The Spinoza Prize can be seen as a lifetime achievement award for world-class scientists at the forefront of their field. Hilhorst, who works at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, received a bronze statuette of Baruch Spinoza and 2.5 million euro. Hilhorst can spend these funds at her own discretion, provided the expenditure is related to academic research. In an interview with EM, Hilhorst said she intends to use the money to create a ‘flywheel effect’ that will strengthen her Humanitarian Studies field of research.


According to the Spinoza Committee, Hilhorst deserves the prize because she is regarded as ‘one of the founders of the relatively new discipline of Humanitarian Studies’. The award ceremony laudation noted that “Her work is extremely relevant for many of the challenges we face today, such as global migration, climate change, and pandemics”. The committee also praised her social commitment demonstrated by editorials she has written and media appearances in which she provided her insight on issues.

The Spinoza Prize is awarded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Instituted in 1995, 3 or 4 scholars are awarded the prize annually. This year, in addition to Hilhorst, the other winners are Corné Pieterse (Plant-microbe Interactions, Utrecht University), Ignas Snellen (Observational Astrophysics, Leiden University), and Klaas Landsman (Mathematical Physics, Radboud University Nijmegen).

In 1995, Frank Grosveld (Erasmus MC) was the first EUR-affiliated winner. In 1998, Jan Hoeijmakers (also Erasmus MC) was the last ‘Rotterdammer’ – until today – to win the prize. Eveline Crone, professor of Developmental Neuroscience in Society, is also a Spinoza laureate. She won the award when she was a professor at Leiden University.


Read the interview with Thea Hilhorst

‘A fantastic recognition for my field of Humanitarian Studies’

For the first time since 1998, a scientist from the EUR has won the Spinoza Prize, the…