UvA astronomer Lex Kaper has won the 2019 Descartes-Huygens Prize for his research and his contribution to Franco-Dutch collaboration. The award ceremony will take place on 5 February 2020 at the residence of the Dutch ambassador in Paris. The €23,000 prize will make it possible for him to continue his research collaboration.
Kaper is a professor of Observational Astrophysics and Instrument Development Astronomy at the UvA. He studies the formation, evolution and fate of massive stars. He also develops astronomical instruments. For example, he is one of the inventors of X-SHOOTER, the world’s most sensitive spectrograph (an instrument that disperses light into different wavelengths – i.e. colours – in the form of a spectrum). Kaper is currently involved in the development of MOSAIC, a multi-object spectrograph that will be located at the Extremely Large Telescope currently under construction in Chile.
Kaper works closely with the Meudon Observatory in Paris. Their collaboration has resulted in a number of important scientific publications, as well as the MOSAIC project. They are in the process of setting up a European training and exchange network for students and postdocs, and the Descartes-Huygens Prize will support Kaper’s contribution to these projects.
The annual Descartes-Huygens Prize was established by the French and Dutch governments in 1995 to recognise researchers for their outstanding work and their contribution to Franco-Dutch relations. The Netherlands selects the French winner and France selects the Dutch winner. The French winner this year is cardiovascular researcher Julien Barc.