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What PhD students say

These PhD students started in Delft or Leiden in 2015, 2016 or 2017

  • Koen Bastiaans Koen Bastiaans +
    Koen Bastiaans
    Leiden University (Netherlands)
    Koen Bastiaans

    Koen Bastiaans

    • Born in: The Netherlands
    • MSc.'s degree: Physics, Leiden University (The Netherlands)
    • PhD student at: Quantum Matter Group of Milan Allan, Leiden University
    • Contact: ZhangW[at]physics.leidenuniv[dot]nl

    Leiden is a great place, both for science and living. Being born and raised in Leiden I might be a bit influenced, but after finishing my master’s degree I still had the feeling I wasn’t completely finished here. During my master I joined the group of Milan Allan, a young and dynamic group that likes to dive into some of the big mysteries of condensed matter physics. A great place to stay for my PhD.

    In the Allan lab our goal is to explore and understand new quantum states of electronic matter on the atomic scale. To do so, we use and develop novel spectroscopic-imaging scanning tunneling microscopy (SI-STM) tools to visualize the relevant quantum mechanical degrees of freedom. My project is aimed to create a noise-sensitive STM, where next to the signal we also measure the noise. It may sound controversial, but the noise contains information about the sample we study that is currently inaccessible by conventional STM techniques.

    To achieve constructing these novel tools we need to combine know-how from many different fields of physics. Being part of the Casimir community is therefore extremely beneficial. Casimir enables you to easily connect to researchers within these different fields and the courses/events offered by Casimir extends this horizon even further.

  • Rebecca McKenzie Rebecca McKenzie +
    Rebecca McKenzie
    Univ. of Otago Dunedin (New Zealand)
    Rebecca McKenzie

    Rebecca McKenzie

    • Born in: New Zealand
    • Honours degree: Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago Dunedin (New Zealand)
    • PhD student at: Brouns group, Bionanoscience, TU Delft and Tans group, Biophysics, AMOLF
    • Contact: R.E.McKenzie[at]tudelft[dot]nl

    Experiencing what science and research are like on the other side of the world was always an interest of mine with the aim to both enhance my skills and build my career possibilities. After completing my programme of study in NZ I thought now is the time! Strong existing collaborations between my lab in New Zealand and The Brouns lab led me to explore PhD positions provided by TU Delft. The NanoFront grant appealed to me as it provides a unique position in which the project is shared by two collaborators with different backgrounds to meet the same final goal.

    Now that I am here my project aims to tackle the world wide problem of antibiotic resistance using the CRISPR-Cas bacterial immune system to target and degrade the DNA elements that enable the bacteria to form resistance. Combining both the microbiological background of the Brouns lab and the Biophysics background of the Tans lab on a NanoFront research grant I hope to visualize this defense system at work using time lapse and fluorescence microscopy.

    The Casimir Research School is a great resource for all researchers involved, bringing together scientists from different fields and backgrounds, for both social activities and a number of skill enhancing courses. Casimir becomes a community for all members that enables the formation of a large collaborative network to aid you in both your current and future research goals.

  • Nelli Bossert Nelli Bossert +
    Nelli Bossert
    JMU Würzburg (Germany)
    Nelli Bossert

    Nelli Bossert

    • Nationality: Kazachstanian
    • MSc.'s degree: Biology, JMU Würzburg (Germany)
    • PhD student at: Biophysics and Quantum Optics group, Leiden University
    • Contact: Bossert[at]physics.leidenuniv[dot]nl

    During my Masters I had the possibility to gain experience with “real” biological laboratory work such as cell culture, various analysis techniques and tissue dissection at the Institute of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine in Würzburg (Germany). Although I enjoyed the work a lot, I also enjoyed the theory and practicals of Biophysics Lectures and Fluorescence Microscopy Imaging. Thus, searching for a PhD position, these were the interests that drove me, next to my curiosity to work in a different scientific environment while still performing research on the functionality of cells. Luckily, I found a combination of these preferences at my current PhD position.

    Being a member of the Casimir Research School, I am mostly surrounded by physicists. With my biological background, I find it very interesting to learn about the divergent scientific approaches, thus expanding my own scientific skills. The Casimir Research School gives their PhD members from Leiden and Delft the opportunity to acquire additional knowledge by providing different courses and brings us all together at various events. Thereby supporting us in building a network, which will be valuable for our future career paths.

