Logo Utrecht University

CfH Lectures


Bert van der Zwaan Website

Bert van der Zwaan is Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University since 2011. Since the start of his academic career in 1982, and following the successful completion of his PhD thesis, Bert van der Zwaan has been working at Utrecht and Nijmegen universities in the Netherlands, and has held many positions outside of the academia. Being trained as a paleontologist, his main research interest involved (paleo)ecology, although already early in his career he participated in many interdisciplinary programs. This led to building an interdisciplinary research group exploring the (at that time) rather unknown area between Biology and Geology. Nowadays, Biogeology is a vibrant field of research where substantial and exciting scientific progress has been made through collaboration between many disciplines. The research of Bert van der Zwaan and his group – composed of geologists (paleontologists and geochemists), microbiologists, ecologists, (paleo)climatologists and modelers – focused on the development of the modern global climate system and co-evolving ecosystems over the past 60 million years. The success of this and other research groups, recognized by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, led to the foundation of the Darwin Center for Biogeology of which Bert van der Zwaan became the first scientific director. Bert van der Zwaan has led a substantial number of large scientific programs, has been amongst others lead-writer and quartermaster for the government funded (100 million euro) program Knowledge for Climate, coordinator of the Earth and Sustainability program of Utrecht University and partners in which 1200 scientists participate, chair of the Utrecht Center of Geosciences, and lately coordinator and interim-CEO of the EU/EIT Climate-Knowledge and Innovation Community. In the latter program he has been leading a network of five of Europe’s best universities (Utrecht University, Imperial College, ETH, Paris Tech and Berlin/Postdam PIK). The aim of the program is to generate innovation by bringing research-teaching-business together. Through this work he became very interested in the (regional) impact of universities on innovation. After becoming dean of the Faculty of Geosciences in 2006, he has left the chair of Biogeology at Utrecht University since 1 September 2008 and became completely involved in science management.