The Physica Prize for 2015 has been awarded to Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology researcher Marileen Dogterom. "She is very deserving of the prize" says the Dutch Physics Society NVV. "Marileen Dogterom is a world-class expert in experimental cell biophysics and is one of the pioneers who has contributed to the excellent reputation throughout the world of single molecule biophysics research in the Netherlands. In the past fifteen years the Netherlands has seen a whole new generation of physicists arise that is active in biophysics and Marileen has acted as a role model for many young scientists in this field." Marileen Dogterom is head of the young Bionanoscience Department, which operates on the interface of nanophysics and cell biology.
Cell division in eukaryotes
Dogterom's research is focused on gaining an understanding of the mechanism that eukaryotic cells (including plant and animal cells) use to organise themselves in order to divide successfully. During cell division the structure of the cell is reorganised and the newly copied chromosomes are neatly divided into two groups, after which two daughter cells are generated. This impressive process is achieved by a collection of protein machines: for example, microtubules align to collect the chromosomes in the division plane and once the division has commenced these tubes use motor proteins to help the chromosomes move aside to the two daughter cells. Building minimal experimental model systems has enabled Marileen's group to make some important contributions to the understanding of the organisational principles of this cytoskeleton. Her long-range goal is to build an artificial cell. This fundamental research is of vital importance to future breakthroughs in the fields of health and nutrition.
The Physica Prize is awarded each year to an outstanding physicist working in the Netherlands. It is presented by the presidents of the Dutch Physics Society (NNV) and the Physica Foundation, after consultation with various representatives of the Dutch physics community. Dogterom will receive the prize during the FYSICA 2015 conference on Friday 10 April at Eindhoven University of Technology. During this conference she will also give the associated Physica lecture.