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May 22, 2024, 7:30 - 10:30 PM

Stadsschouwburg Groningen

What do Aletta Henriëtte Jacobs, Wubbo Ockels and Ben Feringa have in common? Their academic career started at the University of Groningen!

The university was founded in 1614 and is not only one of the oldest, but also one of the largest universities in the Netherlands with 37,000 students and approximately 6,000 employees. In 2024, the RUG will have existed for 410 years and under the motto Making connections we will reflect on what more than four centuries of academic research has yielded. From Nobel Prize to neutrino detector.

After the opening of the academic year on September 1, 2023, various events will be organized to celebrate the anniversary. Most events take place in the week of May 21-25 2024 and Festival der Verwondering is one of them. Expect a stage full of music, theater, art and science. In short: an show to celebrate 410 years of the RUG.



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Ben Feringa

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Chemist @ University of Groningen

He won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his 'molecular motor'. With his everlasting enthusiasm, he known how to make abstract subjects attractive.

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Iris Sommer

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Psychiatrist and neuroscientist

@ UMC Groningen

As a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, she tries to make a difference for people with complex brain disorders.

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Amina Helmi

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Professor of Dynamics, Structure and Formation of the Milky Way 

@Kapteyn Institute, RUG

She is one of the founders of so-called galactic archeology and, as an astronomical archaeologist, she searches for remains of old galaxies in order to reconstruct the evolution of our Milky Way.

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Casper Albers

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Director @Heymans Institute for psychological research &

columnist @De Volkskrant

Casper Albers develops statistical models for applications in the social sciences, particularly in the field of depression and other mental disorders. He also investigates how quantitative information is optimally communicated.

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Jenny van Doorn

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Professor of Services Marketing

@ University of Groningen

She is fascinated by social robots in services

such as healthcare and catering. She investigates how robots should be used to optimize services and improve job satisfaction and performance of guarantee the human service provider.

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Charmaine Borg

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@University of Groningen

In her research she focuses on the relationship between default disgust and sexual arousal. In Groningen she established the Sex Research Lab.

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Maeve McKeown

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Political theorist

@University of Groningen

She explores the relationship between power, ordinary people and responsibility for global structural injustice.

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Ming Cao

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Professor of Science & Engineering

@University of Groningen

He is trained as an electrical engineer and applied mathematician. He uses inspiration from the social behavior of animals and people to design and implement 'provably correct' algorithms for robots.

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Casper van der Kooi

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Evolutionary biologist

@University of Groningen

As an evolutionary biologist, he uses physics techniques to understand the colors of flowers and animals.

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Bert Otten

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Professor of NeuroMechanics @ UMCG 

He researches how people move and applies that knowledge in sports and rehabilitation, in addition to his work as an expert for the judiciary. He uses computer simulations, artificial intelligence and image analysis and this also fuels his work as a photographer.

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Cisca Wijmenga

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Professor of Human Genetics

@ University of Groningen

She sees a challenge in exploring DNA: whether that was from large groups of patients, from the Dutch population, or from all the bacteria in our intestines. She was one of the pioneers in the Netherlands in the field of bioinformatics and was already doing team science before it was called that.

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Marie-Jose van Tol

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Professor of Mood & Cognition


She is amazed by the human brain and how it plays a role in mood disturbances such as depression. She is also chairman of The Young Academy.

Van Tol presents the Festival der Verwondering together with Jim Jansen.

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Sean Desjardins

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Anthropological archaeologist

@ University of Groningen

He studies the long-term development of Inuit subsistence hunting and harvesting strategies in the traditional Inuit lands, waters and ice sheets of what is now Canada. 

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Harry Arling

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Artist and musician

He never makes a sketch. The building is all in the moment. That is why making Kosmotroniks from plastic waste remains, for Harry, a great adventure that never ends.


Janneke Jager

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Singer, comedian, wordsmith

Janneke views the world with a brutal eye and tells or sings about it with a shocking perceptiveness and with amusing anecdotes. Disarming, moving, spicy. A Drama Queen with a touch of Groningen common sense.

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Jim Jansen

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Editor-in-chief New Scientist | Presenter

In addition to editor-in-chief of New Scientist, he is a welcome guest in the media. He writes columns and books. He presents the Festival der Verwondering alongside Marie-José van Tol.



Turfsingel 86

9711 VX Groningen

The Stadsschouwburg Groningen, also known as the Grande Dame, is widely considered the most significant theater in Groningen. It attracts national and international artists due to its intimate setting, with the audience being in close proximity to the stage. Following multiple renovations and modifications, the building was officially designated as a national monument in 1994.

A collaboration between:

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The Festival der Verwondering is an event organised by Rijksuniversiteit GroningenFor more information about the event, please contact Alex Sieval ( / 0611380380).

For questions about University of Groningen, please contact Frederika Cazemier (

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