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Top researchers Law

Faculty of Law employs many researchers who are among the best in their respective fields, at both national and international level.

This hall of fame lists the top researchers who received prestigious awards, grants, prizes and honorary appointments for their scientific achievements during their time at the faculty.

Top researchers

  • ERC Grants

    ERC Starting Grant

    • Annelies Vredeveldt - 2018
      Annelies Vredeveldt has obtained a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for research on eyewitness memory in cross-cultural contexts. She and her research team will investigate this question in different contexts, from South African police interviews to Rwandan genocide cases to eyewitness experiments with asylum seekers.

    ERC Consolidator Grant

    • Betty de Hart - 2017
      Betty de Hart is the recipient of a 2017 ERC Consolidator Grant to establish an independent research team and research program for her research project EUROMIX: Regulating Mixed Intimacies in Europe. The project answers the question of whether, how and why ‘mixed’ relationships are regulated in Europe, how ‘mixed’ couples respond to regulation and the role that law and lawyers play in the way in which thinking about “race” has developed in Europe.
  • KNAW Academy members

    Members of the KNAW are chosen on the basis of their academic achievements. They are appointed for life. Every year, the KNAW selects new members who have been nominated by people from outside the Academy. Below is a list of all KNAW members from the Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

    Catrien Bijleveld, Professor

    Arend Soeteman, Professor Emeritus

    Thomas Spijkerboer, Professor

    Ben Vermeulen, Professor

    The Young Academy

    In March 2018, Barbora Holá was officially installed as a new member to The Young Academy, a dynamic and innovative group of top young scientists and scholars. The Young Academy operates independently within the KNAW. Members are appointed for a five-year period. Barbora Holá has an interdisciplinary focus and studies transitional justice after atrocities, in particular (international) criminal trials, sentencing of international crimes, rehabilitation of war criminals and life after trial at international criminal tribunals.

  • NWO Innovational Research Incentives Scheme laureates: Veni

    This grant enables talented researchers who have recently gained their PhD to expand innovative ideas.


    Marleen Weulen Kranenbarg


    Evelien Hoeben 


    Lieneke Slingenberg

    Karin de Vries investigates the role of nationality in non-discrimination law.


    Anja Eleveld investigates labour law protection for recipients of social assistance, who are obliged to do unpaid work.


    Vere van Koppen investigates the correlates of adult-onset offending.


    Barbara Holá compares the sentencing of international crimes by international and national courts.


    Ester Herlin-Karnell investigates the function of the EU principle of proportionality as a balancing mechanism for ensuring good governance within the European (multi-speed) area of freedom, security and justice


    Peter Kamminga empirically studies the relationship between the kinds of legal contracts used and the efficiency of infrastructure development.


    Wouter Veraart's research is centered around the question how law should respond to historic injustice.


    Alette Smeulers was conducting empirical research into perpetrators of international crimes such as genocide and war crimes, and how they might be held to account.


    Elies van Sliedregt's research interest lies in the field of international, European and comparative criminal law.


    Elisabetta Manunza

    About NWO Innovational Research Incentives Scheme laureates

    Innovative research produces valuable results: it may open up new areas of research or put an unexpected perspective on existing fields. The aim of the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme is to give an extra boost to innovative research through three categories of grants: Veni, Vidi and Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered). The terms refer to how far the researcher has progressed in his/her research career.

  • NWO Innovational Research Incentives Scheme laureates: Vidi

    Researchers who are eligible for this grant are more experienced. They are given the opportunity to set up an innovative line of research and appoint other researchers to that end.


    Barbara Holá


    Elies van Sliedregt aims to undertake systematic and comparative research into international criminal law as applied by national courts, into whether, and to what extent, national courts adopt and should adopt international standards and liability theories.

    Gareth Davies examines the interaction between international trade, the environment and human rights, and national sovereignty.

    About NWO Innovational Research Incentives Scheme laureates

    Innovative research produces valuable results: it may open up new areas of research or put an unexpected perspective on existing fields. The aim of the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme is to give an extra boost to innovative research through three categories of grants: Veni, Vidi and Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered). The terms refer to how far the researcher has progressed in his/her research career.

  • NWO Innovational Research Incentives Scheme laureates: Vici

    Any researcher seeking the honour of a Vici grant will have an outstanding record of service and have demonstrated the ability to develop innovative lines of research. The Vici grant gives established researchers the chance to build up an innovative research group.


    Thomas Spijkerboer research is about the relation between migration law and the rising number of border deaths.


    Sarah van Walsum conducted research on migration and asylum law through the lens of (cross-border) family relations and family norms

  • NWO Research Talent laureates


    Fabienne Thijs 


    Meintje van Dijk


    Lily Rueda Guzman conducts research into sanctions under the ICC's Principle of Complementarity, focussing on Colombia as a case study.


    Anne Smit takes part in a multidisciplinary (family law-criminology) research project that will generate evidence-based recommendations for handling divorce cases based on empirical findings on child sexual abuse allegations, and the implications of legal interventions. 

