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Two Radboud University astronomers received prestigious awards

Date of news: 7 July 2023

This week two astronomers from Radboud University were awarded prestigious prizes. On 6 July Katie Mulrey received the Langerhuizen Bate from the Royal Holland Scientific Society for her work on detecting cosmic rays with LOFAR 2.0. Maaike Pierik was awarded a grant from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds on 5 July to do field work in Namibia as part of her PhD studies. Both awards come with a cash prize to be used towards the laureate’s research.

Katie Mulrey is assistant professor and leads research into cosmic rays through their detection in low-frequency radio waves with the Dutch LOFAR telescope. Cosmic rays consist of very high energy elementary particles and atomic nuclei that are accelerated in astrophysical sources to near the speed of light. Cosmic rays give astronomers and physicists a unique opportunity to study the physics and composition of particles at these energies, as well as to trace where and how these particles in the universe acquire their acceleration. Mulrey: “We have some ideas about where they come from, it’s just not very certain. We want to understand the processes in the universe that can produce such extreme conditions that you can make particles like this.”

With the fund Langerhuizen Bate Mulrey will be able to upgrade LOFAR 2.0 and increase the number of snapshots taken of cosmic ray bursts. This provides more data and ultimately more insight into where and how these rays acquire their acceleration.

Maaike Pierik started her PhD research on Namibian perspectives on the Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT) in order to answer the question how astronomers ultimately manage their societal responsibility. Pierik started working for the AMT project during her Master internship, where she researched the position of Namibian students within the AMT’s mobile planetarium educational project. Her PhD studies is a continuation on this topic. The grant from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds is supported by the Ammerlaan-Beuken fund and will be used by Pierik to do fieldwork in Namibia, collecting data on what Namibians think about the AMT, the project and how astronomy can support STEM education in Namibia.


Dr. Katie Mulrey                                                  Maaike Pierik

More information

Langerhuizen Bate of the Royal Holland Scientific Society

LOFAR telescope

Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds

Africa Millimetre Telescope


Katie Mulrey - Email k.mulrey@astro.ru.nl - Tel 024-3653661

Maaike Pierik - Email maaike.pierik@ru.nl