Project Management

Stefan Vandoren

Stefan is the project leader. He has a background in theoretical physics, works on string theory, is crazy about black holes and lives in Utrecht. Originally he is from Belgium en therefore regularly enjoys a good Belgian beer, preferably combined with a chat about black holes...

Peter Jonker

Peter is closest to Stefan in organizing the project and he has a background in astrophysics. His research focuses on the formation and evolution of black holes.  Stefan and Peter share a deep interest in black holes and their vision is to use black holes to bind (pun intended) people from different disciplines and backgrounds. This shared vision of how to set up such an enthusiastic black hole crew makes them a great team together. Peter lives in Amersfoort and enjoys going for a ride on his racing or all-terrain bike.

Maureen Voestermans

Maureen is the DBHC project manager. Although officially mainly trained as a biomedical scientist, she followed physics courses in the first year of her studies at the University of Amsterdam and now got back to this old passion at the DBHC. You can always reach out to her if you need more information about the project (see contact information). She lives in Amsterdam and additionally works as a historical tourguide.

Board members

Jan de Boer (boardmember)

Jan de Boer studied mathematics and physics in Groningen ('89), and obtained his doctorate in 1993 in Utrecht. He then completed a postdoc in the US at Stony Brook and Berkeley.  Since 2000 Jan has been professor of theoretical physics at the UvA and head of the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Amsterdam. Additionally, he is one of the initiators of GRAPPA (GRavity and AstroParticle Physics Amsterdam) and Delta ITP (Institute for Theoretical Physics). 

Joanna Holt (boardmember)

Joanna Holt is assistant professor of Science Education at the Centre for Applied Research in Education at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS). Joanna obtained her PhD in extragalactic astrophysics in Sheffield, UK in 2005. After a number of years in postdoctoral research in Sheffield and Leiden, Joanna’s interest shifted towards education and public engagement, and she moved to ESTEC to work in the ESA education team. In 2016, Joanna became the chair of the Science & Humanities group at the Primary Teacher Training Institute (Pabo) of the, lecturing in Science in Primary Education before taking up her current role in 2020. Alongside her position at the AUAS, Joanna works as the Education Manager for the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA), based at the University of Amsterdam. Joanna is also the IAU National Coordinator for Astronomy Education for the Netherlands and is a member of the editorial board for In DBHC, Joanna will combine her expertise in astrophysics and education, co-leading WP7 with Pedro Russo, supervising the WP7 PhD project and contributing to the other three educational WP. 

Gideon Koekoek (boardmember)

Gideon Koekoek (1979) graduated Cum Laude in theoretical physics at the Free University of Amsterdam (VU) and then obtained his doctorate in the Virgo group of Nikhef studying gravitational waves. After his PhD, he worked for a few years as a leader of the physics section at a secondary school in Amsterdam and as a lecturer at Leiden University. Since the summer of 2017, Gideon works as an assistant professor at Maastricht University, where he conducts research into gravitational waves in close collaboration with Nikhef. In the DBHC he will work on the exhibition and science communication project surrounding the Einstein Telescope (ET) project in South-Limburg.

Frank Linde (boardmember)

Frank Linde works at the gravitational wave group at Nikhef. He is closely involved in everything surrounding the Einstein Telescope (ET). At the DBHC he will work together with the geophysicists in our team to explore the possible location for the ET. Aside from physics, Frank loves sports (kitesurfing, canoeing) and board games. 

Elena Maria Rossi (boardmember)

Elena Maria Rossi was born in Milan, Italy. She obtained her PhD at the University of Cambridge with her thesis “Structure and energy content of gamma-ray burst jets”. Elena held a Chandra Fellowship at University of Colorado and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Currently, she is an Associate Professor at the Leiden Observatory. Within the DBHC she will work together with Peter Jonker at our Citizen Science project, detecting transient events in the night sky.

