the field of astro-particle physics. In 2006, I have been appointed as professor in the Netherlands in this relatively new field. The election as deputy spokesperson (2006–2009) of the Antares project, the spokesperson (2013–2017) of the KM3NeT project and EU-program coordinator (2017) speak for my leadership in this field.

The main objectives of the KM3NeT are the discovery and subsequent observation of high-energy
neutrino sources in the Universe and the determination of the mass hierarchy of neutrinos.
These objectives are strongly motivated by two recent important discoveries, namely:
The high-energy astrophysical neutrino signal reported by IceCube and the sizeable contribution of electron neutrinos to the third neutrino mass eigenstate as reported by Daya Bay, Reno and others.
Neutrinos are fundamental particles, probably best known for their reluctance to be detected.
In this colloquium, I will present the rationale as well as the technique of detecting neutrinos from the cosmos.

New speaker: dr. Ivo van Vulpen

Stay tuned on this website and on our Facebook page for introductions of our speakers. We are proud to announce our fifth speaker:

Dr. Ivo van Vulpen

Ivo van Vulpen (1973) is a particle physicist working at the University of Amsterdam and at Nikhef, the Dutch institute for subatomic physics. After completing his PhD he joined the CMS experiment as a CERN research fellow to prepare for the Large Hadron Collider running. He then joined the Atlas experiment, where he finally managed to find that particle that had been hiding in the vacuum for so long: the Higgs boson. At this moment his research focuses on the measurement of the lifetime of the Higgs boson.

Ivo is involved in several outreach projects. Together with fellow physicist Sense Jan van de Molen and the artists from Stichting Tegen-Beeld he initiated the muurformule-project in Leiden ( and earlier this year his popular science book on particle physics was published: ‘De Melodie van de Natuur’ (Atlas Contact, 2018).

In his talk he will discuss how particle accelerators have allowed us to penetrate ever deeper into the world of the very small, giving us insights in the structure of matter and the interactions, finally leading to the Standard Model. The discovery of the Higgs boson is discussed together with the open questions that keep particle physicists at CERN awake at night. What are these riddles and what are the ideas physicists dream of at the Large Hadron Collider that will solve them: new particles, new forces and new phenomena. Searching for new worlds deep underground in Switzerland. Adventure!

New speaker: prof. dr. Chris van den Broeck

Stay tuned on this website and on our Facebook page for introductions of our speakers. We are proud to announce our fourth speaker:

Prof. dr. Chris van den Broeck


Chris Van Den Broeck (1974) obtained his PhD in theoretical physics at the Pennsylvania State University (USA). After a postdoc at Cardiff University (UK) he joined the staff at Nikhef, the National Institute for Subatomic Physics in Amsterdam. As a member of the Virgo Collaboration, he was the initiator of the data analysis effort to use gravitational wave signals from merging binary neutron stars and black holes to test the strong-field dynamics of general relativity for the first time, and pioneered the analysis tools necessary to probe the internal structure of neutron stars with gravitational waves. During 2014-2016 he led, together with a counterpart in the US, the joint LIGO-Virgo analyses of the first gravitational wave detections. Since 2017 he is Professor by Special Appointment in Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology at the University of Groningen.

In his presentation “Gravity’s messengers: The direct detection of gravitational waves and what comes next”, Van Den Broeck will discuss the implications of the recent discoveries made with the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave detectors in terms of astrophysics, fundamental physics, and cosmology. In the next few years, the elusive neutron star equation of state will be measured; the celebrated black hole no-hair conjecture will be tested empirically; and an entirely new way of mapping the Universe will open up. Plans are being made for LISA, a future space-based gravitational wave detector, as well as a large underground facility called Einstein Telescope, which may be placed in the Netherlands. Together these will cover the entire visible Universe in a wide range of frequencies, with the possibility of finding the gravitational wave signature of the Big Bang itself.

New speaker: prof. dr. ir. Sander Bais

Stay tuned on this website and on our Facebook page for introductions of our speakers. We are proud to announce our third speaker:

Prof. dr. ir. Sander Bais

Quantum physics is one of the most profound and radical scientific theories ever conceived. It is not a theory of a particular system; it is a set of universal principles that apply to all of nature. And it is tremendously successful both because of its versatility and its precision. We start by contrasting the particle concept in the Newtonian paradigm and its quantum descendant that exhibits particle-wave duality. In the following parts we make the quantum descent into matter highlighting the novel features that emerge. We discuss the hierarchy from atoms down to the quarks and leptons of the Standard Model and even to superstrings. Along the way we encounter many properties that derive from the concept of quantum fields and their interactions, such as quantum spin, statistics, and antimatter. We mention the notion of color and flavor symmetries and their breaking as well as the meaning of mass in relation to the Higgs particle. Unveiling the physics of the smallest scales often leads to radically new universal insights, but it is especially rewarding because it links the physics of the smallest scales with the physics of the largest scales through that singular cosmic event called the Big Bang.

Sander Bais is emeritus professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Amsterdam and External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute in the US. He studied in Delft and got his PhD from the University of California. He has a broad interest and made research contributions varying from (astro) particle physics to string theory, from quantum information to condensed matter physics. He is well known advocate for the natural sciences in the broad sense and has written a number of popular science books with translations in more than 15 languages.

New speaker: prof. dr. Eric Bergshoeff

Stay tuned on this website and on our Facebook page for introductions of our speakers. We are proud to announce our second speaker:

Prof. dr. Eric Bergshoeff

Eric Bergshoeff (1955) occupies the Willem de Sitter Chair in Theoretical Physics at the University of Groningen. He is one of the inventors of the so-called supermembrane, an extension of string theory, that has the promise of solving the clash between gravity and quantum mechanics. He occupied postdoctoral positions in Boston (USA), Trieste (Italy) and CERN (Switzerland) and works since 1991 at the University of Groningen. He was appointed as an ‘Akademiehoogleraar’ by the KNAW in 2010.

In his presentation ‘Gravity according to Einstein’ he will show how gravity works according to Einstein. Einstein’s description of gravity already exists for more than a century and is still unchallenged. However, there are indications that the theory needs modifications if we try to describe gravity at very small or large distance scales. This brings us to issues such as gravitational waves, black holes, dark matter and string theory.

New speaker: dr. Alessandro Grelli

Every few days, starting today, we will introduce one of our speakers on this website and on our Facebook page. It is an honour to announce our first  speaker:

Dr. Alessandro Grelli

At present, Alessandro is assistant professor at the Utrecht University

in the institute of sub-atomic physics (SAP).  He is teaching advanced mechanics at the 3rd year bachelors and he is responsible of the SAP part of the 2nd year bachelor experimental stage. In addition, Alessandro is involved in several 

outreach projects with high school students. Among them he is coordinator, for the Utrecht province, of the HiSPARC project.

From the scientific side, in the past few years, he was awarded of the NWO VENI and VIDI grants for his studies on the Quark-Gluon-Plasma physics using heavy-flavour quarks as a probe. His main expertise is in data analysis with particular emphasis on D mesons production. In the period 2014-17 Alessandro served as coordinator of the D mesons and charmed baryons analysis group within the ALICE Collaboration and, since October 2017, he is serving as convener of the heavy-flavour physics group of the same experimental collaboration.