Petra de Jongh wins Gilles Holst Medal

Hoogleraar Petra de Jongh
Hoogleraar Petra de Jongh

Petra de Jongh , Professor of Catalysis and Energy Materials at Utrecht University, receives the Gilles Holst Medal 2023. The jury praises her interdisciplinary approach, her tireless quest for knowledge, and the industrial applications that emerge from her research on nanomaterials. These include practical, circular solutions for a sustainable energy transition and the development of a new generation of batteries. Petra de Jongh is the first woman to receive this medal.


De Jongh’s expertise spans many areas. She conducts fundamental research on nanomaterials that can be used as catalysts, or for storing and converting renewable energy. Her research mainly focuses on the role of catalysts - substances that accelerate chemical reactions - in enabling efficient chemical conversions. These types of catalysts are crucial for producing renewable fuels and chemical building blocks. This involves replacing fossil raw materials such as oil or gas with circular raw materials, such as green hydrogen combined with carbon from waste, biomass, or carbon dioxide.

Towards a sustainable energy transition

Using advanced methods, De Jongh investigates the relationship between the structure and effectiveness of catalysts. Her research, in collaboration with relevant companies, paves the way for new processes, such as, for example, sustainable methanol, hydrocarbon or ammonia synthesis, the key processes on the road to the circular economy. Moreover, De Jongh and her team are at the forefront of the development of a new generation of batteries that will be safer, less heavy, and more efficient. Such advances are critical to a sustainable energy transition.

About Petra de Jongh

Petra de Jongh is a Professor within the Materials Chemistry and Catalysis research group at the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science. She first became internationally known for her research on sustainable hydrogen.

About the Gilles Holst Medal

The Gilles Holst Medal was established in 1960 by the KNAW in honor of physicist and Academy member Gilles Holst (1886-1968). The award recognizes a "researcher working in the Kingdom of the Netherlands with great merits in the field of application-oriented physics or chemistry, preferably in the border area between the two sciences. The Gilles Holst Medal is awarded once every four years.