IMM best thesis award
IMM best thesis award

IMM Best Thesis Awards 2023 for Kirill Grishunin, Pieter Gilissen and Rianne van Outersterp

Pieter Gilissen, Kirill Grishunin and Rianne van Outersterp, who have finished their PhD theses within the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) of Radboud University, have each been awarded the IMM Best Thesis Award 2023.

IMM yearly grants this prize to 1-3 PhD candidates in recognition of their excellent work performed by PhD students. The jury called the three theses of outstandingly high quality and they clearly stand out.

Pieter Gilissen
Pieter Gilissen was PhD candidate in the Molecular Nanotechnology Group within IMM. Gilissen defended his thesis entitled ‘Molecular Motor-Functionalized Porphyrin Cages and Related Compounds’, under supervision of promotor Prof. Roeland Nolte and co-promotor dr. Hans Elemans. In his studies, Gilissen describes a number of impressive steps to arrive at molecules that can write information on polymers. The ultimate target in this concept is a molecule that moves along a polymer, and, via a photo switchable catalyst, “writes” the “0” and “1” bits as chemical modifications on a linear polymer chain. Impressively, his thesis resulted in a cum laude promotion.

According to the jury, Gilissen’s thesis was of exceptional quality, resulting in publications in prestigious journals such as Nature Communications (2 papers) and Nature Synthesis (2 papers). The thesis was highly praised for its outstanding structure and clarity, making it easily understandable for individuals outside the field of expertise. The final Perspective Chapter provided a clear roadmap towards strategies in achieving molecular information storage on polymers.

Kirill Grishunin
Kirill Grishunin was PhD candidate in the Ultrafast Spectroscopy of Correlated Materials within IMM. Grishunin defended his thesis ‘THz-control of antiferromagnetic spins’, under supervision of promotor Prof. Alexey Kimel. In his thesis, Grishunin demonstrates experimentally as well as theoretically new methods for the generation and manipulation of spin-waves in the THz frequency domain. His work advances the understanding of spin-switching mechanisms with THz radiation and explores both the linear and nonlinear interaction of THz radiation with antiferromagnets. This opens up new important routes for the development of THz magnonics.

The jury was very impressed by Grishunin's thesis. They liked how it covered a wide range of topics, especially the creation of a double pump THz spectroscopy setup. The experimental results were excellent, showing a new way to control the transfer of energy from magnons to phonons really quickly. Grishunin also used theoretical models. Because of this, Grishunin received a cum laude distinction for the thesis and published many top-notch articles in well-respected journals like Physical Review Letters and Science.

Rianne van Outersterp
Rianne van Outersterp was PhD candidate in the Molecular Structure and Dynamics group within IMM. Outersterp defended her thesis ‘Metabolite identification using infrared ion spectroscopy’ Cum Laude on 25 January 2023, under supervision of promotor Prof. Jos Oomens and co-promotor dr. J. Martens, dr. G. Berden and dr. F. Cuyckens (Janssen R&D). In her studies, Outersterp investigated how infrared ion spectroscopy (IRIS) can be used to discern information on the types of chemical bonds in a molecule. Outersterp used IRIS to identify novel biomarkers related to inborn errors of metabolism, focusing on inborn errors of amino acid metabolism and pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy and shows a novel approach for oligosaccharide identification using long-wavelength IRIS.

The jury found the thesis clearly written, easily understandable for individuals outside the field, and impressively structured with three distinct parts, each comprising three chapters. It has led to six published first-author papers and three more under review, showcasing significant scientific impact in unveiling drug metabolite structures and identifying novel biomarkers for inborn errors of metabolism.

The IMM Best Thesis Awards have been presented to the winners at the IMM New Year’s reception on Thursday January 11th, 2024.  

We warmly congratulate Pieter, Kirill and Rianne with their prize. 

IMM best thesis award

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