    Linda Kesteloo studies legal safeguards for reliable witness evidence, partially from a comparative perspective. This research aims at providing a conceptual framework for both criminal lawyers and (legal) psychologists, making it a multidisciplinary project that contributes to the debate between the two disciplines.


    Elanie Rodermond studies the process of desistance among female offenders and aims to explain why and how women stop committing crimes.

    Martijn Stronks investigates the role of time in contemporary migration law. One of the central questions is why migrants usually can receive stronger residence rights only after progress of time.


    Johan Wolswinkel was searching for so-called ‘general rules of allocation law’ applying to any award of a limited number of rights by public authorities (authorisations, financial grants, etc.). In this research, results from economic resource allocation theory bridged the gap between these general allocation rules and general principles of law.

  • NWO Mosaic laureates


    Songül Mutluer is researching the possibilities for increasing return in cases of government tendering.

    Bahija Aarrass is researching the influences of human rights on the law relating to aliens. This is because universal human rights also include provisions relating to the just treatment of refugees.

  • University Research Chair

    ‘The need for a shared sense of justice in the EU’
    We cannot avoid it any longer. With the crisis in Greece and with Italy left isolated as African refugees flood the country, does the EU have a shared responsibility or not? And if so, can it be incorporated in an integrated system of justice? And how can the EU achieve a common sense of fairness in its development of criminal law? Lawyer Ester Herlin-Karnell is conducting research into this area on which the very future of the union depends.

    “She is one of those talented young people you encounter and immediately think: she is destined to be a professor”, says Dean of Law Elies van Sliedregt. “She has a background in both criminal law and European law, which is an unusual combination. Many criminal lawyers do not fully understand the importance of European law and are put off by the dry nature of the subject matter.”

    Ester Herlin Karnell is not one of those lawyers. She is fascinated by the question of whether law can become integrated or whether it is inextricably bound to individual nation states. “The European Union is experiencing both a financial and constitutional crisis. We allow people to move freely across the borders of the member states to create the life they want, but at the same time we do not. The other member states are refusing to take responsibility for refugees entering Greece, Italy and Spain even though this is actually a European problem. In this case, there is no common aim: national interests take precedence. The result is a negative spiral: no one is helping those countries, which is making them wonder what the point of the EU is for them and become less cooperative in other areas at the same time as it is a severe economic crisis. This is why it is important for me to investigate whether there is actually a shared notion of justice among the 28 EU members and whether we can achieve a shared legal concept based on it.”

    > Read full interview with Ester Herlin-Karnell.

    University Reseach Chair
    VU University Research Chair (URC) is a selective and privileged appointment as full professor. The chair has been created to recognize and reward outstanding scholars currently at the rank equivalent to associate professor who are acknowledged by their peers as upcoming leaders in their research field.

  • Fenna Diemer-Lindeboom chair

    Lieke Coenraad is appointed as full professor in Civil Law - Conflict handling - in 2011, on Fenna Diemer-Lindeboom chair. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has launched the Fenna Diemer-Lindeboom (FDL) chair programme in order to promote female scientific talent on its way to the top and to address the lack of female professors. Female assistant and associate professors are proposed for the FDL chair by the faculties and are appointed for a maximum period of 5 years. The FDL professor will then be offered a full professorship if she has performed successfully. All FDL-candidates of the first period 2005-2010 have been installed as professor during or after the FDL-professorship.

    (1913-2004) studied Law at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and obtained a PhD in 1937. During WWII she defended people who were arrested for their resistance work, together with her husband. Fenna Diemer-Lindeboom studied the bible on the position of women in society and published several books about the relation between men and women. Mostly she is known for her fight for passive women voting rights in her party, the Anti-Revolutionaire Partij (ARP).

  • Honorary doctorates

    VU Amsterdam awards honorary doctorates each year to those who made outstanding contributions in the field of science, politics or culture. In 2007 the book 'Het is ons een eer en een genoegen' of Wim Berkelaar was published. The book provides an overview of the honory doctorates awarded between 1930 and 2007 and an extensive background report. Below is a list of all recipients of honorary doctorates awarded by the Faculty of Law.


    Fons Orie


    Michael Tonry


    Adriaan Bos

  • Societal Impact Award

    The Societal Impact Awards spotlight research being carried out at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam that has an impact on society. The Junior Societal Impact Award is for a PhD candidate who has completed a PhD dissertation at VU University Amsterdam within the last year which could have a potentially significant impact on society. The Senior Societal Impact Award is presented to a researcher at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam who has had a longer career and spent several years working on research with a significant societal impact. The awards are presented by the Rector at the annual Dies Natalis celebration.

    Victor van der Geest received Junior Societal Impact Award in 2011. Victor graduated with the highest distinction on his dissertation ‘Working their Way into Adulthood’. He investigated a group of 270 (male) juveniles, their family backgrounds, problems and criminal and work career after their treatment in juvenile treatment facilities. His research has a considerable societal impact as it demonstrates that working has a positive influence on young men with a criminal past.