Sera Markoff (boardmember)

Sera did her PhD in 2000 in the Theoretical Astrophysics Program at the University of Arizona, and now she is a full professor of Theoretical High Energy Astrophysics at the Anton Pannekoek Institute (API) for Astronomy, University of Amsterdam. She is also Vice-Chair of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Science Council that produced the first image of a black hole. And she is an affiliated member of GRAPPA. At the DBHC she will work on the next generation data analysis and dynamical image reconstruction for the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Additionally, she will be strongly involved in setting up our educational program including the exhibition at Rijksmuseum Boerhaave.

Pedro Russo (boardmember)

Pedro Russo is assistant professor of astronomy and society at Leiden University (LU) and coordinator of the Astronomy & Society group. Additionally, Pedro is the president of the International Astronomical Union Commission on communicating astronomy with the public. In the DBHC he will focus on developing educational material about black holes for schoolchildren.

Geert-Jan Vis (boardmember)

Geert-Jan Vis works as a geologist at Geological Survey of the Netherlands, part of TNO. He is working on geological mapping of the Dutch subsurface. He is interested in many aspects of the earth sciences and its relations with other fields. Also, he wrote the book 'Wine from Dutch soil', in which he researched the relationship between subsoil and wine! In the DBHC he will help study the possible location site for the ET.

Consortium members

Alessandro Bertolini

Alessandro is senior researcher at the gravitational physics group of Nikhef. Here, he tries to develop technologies for gravitational wave interferometers - for example, he makes sure the mirrors inside the interferometer hang really still. In the DBHC, Alessandro will work together with Stefan Hild on new technologies for the ET.

Marcel ter Brake

Marcel ter Brake is professor and chair holder of Energy, Materials and Systems at the University of Twente (UT). He is specialized in cryogenic technologies and also investigates the use of superconductivity in large-current applications, focusing on systems to be applied in future energy chains. 

Jo van den Brand

Jo is the co-initiator of Einstein Telescope (ET) and he also initiated Nikhef’s gravitational physics program in the Netherlands (which he directed until 2017). Jo previously held positions at MIT, the University of Wisconsin, and at Nikhef. Currently he is a professor at Maastricht University and special professor at VU University Amsterdam. Additionally, he also initiated Innoseis, one of our co-fund partners.

Bert Bredeweg

Bert Bredeweg is professor of science education at the Amsterdam University of Applied Science (AUAS) and associate professor at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). His research concerns Artificial Intelligence in Education, particularly investigating how learners create knowledge and acquire skills, and how this can be supported using digital technology. At the AUAS, Bredeweg leads the Smart Education lab.

Chris van den Broeck

Chris is professor of Gravitational Waves Physics at the Department of Physics at Utrecht University (UU). Before this he studied physics at the University of Leuven and obtained his PhD in theoretical physics from Pennsylvania State University in 2005. He also worked as a researcher at Cardiff University and since 2009 he is part of Nikhef in Amsterdam as well. 

Sarah Caudill

Sarah is a physicist specialized in search algorithms for gravitational waves in LIGO and Virgo data coming from the coalescence of compact binary objects (these include binary neutron stars and black holes). She is also a member of the Virgo Collaboration which oversees the running of the Advanced Virgo gravitational-wave detector near Pisa, Italy.

Alejandra Castro

Alejandra started in this consortium as an associate professor at the Institute of Physics, University of Amsterdam. She did her PhD in physics at the University of Michigan studying string Theory effects on black hole physics. From 2023 on Alejandra became associate professor at the University of Cambridge.

Jeroen van Dongen

Jeroen studied theoretical physics at the University of Amsterdam and obtained his doctorate in history of science from the same university in 2002. After positions at Utrecht University, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology he is currently Professor of History of Science at the University of Amsterdam.  In his research he mainly studies the history and philosophy of twentieth-century physics. He also wrote the book Einstein's Unification.

