Here are the winners of the 2015 "Graduate School Award for PhD Excellence"

To further stimulate and reward excellence in PhD research, the Graduate School invited its PhD candidates and recent graduates to submit their work for the 2015 "Graduate School Award for PhD Excellence". During a festive award ceremony, the winners of this year’s competition were announced by Graduate School Dean Professor Liesbet van Zoonen.

The School received 65 high quality submissions for the competition. Almost all of them were written in English, testifying to the international nature of the School. The jury was impressed by the productivity of our PhD candidates, their high visibility in international conferences and journals, and the outstanding quality of their work.

After an initial selection by the Graduate School, the Programme Board reviewed the short lists for the categories best poster, best conference paper, best article and best PhD thesis. The Graduate School wishes to congratulate the winners and thank all participants for contributing to the competition.

Jury (Programme Board)

 All photos of the event are available on our Google+ page

Best poster

With five submitted posters, this category received the lowest amount of submissions. The majority of the submissions were characterised by an overuse of text, which did not effectively use all the visual opportunities that such a visual medium allows. However, the poster by Psychology PhD candidate Marloes Nederhand clearly stood out from the rest. Her poster, despite the large amount of text, was able to clearly elucidate the argument with appropriate use of headers and colours.  

  • In order to stimulate more poster submissions for next year, the Graduate School will seek to organise a workshop which will help PhD candidates further develop their visualisation skills.

Best paper

The selection within this category was one of the hardest. In total 23 papers were submitted, all of which were of high quality and had interesting research results. Hence, the jury looked closer at the presence of a full empirical cycle and multidisciplinarity. Furthermore, the individual contribution of the researcher(s) was taken into account. The wining submission was indeed co-authored by Arts and Culture PhD candidates Niels van Poecke and Janna Michael.

Other nominees (in alphabetical order)

  • Anne Annink (Public Administration)
    "Enabling a work-life balance for independent professionals: from social support to capabilities"
    Presented at ECSB Conference RENT XXIX Zagreb (Croatia) November 18th, 2015
  • Balázs Boross (Arts and Culture Studies)
    “These cameras are here for a reason – media coming out, symbolic power and the value of ‘participation’. Behind the scenes of the Dutch reality programme Uit de Kast"
    Presented at International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), Université du Québec à Montréal (Canada) July 16th, 2015
  • Joyce Neys (Media and Communication)
    "Media practices that empower? Exploring remix and political agency"
    Presented at Political Agency in the Digital Age - ECREA Communication and Democracy, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen (Denmark) October 9th, 2015
  • Keri Anne Pekaar (Psychology)
    "Why the Emotions of Other People Matter: A Closer Look at the Link between Emotional Intelligence and Job Performance"
    Presented at European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP) conference, Oslo (Norway) May 23rd, 2015.

Best article

Natalia Mamonova (Development Studies, ISS)

This category also received 23 submissions. Considering the high quality of the submissions as well as the quality of the journals, the same criteria as with the conference paper category were taken into account. The winning article received high acclaim from the jury for its clear writing, methodological rigour and innovative outcomes. The journal in which it was published is furthermore one of the best ones in the field of development studies.

Best PhD thesis (shared first place)

  • Samira van Bohemen (Sociology)
    "The Magic of the Red Hat: A study in the sociology of play and identity performance"
    Samira is currently looking for a publisher for her thesis. Therefore, her manuscript is not yet available online. Hard copies can be requested by sending an email to You can also watch a recent interview with dr. Samira van Bohemen on her PhD thesis at Studio Erasmus (Dutch video).

    Defended at Erasmus University Rotterdam on May 21st, 2015

  • Kimberley Breevaart (Psychology)
    "Engaging Leadership"
    Defended (cum laude) at Erasmus University Rotterdam on May 29th, 2015

14 dissertations were submitted, all of them of solid quality. The jury appreciated the originality of the research question of Samira van Bohemen’s thesis and the innovative application of play theory to a sociological phenomenon. Kimberly Breevaart’s thesis was praised for its solid design, research methods and contribution to the field of leadership. The individual jury assessments did not lead to a unanimous verdict, therefore the school decided to grant the award to both researchers.