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Examples \ Science & People \ Ladies@Space (Conny Aerts)

An initiative of Kavli Prize Laureate Conny Aerts

Conny Aerts, top scientist with a mission

Conny Aerts.jpg

Conny Aerts is an astronomy professor at KU Leuven with a very impressive academic record. Here are few highlights:

  • 2012: Francqui Prize: she received this prize out of the hands of King Albert. This award is considered the most important Belgian science award.

  • 2020: FWO Excellence Prize, which is sometimes referred to as the "Flemish Nobel Prize".

  • 2022: Kavli Prize: together with two American astronomers, she wins the Kavli Prize for Astrophysics. This is the world's most distinguished scientific award after the Nobel Prize.


In addition to her scientific research, Conny Aerts also advocates for women in science. Women are still often underrepresented.


Also in the space industry. On 25 March 2022, she organised Ladies@Science, an event at the city library of Leuven where 120 young ladies aged 17-18 met 15 leading ladies from the space industry.

To create more momentum around this topic, we produced a series of three videos:

A 30" video targeting young ladies with the message: Are you interested in space? Choose a space study! (Produced in 2 formats: in landscape format and in portrait format, making it suitable for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, among others)

A 66" video targeting policy makers and managers in the aerospace industry with the message: Hire more women. (Diversity makes your company much stronger)

A 3-minute video in which Conny Aerts explains her mission:

  • The space sector needs more talent

  • There is still a lot of talent among girls and young ladies.

Kavli Prize

220906 Conny Aerts receive the Kavli Prize - photo Thomas Barstad Eckhoff.jpeg

© photo: Thomas Barstad Eckhoff

A few words about the Kavli Prize. After the Nobel Prize, this is the most important science prize in the world. It exists since 2008 and is awarded every two years. There are three categories:

  • Astrophysics (the very largest),

  • Nanosciences (the very smallest) and

  • Neuroscience (the most complex)

On Tuesday 6 September 2022 Conny Aerts received the prize from King Harald V. This was during the Kavli Prize Week, a week where top science is celebrated with lectures and meetings.

Ewine van Dishoeck

In 2018, the Dutch professor Ewine van Dishoeck was laureate. She is Professor of Astronomy at Leiden University. I mention her here because I also had the opportunity to interview her.

In June 2021 she was one of the big names at the Ecsite Conference. This conference had to take place online because of Covid. Normally, around 300 people attend this conference. For the online version, the organisers aimed for 1,200 participants.

Ecsite achieved this goal by focusing on video, among other things. In one of the trailers, Ewine van Dishoeck plays the lead role. A Zoom connection was made for the realisation of the video. This allowed us to interview her.

In the summary video report there is of course also a nice mention of her lecture. (See from 0 m 40 s)

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