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What do Nataša Rakić, Han van der Maas, Calluna Euving, Nataša Brouwer-Zupančič, Frans Oort and Arne Janssen have in common? All six have been awarded UvA Honorary Medallions for their special services to the university. Rector Magnificus Peter-Paul Verbeek presented the medallions on Friday, 14 June, during the annual Medallion Day.
F.l.t.r. Peter-Paul Verbeek, Calluna Euving, Han van der Maas, Nataša Rakić, Jan Lintsen, Nataša Brouwer-Zupančič, Arne Janssen, Edith Hooge and Frans Oort (photo: Sophie Reijnen)
F.l.t.r. Peter-Paul Verbeek, Calluna Euving, Han van der Maas, Nataša Rakić, Jan Lintsen, Nataša Brouwer-Zupančič, Arne Janssen, Edith Hooge and Frans Oort (photos: Sophie Reijnen)

‘All six laureates are people who have worked tirelessly and with great passion for the UvA,’ says Verbeek. 'Their initiatives, ideas and solutions have had an enormous impact and have brought a lot to the UvA as an organisation. They have committed themselves to education and research, but also, for example, to valorisation and business operations. The Honorary Medallions they have been awarded show our great appreciation for their work.'

The laureates

Nataša Rakić, information manager with the Executive Staff’s Education Logistics and Operations Management department
Nataša Rakić is a passionate advocate for the field of Education Logistics and has been of great significance for both education logistics and operations management at the UvA. She played a key role in the setting of the SAP Expertise Centre. She and her colleagues managed to bring together technical, application and functional management, and thus services from the Administrative Centre (AC) and ICT Services (ICTS). The result is a new form of collaboration in which end users - students and employees - take centre stage. Rakić ​​then worked on the creation of the so-called DevOps teams, with which the UvA now develops its own software to support students and employees. With her enormous decisiveness and original ideas, she has played an indispensable role in making the UvA more agile and stable in the use of digitalisation in education logistics.

Han van der Maas, professor of Psychological Methods in the department of Psychology at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
With his unprecedented enthusiasm, Han van der Maas has been of great importance to scientific research and education both within and outside his field. He initiated a true paradigm shift within psychology and other social sciences by translating complexity theory, which was already known in the natural sciences, to the social sciences. Van der Maas also played an important role in the establishment and development of the UvA’s Institute of Advanced Study (IAS), which focuses on complexity research. In addition, he was one of the founders of the Research Master's in Psychology, which developed into an internationally acclaimed programme under his leadership. Van der Maas was also the founder of, an educational spin-off that develops adaptive practice systems for mathematics and language. Hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren have used the system and benefited from Voegweb. The activities with which Van der Maas has distinguished himself are all of great importance to the UvA.

Calluna Euving, former Secretary General of the UvA
With her unwavering commitment and strategic point of view, Calluna Euving played a pioneering role and had a major impact at the UvA. Her approach was essential when the UvA was confronted with a number of very difficult situations. During the corona crisis, Euving did everything she could to keep the organisation together. She managed to take the crisis organisation within the UvA to a higher level, allowing the university to hold its own during the pandemic. When the network structure of the UvA and the HvA was targeted in a large-scale cyber-attack, the value of the structures improved by Euving became apparent once more: the attack could be averted with technical and organisational subteams. Euving also played an important role in cases involving undesirable behaviour, including as a permanent sounding board for the dean or director involved, and through ensuring good support within the organisation.

Nataša Brouwer-Zupančič, former skills teacher and TLC project manager at the Faculty of Science
Nataša Brouwer-Zupančič has devoted herself heart and soul to education, in particular to teacher professionalisation and educational innovation. In doing so, she has had a great influence on the quality of education at the UvA. Brouwer-Zupančič was the driving force behind the setting up and continuation of the university teaching qualification (UTQ) and senior teaching qualification (STQ) programmes at her faculty. She has been tireless in her support of teachers. She has taken on numerous tasks, including outside her faculty: UTQ trainer, head of the examination office, project leader or partner in national and international educational innovation projects, member of the ICTO programme council and member of SURF's Special Interest Group Blended Learning, among others. As an educational innovator and networker, she has been invaluable to the Faculty of Science and to the UvA as a whole.

Frans Oort, professor of Methods and Statistics Methoden in the department of Child Development and Education at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Frans Oort has played a major role in shaping both the UvA's Open Science policy and national developments in that area. His efforts are reflected in the fact that the UvA is a pioneer in research data management. Oort has also made an important contribution to another pillar of Open Science – openness to society and collaboration with social organisations and citizens – by dedicating himself to the Werkplaatsen Onderwijsonderzoek initiative. In addition to his position as Open Science Coordinator and all his administrative tasks at department level, Oort has fulfilled many other tasks for the UvA. For example, he was chairperson of the University Research Committee and of a UvA-wide working group on scientific integrity. It is largely thanks to Oort's boundless energy and commitment that the UvA has made significant strides in the field of research data management, ethical assessment and other areas of scientific integrity.

Arne Janssen, associate professor at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics at the Faculty of Science
Arne Janssen is a pioneer in the field of sustainable crop protection and the translation of fundamental research into practice. The impact of his work is wide-ranging: at the UvA, in the Netherlands and worldwide. Janssen developed fundamental ecological knowledge regarding the natural control of pests in agriculture, and immediately put this knowledge into practice. Due to his tireless efforts, the predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii has been used worldwide for years to combat common pest insects such as thrips and whiteflies and to protect agricultural crops. Through his close collaboration with various stakeholders, the Netherlands - with an important role for the UvA -  was able to grow into a leading international player in the development and marketing of natural pest control. Janssen has also been very active in helping to train young researchers from countries in Africa and South America to improve pest control in their native lands and reduce the use of (illegal) pesticides.