  • Joeri de Bruijckere Joeri de Bruijckere +
    Joeri de Bruijckere
    TU Delft (Netherlands)
    Joeri de Bruijckere

    Joeri de Bruijckere

    • Born in: The Netherlands
    • MSc.'s degree: Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago Dunedin (New Zealand)
    • PhD student at: Herre van der Zant group, Quantum Nanoscience, TU Delft
    • Contact: J.deBruijckere[at]tudelft[dot]nl

    My name is Joeri de Bruijckere and I am a PhD student at TU Delft, in the group of Herre van der Zant. I did my studies here in Delft and I chose to do the Casimir pre-PhD track within the Applied Physics master, which allowed me to do three exciting research projects at different universities.

    Part of the Casimir track was to write a research proposal, which granted me the funds to start a PhD in my current group on a subject that I find very interesting. The main topic of my PhD is to study superconducting transport through molecules, for which I perform experiments to investigate the interplay between superconductivity and molecular degrees of freedom, on the scale of a single molecule.

    The Casimir Research School offers various courses that help me to develop a broader set of skills, which are not only applicable during, but also after the PhD. In addition, the school organizes career related events which I find helpful for thinking about my future plans and whether to pursue an academic or industrial career.

  • Simone Peirone Simone Peirone +
    Simone Peirone
    University of Trieste (Italy)
    Simone Peirone

    Simone Peirone

    • Nationality: Italian
    • MSc.'s degree: Theoretical Physics, University of Trieste (Italy)
    • PhD student at: Theoretical Cosmology group at Lorentz Institute, Leiden University
    • Contact: peirone[at]lorentz.leidenuniv[dot]nl

    After I obtained my master degree in Italy, I wanted to continue my research in Cosmology in a stimulating environment, where I could work side by side with highly qualified collaborators. This has become possible since I obtained a PhD in the Theoretical Cosmology group at Leiden University.

    In this group I have the possibility to work on some of the cutting-edge topics in modern Cosmology, confident of the help I can get through discussions, collaborations and sharing of different ideas.

    In particular, my research projects are focused on the study of Dark Energy and Modified Gravity models and their relation with the late time cosmological expansion. In order to do so, I have to implement sophisticated machineries which allow to solve numerically the cosmological equations of such models, in order to state their validity.

    All my work has been possible also thanks to the activities, such as courses, seminars, workshops and meetings, organised by the Casimir research school. Thanks to them I can exploit the merging of the high-quality scientific resources offered by the physics department at Leiden University.

  • Anne-Marije Zwerver Anne-Marije Zwerver +
    Anne-Marije Zwerver
    TU Delft (Netherlands)
    Anne-Marije Zwerver

    Anne-Marije Zwerver

    • Born in: The Netherlands
    • MSc.'s degree: Physics, TU Delft (The Netherlands)
    • PhD student at: QuTech, TU Delft
    • Contact: A.M.J.Zwerver[at]tudelft[dot]nl

    The theory of quantum mechanics and its counter intuitive predictions like superposition, apparent non-locality and entanglement have fascinated me ever since I can remember. Nevertheless, when I started my master at the Delft University of Technology, I never thought I would continue in research. But, doing my master project at QuTech taught me that, even though we cannot interpret quantum mechanics fully, we can use its predictions to control individual quantum particles and thereby test and use its foundational concepts.

    For me it is a challenge and a great adventure to dive deeper into the quantum world and stretch up the boundaries of what we know and can do nowadays. In the group of Lieven Vandersypen at the Delft University of Technology, we use so called quantum dots, small islands of electrons, and manipulate these electrons and their spins for the purpose of quantum computation.

    In this track, The Casimir Research school helps me to get in touch with different fields of science during various talks and through its low-entry activities it gets me to meet peer young scientists. Moreover, Casimir offers interesting in-depth courses, for example in quantum information processing and in electronics, to strengthen my knowledge as a researcher.

These PhD students started in Delft or Leiden in 2013 or 2014

  • Weichun Zhang Weichun Zhang +
    Weichun Zhang
    Zhejiang University, Hangzhou (China)
    Weichun Zhang

    Weichun Zhang

    • Nationality: Chinese
    • MSc.'s degree: Optics, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou (China)
    • PhD student at: Single-Molecule Optics group, Leiden University
    • Contact: ZhangW[at]physics.leidenuniv[dot]nl

    After obtaining my master’s degree in China, I decided to seek for an international research group to continue my research. I feel excited to be a member of Single-Molecule Optics group in Leiden University and I find that it is exactly what I was looking for.

