Avatar: master of all elements


Prof. dr. Atsushi Urakawa (TU Delft)

Air: Catalysis - the enabler of seemingly-impossible chemical transformations.


Catalysis is everywhere in our lives. It plays essential roles in the production of chemicals and fuels as well as in environmental protection. It also serves as the enabler of innovative future technologies towards sustainable development. In this talk, I will describe how I got fascinated by catalysis and its important roles in achieving sustainable carbon cycle, namely closing the cycle by efficient conversion of carbon dioxide. It is necessary to understand the boundaries defined by thermodynamics and kinetics and I will highlight the current challenges and opportunities to accelerate developments of chemical transformation technologies. 

Curriculum Vitae

Trained and working in chemistry, chemical engineering and physical chemistry in Japan, USA, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain, I am now Professor of Catalysis Engineering at Department of Chemical Engineering of TU Delft. My passion is to use the power of catalysis and reaction engineering to enable unprecedented reactivities to offer solutions to environmental and energy challenges we face. Rational catalyst and catalytic process design is the goal of my research and we develop tools and perform research towards that.


Dr. Yury Gorbanev (UA)

Fire: The hot topic of cold plasma


Electrification of chemistry is one of the most direct ways to sustainable future, not least due to the current geopolitical situation and the related energy crisis. However, the nature of renewable electricity implies that the processes coupled with it are compatible with intermittent operation. Cold, or non-equilibrium plasma is a tool that helps the humanity to transition from using the ever-depleting fossil energy to e.g. solar power. In this talk, I will introduce the concept of plasma, its types, and applications. On this journey we will go from fundamentals in physics and chemistry to the very application sites of plasma technology. We will discuss plasma in medicine, plasma in organic and inorganic synthesis, plasma gas conversion with and without plasma catalysis, and other relevant aspects of plasma science.

Curriculum Vitae

I have always been fascinated by the concepts of green and sustainable chemical processes. After obtaining a PhD in catalysis and sustainable chemistry from the Technical University of Denmark, I decided to take started doing biomedical non-equilibrium plasma research at the University of York, UK. Shortly after I moved to the University of Antwerp, where I am now a senior researcher in plasma(- catalytic) gas conversion. My training in organic, inorganic, and radical chemistry helps me look at plasma processes and applications from a chemical perspective. It is my belief that a complete interdisciplinary expertise, arising from collaborations between people with different backgrounds, is required to bridge the gap between lab plasma research and actual industrial feasibility.


Dr. ir. Francien Peterse (UU)

Earth: a molecular view on (past) climate change


Climate changes, and it is changing fast. To improve models used to project future climate scenarios we need long-term records of (past) climate variability to constrain the outputs of these models. However, instrumental records go back only ~150 years, which is where fossil molecules stored in ancient sedimentary archives can come into play. In this talk, I will show how certain organisms adjust the molecular structure of their membrane lipids to environmental change, and how this mechanism has revealed new insights into e.g., the response of East Asian Monsoon precipitation to global warming, and the increased occurrence of droughts in the Horn of Africa.

Curriculum Vitae

After dropping chemistry in high school I could have never imagined becoming the daily leader of the Organic Geochemistry group at Utrecht University. During my soil science studies in Wageningen, I got intrigued by the capacity of volcanic ash soils to bind so much organic carbon. Wanting to know more about the composition and sources of this organic carbon I learned about the existence of lipid biomarkers. I continued to learn more during my PhD at Royal NIOZ and postdoc at ETH Z├╝rich, and use them to unravel earth science-related questions ever since.


Dr. Hendrik Marks (RU)

Water: Epigenetic regulation of very early embryonic development in mammals


Epiblast and trophectoderm cells of the human embryo display a prolonged period of developmental plasticity. Contrary to the mouse blastocyst, where the epiblast and trophoblast lineages are restricted, these lineages are not yet committed in the human blastocyst. This unrestricted lineage potential of cells of early human blastocysts is retained in naive human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), which have the potential to differentiate into both embryonic and extra-embryonic cell types including the trophoblast lineage. The developmental plasticity of naive hPSCs also endows them with the capacity to form blastoids, which are generated from naive hPSCs that self-organize into structures resembling blastocysts. Here, I will focus on our endeavours to characterize the epigenetic landscape of this unrestricted potential of hPSCs using an integrated multi-omics approach. We identify a strong enrichment of polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2)-associated H3K27me3 in the chromatin of naive pluripotent stem cells and H3K27me3 enrichment at promoters of lineage-determining genes, including trophoblast regulators. Using further functional follow-up, we discovered an unexpected role for this H3K27me3, as further explained in my talk.  

Curriculum Vitae

As associate professor at Radboud University, I am intrigued by the question of how the zygote can generate many different cell types as present in an organism. After having trained at Wageningen University and the University of British Colombia (Vancouver, Canada), an NWO VIDI grant (2013) enabled me to establish my independent research team. My team pioneered a 2D cell model to study genome regulation during early mouse embryogenesis, uncovering epigenetic mechanisms that drive Inner Cell Mass (ICM) cells to further develop. To refine our model and gain insight into implantation, we characterized new mouse pluripotent stem cells representing peri-implantation stages. As a second research line, I initiated a consortium to unravel the cellular interplay within post-implantation 3D embryo models using single cell -omics, supported by an ENW XL grant (2022). To translate his findings and increase clinical relevance, I recently successfully initiated a third research line in human, showing an unanticipated role for epigenetic regulation in commitment of embryonic cells towards placenta or fetus. Last month, I was granted a ZonMW open to follow-up on these findings.


10:00Doors open
11:00Dr. Hendrik Marks
11:50Dr. Yury Gorbanev
13:40Dr. ir. Francien Peterse
14:30Coffee break
15:00Prof. dr. Atsushi Urakawa