Koen Kuijken's home page

Welcome to my homepage at the Sterrewacht Leiden, the astronomy research institute of Leiden University, where I have been working as professor since August 2002, carrying out research on galaxies and cosmology, particularly regarding the distribution of the invisible 'dark matter' that appears to pervade the universe.

Prior to coming to Leiden I was on the faculty at the Kapteyn Institute in Groningen (1994-2002), a Hubble Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (1991-1994), a postdoc at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (1989-1991), a corporal in the Belgian Air Force (1989), and a PhD student at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK (1985-1988).

Research interests

My research interests center mainly on the dynamics of galaxies, gravitational lensing and dark matter. I make use of observations taken with telescopes on La Palma, Hawaii, in Australia and in Chile, and in space: the Hubble Space Telescope and, soon, the Euclid space telescope.

As part of my research, I have been involved in two instrument-based projects: the OmegaCAM wide-field camera, and the Planetary Nebulae Spectrograph. OmegaCAM became operational in September 2011 on the VLT Survey Telescope, a 2.6m telescope on ESO's Paranal observatory in Chile. It is an optical CCD mosaic camera that can image a square degree with 0.2 arcsec pixels, and that delivers exquisite image quality over the full field. With it, my team and I carried out the Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS), mapping 1350 square degrees of extragalactic sky in multiple colours, with the aim to study the distribution of dark matter and the nature of dark energy, principally through the technique of gravitational lensing. Please visit the website to see our latest results!
You can scroll and zoom through the entire survey in the panel below (or visit a dedicated web page here). Be warned, the survey contains some 50 million galaxies!

A complete list of my publications, from the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS), can be found here.

Onderwijs / Teaching

autumn 2020: MSc course on "Gravitational Lensing" (with Alessandro Sonnenfeld and Henk Hoekstra)

spring 2019, 2020, 2021: MSc core course "Large Scale Structure and Galaxy Formation"

spring 2018: Video class for prospective BSc students

spring 2016, 2017: BSc Research Project coordinator

autumn 2015: Classes on cosmology for high school physics teachers

2014: Coordinator Lapptop astronomy programme for high school students

2013-2015: study advisor 1st year students

Autumn 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013: MSc core course "Origin and Evolution of the Universe"

Autumn 2009: MSc optional course "Gravitational Lensing"

2004-2006: BSc course "Inleiding Astrofysica"

2003: BSc course "Modern Onderzoek in de Sterrenkunde"

During my time at the Kapteyn Institute, Univ. of Groningen:

1999-2001: BSc course "Modern Onderzoek in de Sterrenkunde"

1996-1998: BSc course "Sterrenkunde 1A"

1995/7/9: MSc course "Stellar dynamics"

Other education/outreach materials

Presentatie over zwaartekrachtlenzen op het Bruno Ernst Symposium (30 maart 2007) te Leiden.

Invited review, and conference summary, at the conference "10 years of cosmic shear" in Edinburgh, July 2010, are on-line here.

8-lecture course on gravitational lensing, at Univ. of Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia, August 2014 can be seen here.

A webinar to the LIneA institute in Brazil (Octover 2016) about the first cosmology results from the KiDS survey can be viewed here.

Policy Functions

From 2007 until 2012 I served as Scientific Director (dept. chair) of Leiden Observatory, before stepping down to return to full-time research and teaching.

I am currently the chair of the NWO Science domain advisory committee for astronomy, and serve on the institute advisory board of ASTRON, and the Fachbeirat of the Max-Planck Inst. for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE). Since 2007 I have been a member of the Dutch Committee for Astronomy (NCA), now known as the "Astronomy Council".

Previously I served as member of the ESO Council, and the SRON board.

From 2008 to 2017 I was a board member of the Koninklijke Maatschappij voor Natuurkunde "Diligentia" in the Hague, which organises lectures for the broader public by professional scientists.

Recent Awards

In 2015 the Alexander van Humbold Foundation in Germany granted me a research award, with which to set up a collaboration with the excellent Argelander Institute for Astrophysics in Bonn.

In 2016 I was elected a member of the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen in Haarlem.

In November 2019 I started a sabbatical in London at the Imperial Centre for Interference and Cosmology, but this was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2022 our Dark universe Science Collaboration (DUSC) was awarded a 3Meuro grant by NWO to study cosmology and galaxy formation with the upcoming Euclid space telescope.

Media interviews and other outreach materials

De Mare, 27 januari 2005, over "dubbel-oratie" lees
Teleac "Kettingvraag", 7 april 2006, over de leeftijd van het heelal luister
BNR Nieuwsradio, 23 augustus 2006, over de 'bullet cluster' luister
NRC, 20 januari 2007, over donkere materie lees
Trouw, 25 juli 2007, over donkere materie lees
Intermediair, 7 oktober 2010, over sky surveys lees
Fundacion BBVA, 14 december 2011, n.a.v. lezing over gravitatielenzen (in het Spaans) lees of bekijk persconferentie; zie ook ABC; cincodias.com; fronteras del conocimiento; innovaticias.com; sinc.
Scientias, 9 januari 2012, over dark matter surveys lees
De Mare, 16 januari 2012, idem lees (English)
Kijk.nl, 23 april 2012, over nieuwe metingen van de hoeveelheid donkere materie in ons deel van de Melkweg lees
De Standaard, 20 June 2014, over de E-ELT en ESO lees
Publiekslezing over gravitatielenzen in Medellin, Colombia, 21 august 2014. video en 1-minuut samenvatting (in het Spaans) video
Bonn university announcement on my Humboldt Research Award, January 2016 read
Radio interview Radio Sleutelstad, Leiden, 17 februari 2016, over de Euclid ruimtemissie. luister
Artikel in "Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Natuurkunde", September 2018, over donkere materie en zwaartekrachtlenzen. lees
A short celebration of Jim Peebles on the occasion of his being awarded the 2019 Nobel prize in physics. read
References in the press to our July 31 2020 announcement of new KiDS results ('KiDS-1000 comology') can be found here. For the YouTube webinar see here.
Artikel in Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Natuurkunde over de relatie tussen natuur- en sterrenkunde (dubbel-interview samen met Ana Achucarro). lees
Artikel in het sterrenkunde tijdschrift Zenit van januari 2021 over de KiDS-1000 kosmologieresultaten. lees


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