Utrecht University students win KHMW Jan Brouwer Thesis Awards 2024

Tara Tankink and Oana Ciuraru win KHMW Jan Brouwer Thesis Awards 2024. Photo: © KHWM

Oana Ciuraru (former student Dutch Literature and Culture) and Tara Tankink (Public Administration and Organizational Science) both win a Jan Brouwer Thesis Award from the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (KHMW). Ciuraru receives the award for her research on 'petroculture' in early twentieth-century literature, and Tankink investigated the influence of hidden disabilities on students.

"Leading edge and pioneering"

Oana Ciuraru wins the Jan Brouwer Thesis Award for Language and Literature Studies for her thesis 'Rubik's Cube: An investigation into Dutch petroculture from the interwar period'. Ciuraru describes, based on Dutch and Romanian sources/corpora, how the modernist literature of the 1920s and 1930s reflects the increasingly central significance of oil extraction.

A century later, this thematization of 'petroculture' is of course much more heavily loaded, politically and ecologically, and acquires unsuspected contemporary resonances," the jury writes in its report. According to the jury, Ciuraru's thesis is therefore "extremely current," and her transnational approach is "pioneering for contemporary Dutch studies." "It connects the historical method with contemporary theory formation of 'eco-criticism'."

“Recommendations that can be applied immediately

The thesis 'Ableism at University: Experiencing Student Life with an Invisible Disability' earns Tara Tankink the Jan Brouwer Thesis Award for Political Science and Public Administration. Tankink focuses on the experiences of students with invisible disabilities, such as mental vulnerabilities, and investigates how they perceive the university's approach to them.

The jury describes Tankink's thesis as "convincing" and "creative" and praises her dedication. "This student truly cares about the subject and succeeds in conducting strong research from a personal involvement while maintaining scientific precision by reflecting on this involvement." According to the jury, her research provides "a very clear and revealing insight into an experience of the world that many people are not familiar with," and Tankink's recommendations are considered highly relevant and directly applicable for universities.