    As our group’s name indicates, we investigate light-matter interaction at the single-molecule scale. The goal of my project is to enhance the fluorescence emission of single molecules by single gold nanorods. This is really a multi-disciplinary project. Since my background is physics, I have to learn a lot of chemistry, for which I collaborate with chemists and other researchers. Fortunately, I benefit a lot from the diversity of background in our group as it provides me more ways to understanding my project and the problems that I encounter.

    The Casimir Research School offers even more opportunities to communicate with PhD students from Leiden and Delft. I believe that the training I receive from Casimir will definitely be beneficial for my whole life, whether I stay in the academic community or not after finishing my PhD.

  • Laura Restrepo Perez Laura Restrepo Perez +
    Laura Restrepo Perez
    KU Leuven (Belgium) / TU Dresden (Germany)
    Laura Restrepo Perez

    Laura Restrepo Perez

    • Nationality: Colombian
    • MSc.'s degree: Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, KU Leuven (Belgium) / TU Dresden (Germany)
    • PhD student at: Bionanoscience/Chirlmin Joo lab and Cees Dekker lab, Delft University of Technology
    • Contact: L[dot]RestrepoPerez[at]tudelft[dot]nl

    I came to Europe all the way from Colombia to pursue my master studies as part of the Erasmus Mundus program in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. After completing my degree, I started looking for a PhD position, but it was not easy to find a place in which physics, biology and nanoscience were so strongly connected. Luckily, dr. Chirlmin Joo and prof. dr. Cees Dekker from the Bionanoscience department of TU Delft had an idea for a very multidisciplinary and interesting project, so here I am! Now I am using solid state nanopores to develop a new technique for protein sequencing.

    My project requires the combination of physics, biology and material science; so it is very important for me to discuss and collaborate with people coming from various backgrounds. Throughout the year, Casimir organizes workshops and events that allow interaction and interesting discussions with researchers from different fields. It is also a great way to learn, to keep track of the developments in other research areas and to discuss general issues about science and academia. Besides the events, Casimir also offers a variety of courses that are useful to "fill the gaps" of our previous education according to the needs that we face during our PhD project.

  • Nandini Muthusubramanian Nandini Muthusubramanian +
    Nandini Muthusubramanian
    Johns Hopkins Univ. Baltimore (USA)
    Nandini Muthusubramanian

    Nandini Muthusubramanian

    • Nationality: Indian
    • MSc.'s degree: Physics, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland (USA)
    • PhD student at: Molecular Electronics and Devices group, Delft University of Technology
    • Contact: N.Muthusubramanian@tudelft[dot]nl

    Even during the second semester in my master’s program, I was actively seeking out various institutions around the world which could offer a diverse body of research in the field of nanotechnology. I realized the sheer breadth of research in TU Delft while reading literature related to my master’s thesis and envisioned being a part of this great scientific fraternity. Luckily for me, Casimir Graduate School was expanding and there were many PhD positions up for grabs; I gave it my best shot in the interviews and bingo here I am!

    I am excited to be a part of the Molecular Electronics and Devices group in the department of Quantum Nanoscience, with Prof. Herre van der Zant as my supervisor. True to the spirit of my group’s name, my research focuses on studying the quantum transport properties of single molecules using the technique of mechanically controlled break junctions. I am specifically interested in studying the effect of solvent interaction on the charge transport in molecules.

    My research in this direction requires a multi-disciplinary approach, and this is where the structure of Casimir Graduate School has been very helpful. The diversity of researchers from Delft and Leiden coupled with an encouraging environment to collaborate with different groups has made me reach my goals faster and has given me fresh ideas to work on. I definitely will make the most out of my PhD to assimilate the knowledge these fantastic institutions can offer, as I hold some cherished ambitions to launch my own start-up in the nanotechnology sector. I believe that the TU Delft will give me that leading edge to pursue my life’s dreams!

  • Vasco Tenner Vasco Tenner +
    Vasco Tenner
    Univ. of Amsterdam / VU (Netherlands)
    Vasco Tenner

    Vasco Tenner

    • Nationality: Dutch
    • MSc.'s degree: Advanced Matter and Energy Physics, Universiteit van Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit (the Netherlands)
    • PhD student at: Quantum Optics group, Leiden University
    • Contact: Tenner[at]physics.leidenuniv[dot]nl

    After completing masters research project in the Laserlab in Amsterdam, I decided to move to a project at another institute. I like the mix of both fundamental research, and more practical applications. In the Quantum Optics group I can combine both directions, and I can use many practical skills that I learned in my master’s program. The tight interaction with the experienced members of the Quantum Optics group helps to speed up my research.

