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NWO Vening Meinesz Prize for earth scientist Anouk Beniest

8 September 2022
Earth scientist Anouk Beniest of VU Amsterdam has won the Vening Meinesz Prize for her research and her activities to bring about more diversity, transparency and equality in the scientific world. The prize is awarded every two years by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) to young talents in the Dutch earth sciences.

The prize was awarded on 5 September 2022 during NAC 2022 (Nederlands Aardwetenschappelijk Congres). She is considered as a rising star in the field of marine geology and tectonics.

Research into the earth’s crust
Beniest's research focuses on plate tectonics. She regularly goes to sea to carry out geophysical and geological research into the earth’s crust. Her special interest is in back-arc basins: geological basins on the ocean floor where one tectonic plate ‘subducts’ under another, and which are areas with a high risk of earthquakes and undersea ground shifts. Her skills in the three fundamental pillars of geoscience – geology, geodynamics and geophysics – form the ideal starting point from which to lead multidisciplinary projects in the earth sciences.

Contribution to the academic world
For many years Beniest has also worked to create an inclusive, accessible, and gender-equal academic environment at the university level, both nationally and internationally. She organized, for instance, an debate on bullying in the academic world during the European Geosciences Union.

Beniest: “I am very honoured to have received this prize for my work on extensional tectonic systems and for the initiatives to which I contribute that advocate for an inclusive and accessible academic environment. I find it fantastic that this part - my contribution to diversity initiatives - is mentioned explicitly, because I really believe that we can accomplish more in science with a diverse group of people.” 

Innovative asset
Candidates for the Vening Meinesz Prize are assessed for their scientific research drive, independence, output, impact on the research community, creativity in research practice, and on the expectations for their future career. The selection committee was impressed by Anouk’s international career, describing her as ambitious, fearless, idealistic, and is according to NWO an innovative asset to the Dutch earth sciences because of her multidisciplinary working methods. She is the second woman to receive this prize, which has been awarded since 1965.