Laslo Evers

Läslo studied Geophysics at Utrecht University. After his graduation, he started working at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). Läslo now heads the R&D group of Seismology and Acoustics at the KNMI. 

Heino Falcke

Heino is Professor in Astroparticle Physics and Radio Astronomy at the Institute for Mathematics, Astronomy and Particle Physics (IMAPP) at the Radboud University. He studies the role of super massive black holes and jets in glaxies, and accretion physics through theoretical, observational and experimental astronomy. In 2000, Falcke coined the term ‘shadow of the black hole’ for the effect of light bending around the event horizon. 

Gertie Geertsema

Gertie works as a senior scientist in the R&D Climate and Weather Models Department at KNMI. She graduated in Astronomy and Mathematics at the university of Groningen (RUG-NL) and holds a PhD in Astronomy, Physics and Mathematics received at the University of Utrecht. Her research field in meteorology focuses on the optimal use of numerical weather prediction (NWP) models via the development of post-processing models and tools and guidance to end users. 

Stefan Hild

Stefan Hild is professor of Experimental Physics at the Faculty of Science and Egineering of Maastricht University (MU). He previously worked at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), the University of Birmingham and the University of Glasgow. He is the project leader of the ETpathfinder project and has contributed many ideas and designs to the Einstein Telescope. Hild has been active in gravitational wave research for the past 20 years and he has been part of the international team which discovered gravitational waves from two colliding black holes in 2015.

Tanja Hinderer

Tanja is an assistant professor in gravitational-wave theory at Utrecht University. Her research interests include modeling sources of gravitational waves, studying the physics of neutron stars and their equation of state, probing the nature of black holes, understanding dynamics in strong gravitational fields, among other topics. She is also leader of the workpackage on analytical models for MBHBs in the LISA consortium.  

Gerard 't Hooft

Gerard is is a theoretical physicist and professor at Utrecht University. He shared the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics with his thesis advisor Martinus J. G. Veltman "for elucidating the quantum structure of electroweak interactions".  His work concentrates on gauge theory, black holes, quantum gravity and fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics. His contributions to physics include a proof that gauge theories are renormalizable, dimensional regularization and the holographic principle

Michiel van der Meulen

Michiel studied geology at the Utrecht University. After obtaining his PhD he started working on mineral resources and supplies at Rijkswaterstaat (directorate-general of Public Works and Water Management). In 2003, Michiel joined the Geological Survey of the Netherlands, part of TNO, where he continued working on minerals and the relationship between land use and geology. Since 2006, he held various leadership positions, and his scope and responsibilities have broadened to the delivery of geological information in general. Michiel is firmly committed to advance our understanding of geology for the public good.

Monika Moscibrodzka

Monika is an assistant professor at the Department of Astrophysics at the Radboud University (RU). She is also a member of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration (EHT) which in 2019 published the first image of a black hole. Within the EHT collaboration she lead all the efforts measuring the polarization of the M87 ring.

Gijs Nelemans

Gijs (born in Paramaribo in 1971) is professor of gravitational wave astrophysics at the Radboud University Nijmegen. He is also head of the astronomy department. In addition, he is professor of high-energy astrophysics at KU Leuven since 2011. He studies the evolution of binary stars and sources of low-frequency gravitational waves.

Samaya Nissanke

Samaya is the spokesperson and associate professor at GRAPPA (a center of excellence in gravitation and astroparticle physics) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Netherlands. She is also a joint faculty member at the Anton Pannekoek Institute (astronomy) and the Institute for High Energy Physics (IHEF) at UvA and a member of Nikhef.

Frank Saueressig

Frank is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics, and Particle Physics of the Radboud University Nijmegen. His research focuses on theoretical high energy physics centered on questions related to Quantum Gravity. His research explores consequences of quantum gravity effects in cosmology, black hole physics and the microscopic structure of spacetime. 