    In my PhD project I study surface plasmon lasers, which might deliver an in-plane light source for future optical circuits and information processing. I study different fundamental properties of these lasers, and I am interested in the effects of the high confinement of the surface plasmons and the extreme gain and loss in my samples.

    Besides working on my project, I find it important to keep up with developments in a variety of fields. The Casimir research school provides you with the opportunity to meet young researchers from these other fields. Furthermore, I can benefit from courses that are organized by the research school to expand my knowledge.

  • Nicandro Bovenzi Nicandro Bovenzi +
    Nicandro Bovenzi
    La Sapienza, University of Rome (Italy)
    Nicandro Bovenzi

    Nicandro Bovenzi

    • Nationality: Italian
    • MSc.'s degree: Physics, La Sapienza, University of Rome (Italy)
    • PhD student at: Theoretical Nanophysics group, Leiden University
    • Contact: bovenzi[at]lorentz.leidenuniv[dot]nl

    When I decided to apply for a PhD position in theoretical physics, I was looking for a place where I could be continuously stimulated to improve my personal skills, through discussions, collaborations and sharing of different ideas. This is actually a key feature of the Nanophysics group in Leiden University, where I recently started my project about transport properties of novel materials, in order to understand and manipulate a wide range of physical phenomena, with the aim to implement new kinds of highly-efficient electronic devices.

    As an additional appealing ingredient, my actual work includes a large collaboration with people in Delft: together we are combining theoretical and experimental efforts in order to get a more complete picture of our present field of research, the two-dimensional electron gas at the interface between oxide heterostructures.

    I feel really glad to have the opportunity to work in this very dynamic environment, where you can meet people who conduct high-impact research. This, in combination with the fact that I can work on many different projects, I consider a meaningful step for the development of my career.

    And last but not least, the events -courses, seminars, workshops, meetings- organized by Casimir allows you to exploit and take part in the merging of high-quality scientific resources offered by the physics departments at both Leiden University and Delft University of Technology.

  • Suzanne van Dam Suzanne van Dam +
    Suzanne van Dam
    Univ. of Cambridge (UK)/ TU Delft (Netherlands)
    Suzanne van Dam

    Suzanne van Dam

    • Nationality: Dutch
    • MSc.'s degree: Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge (United Kingdom) and Applied Physics, Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands)
    • PhD student at: Quantum Transport group, Ronald Hanson lab, TU Delft
    • Contact: s.b.vandam[at]tudelft[dot]nl

    Quantum mechanics is a well-established theory and its predictions have been experimentally confirmed to great detail. Nevertheless, the foundational meaning of the theory remains elusive. The apparent non-locality, the behaviour of a quantum state upon measurement, and the status of the wavefunction are subjects that still lead to a lot of debate. In my PhD I want to experimentally probe and test such foundational concepts.

    In the group of Ronald Hanson in the Department of Quantum Nanoscience of the TU Delft, we study the quantum mechanical behaviour of spins in diamond, over which we have an extensive experimental control. For me, this system forms a great opportunity to look at the foundations of quantum mechanics.

    The Casimir Research School helps me by providing courses that help to move my PhD forward. I for example participated in the ‘Electronics for Physicists’ course that addresses the power and pitfalls of the electronics that I come across in the lab on a daily basis. I look forward to the rest of my four years as a PhD student in the Casimir School, not only to participate in more courses like this, but also to learn about and from research done by others in the School, both in Delft and in Leiden.

How to apply?

PhD Graduate Program

You can apply for a PhD position within the Casimir Research School by filling out the form under the 'apply now' button. Only complete applications will be taken into consideration by the review committee.


Based on the received applications, a committee of leading Casimir Research School scientists will select the best candidates for the available positions. A number of these candidates will be invited for an interview. After the interview it is decided who will be accepted into the Casimir program.

PhD students in the Netherlands

Every year about 50 students start their career as a PhD student within the Casimir Research School. This is a group with smart people from many nations around the world, mixed with about 40% students from the Netherlands.

The PhD positions we offer are full-time salaried research positions. The normal duration of a PhD position in the Netherlands is four years. Most PhD students will finish their PhD within this timeframe. The success rates for the Casimir Research School are high, above 90%, and the average time for submission of the manuscript agrees with the standard contract period. During your PhD you are expected to take specialized courses and contribute to teaching.

At least 83% of Dutch people speak sufficient English for a smooth conversation with a native English speaker. This makes getting around very easy if you do not speak Dutch. Of course the use of English in our research environment is even greater. All seminars and colloquia are given in English, and undergraduate and graduate theses are normally written in English.