Each year the editors of women’s magazine VIVA select four hundred women noted for their exceptional achievements. Four EUR women are on the current list: teachers Sophie van der Zee and Daphne van de Bongardt and students Emma Clemens and Graciëlla van Hamersveld. They stand a chance of winning one of the awards.

Clever minds

Sophie van der Zee (ESE) and Daphne van de Bongardt (ESSB) are in the ‘Knappe Koppen’ (clever minds) category. They’re in the limelight because of their contributions to science. Van de Bongardt’s research is aimed at understanding and promoting healthy and positive relational and sexual development in young people, while Van der Zee is working on a new method for distinguishing truth from lies.

“I feel honoured to be on the list alongside so many smart, tough, fun women,” says Van der Zee. “Over the years I’ve often been inspired by the women in this list, and now it feels slightly surreal that I’m on it myself,” she notes.

Van der Zee also regards the nomination as an opportunity to show her research to the outside world. She has built an automatic lie detector, which could be used for customs checks, among other things. “There are so many misunderstandings about lie detection. The things you see in TV series like ‘Lie to Me’ aren’t substantiated scientifically, and the truth often looks very different. I think it’s also my job as a researcher to explain to people what’s true and what isn’t.”

Daphne van de Bongardt is assistant professor and researcher at the Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies. With this nomination she wants to contribute to the visibility of the importance of good scientific research into sexuality.

Van de Bongardt: “The research field has long focused on the risks of sexual behavior. It’s time to pay more attention to the sexual perception of youngsters, and to the positive aspects of intimate relationships, for their general well-being among other things. Moreover, we need to look a lot more at the relational context of sex: it’s underexposed, but extremely important.”

In addition, Van de Bongardt is an active bridge builder between scientific research into sexuality and sexological clinical practice, including as a board member at the Dutch Scientific Society for Sexology.

Young and inspiring

Graciëlla van Hamersveld, master’s student of Econometrics at the Erasmus School of Economics, is in the Tech Talents category. Her startup Closure offers help to next of kin dealing with digital legacies: what the deceased has left behind on the internet. Earlier this year Van Hamersveld won the Philips Innovation Award.

Emma Clemens, former UN Youth Representative for Sustainability, has been nominated in the World Improvers category. Particularly over the past year, the economics student has worked to raise awareness of sustainability among the young.

For Clemens, this nomination is a recognition of her efforts. “It’s nice to know that your work doesn’t go unnoticed,” she says. “I want to do so many more things involving sustainability, and I hope this nomination will enable me to reach and inspire more people.”

VIVA will be presenting the VIVA400 awards on 15 November. You can cast your votes on the VIVA400 website until 6 November.