Elwin Savelsbergh

Elwin is a professor of Curriculum Development in Primary and Secondary Education at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool Utrecht). His drive is to help providing the best Science and Technology Education to all, as a contribution to an inclusive, sustainable, and prosperous society. After graduating in physics, he started his educational research career from a solidly cognitivist perspective by investigating how students' mental representations affect their physics problem solving performance. 

Matteo Tacca

Matteo works as a physicist at Nikhef and is the Virgo commissioning coordinator.

Erik Verlinde

Erik is a theoretical physicist and string theorist at the UvA. He has a formula named after him, "the Verlinde formula", which is important in conformal field theory and topological field theory. His research deals with string theory, gravity, black holes and cosmology. He is very interested in the theory of entropic gravity.

Our PhD's/PD

Noemi La Bella (PhD)

Noemi La Bella is from Italy, and she obtained the M.Sc. in Astrophysics and Cosmology at the University of Bologna. She specialized her M.Sc. studies in observational astronomy at radio wavelengths, carrying on a project focused on the analysis of Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) data. Currently, she is a PhD student at Radboud University and a member of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration. Her work for the DBHC concerns the collection, calibration, and imaging of supermassive black hole radio observations. She loves playing the piano and chess!

Steven Bloemen (PD)

Steven is project manager at Radboud Radio Lab, where he coordinates astrophysical instrumentation projects such as the development of the BlackGEM and MeerLICHT telescopes. He obtained his PhD on compact binary stars and stellar variability at KU Leuven, Belgium, in 2013. Together with Peter Jonker, Steven will set up the DBHC Citizen Science project. 

Ilham Bouisaghouane (PhD)

Ilham holds a master degree in Theoretical Physics and a master degree in Education. She will be doing her PhD in Astronomy education at the University of Leiden in collaboration with the Amsterdam University of Applied Science (AUAS) and the DBHC.

Iris van Gemeren (PhD)

My name is Iris, I'm from the Netherlands and did my Master's in theoretical physics at Utrecht University. During the master research I focussed on theoretical modelling of gravitational waves from black hole binaries in alternative gravity theories. During my PhD I will continue to specialize further in the direction of testing gravity models and the black hole solutions within using gravitational waves. Further interests lie with physics education, reading, writing and going climbing with friends!

Jildou Hollander (PhD)

Jildou recently finished her master's degree in theoretical physics and wrote her thesis in the string theory group at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). This research focussed on the AdS/CFT correspondence, specifically on holography from symmetric product orbifold CFT's. Her research for the DBHC is conducted in the string theory group at the UvA as well. Aside from physics, her passions include dancing and modern kung fu.

Koen Lotze (PhD)

Koen is doing his PhD in the Energy, Materials and Systems group at the University of Twente. He is working on the cryogenic design of a mirror coating characterisation setup.

Jasper Maars (PhD)

Hi, I am Jasper Maars. I studied geology at Utrecht University. Now, I am working with DBHC at the TU Delft and TNO to identify the geology of Southern Limburg and surroundings. In the coming years I will be making a geologic model to prepare for the Einstein Telescope. 

Wanga Mulaudzi (PhD)

Wanga Mulaudzi is from Johannesburg, South Africa,  and started her career in Astronomy at the University of Cape Town by completing her undergraduate degree with Astrophysics and Physics as her majors. She then pursued a Masters degree working with the MeerKAT International GHz Tiered Extragalactic Exploration (MIGHTEE) Survey data. The focus of the project was to use modelled rotational velocities of galaxies to test the Standard Cosmological Model. She is now a PhD candidate at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy working with Prof. Sera Markoff, and funded by the DBHC, she will be improving the methods used to interpret EHT images and associated multiwavelength data.

Daniëlle Pieterse (PhD)

Daniëlle specializes in optical astronomy. Since 2018, she has been a part of the team behind the MeerLICHT & BlackGEM telescopes. Her MSc research concerned the characterization of MeerLICHT. After graduating, she conducted a feasibility study for ESA on the use of BlackGEM (and other Dutch telescopes) for asteroid discovery and characterization. At present she is doing her PhD at the Radboud University. Her research focuses on the discovery of electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave events with BlackGEM. In her spare time, she likes to go running and plays board games with friends.

Enrico Porcelli (PhD)

When I was a child, I used to look for something invisible in the empty spaces between stars in the night sky. Twenty years later “I have discovered” the Gravitational Waves! I have obtained my and in Physics at the University of “Roma Tor Vergata”, focusing my studies on Astrophysics and Cosmology. I specialized my in hardware R&D for Gravitational Waves detection. Namely, I have been working on an improvement strategy for the Virgo Thermal Compensation System (TCS). I will be soon a PhD student at Nikhef working on a cryogenic suspension system for ET-Pathfinder, which is a scaled down version of the Einstein Telescope, the next-gen Interferometer for gravitational waves observation. In my free time, I play guitar and study Kung Fu. 

Emilie Skulberg (PD)

Emilie is a historian of science. She recently finished her PhD at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge. Specializing in the history of visual representations of black holes, she works from the Institute of Physics at the University of Amsterdam as a postdoctoral researcher funded by the DBHC. She is also a scholar in residence at Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in Leiden. 

Aristomenis Ilias Yfantis  (PhD)

Aris was born in 1997 in Greece, and now works for the DBHC at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. Within the project he tries to estimate black hole parameters using available data. Also Aris is experienced in modeling accretion disks using GRMHD, calculation of radiation from accretion disks and alternative theories of gravity. Aside from his interest in black holes he plays chess, loves music and travels around the globe.

Xisco Jimenes Forteza

I am a postdoctoral physicist working in gravitational waves (GW) science with a strong expertise black hole (BH) physics, gravitational wave astrophysics and data analysis. My main research line concerns the numerical and theoretical modeling of BHs, GW waveform models and the development of statistical techniques used by the network of current and future planned GW interferometers. The upcoming detections and promising detector upgrades will demand the highest possible accuracy and generalization of our models to disentangle some the most exciting predictions of Einstein theory of gravity so let the show go on!

Advisory board

Annelore Scholten 

Annelore Scholten is an experienced Manager and Head of Education and Exhibitions at Rijksmuseum Boerhaave. She is skilled in Fundraising, in Strategy of Nonprofit Organizations, Cultural Scientific Heritage and Art. She studied Art history, Modern art / Dutch modern sculpture at Universiteit Leiden and French Literature at the University of Utrecht.

Andrew Strominger

Andrew Strominger is an American theoretical physicist who is the director of Harvard's Center for the Fundamental Laws of Nature. He has made significant contributions to quantum gravity and string theory. These include his work on Calabi–Yau compactification and topology change in string theory, and on the stringy origin of black hole entropy. He is a senior fellow at the Society of Fellows, and is the Gwill E. York Professor of Physics.

Ralph Weijers

Ralph Wijers is professor of high-energy astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam. He specializes in energetic explosions from extreme objects such as black holes and neutron stars. He is a member of multiple national and international scientific governing and advisory councils and editor of two journals: Monthly Notices and New Astronomy Reviews. Since 2011, he is also director of the Anton Pannekoek Instituut (API).

Wim Walk

Wim Walk has a PhD in physics from Stanford University & Radboud University Nijmegen, did a Post-doc Fellow at CERN (Geneva), and obtained an International Business Management degree at IMD (Lausanne). He worked at Royal Dutch Shell (The Hague, New Orleans, Houston and Amsterdam) in Subsurface Research and Technology. Since June 2022 he is the Technology Manager for the Einstein Telescope and a member of the Einstein Telescope Executive Board (Amsterdam and Maastricht).

Eric Castenmiller

Eric is a Policy Officer for Cluster Nature & Water at the Province of Limburg.