As part of the festivities for King’s Day, royal honours are awarded annually to individuals who over the course of many years have served the public good or made a great contribution within their respective fields or professions. The honours are meant to recognise and thank them for their achievements.

A leading country in the area of high-performance computing

As a result of numerous recommendations, some by leading international researchers within the field of computing, it was decided this year to bestow royal honours on Dr Aerts. Explaining its decision, the selection committee mentions the influential role Dr Aerts played in making the Netherlands a leading example in the field of high-performance computing. Over the course of his distinguished academic and professional career, Dr Aerts has worked tirelessly to ensure the Dutch research community has access to cutting-edge computer facilities. He has also been a driving force behind the development of many national and international networks and was often the first Dutch representative in many such collaborative ventures. Examples are Advanced Research Computing, Academic Discussion Group Europe (ARCADE), (1995), the e-Infrastructures Reflection Group (e-IRG, he chaired in 2004-2005), PRACE (for HPC), EGI (for Grids), and after 2012 ePLAN (Platform of eScience Centers in the Netherlands and PLAN-E, Platform of National eScience Centers in Europe). Over the last few years, Dr Aerts has used his knowledge and passion to promote the sustainable development of research software, the use of FAIR principles for data and software within the research community ad the harmonisation of research data management planning.

‘Few individuals have been so influential in the development and promotion of digital research in the Netherlands as Patrick’, says Dr Joris van Eijnatten, director of the eScience Center. ‘He was one of the first Dutch researchers to understand the enormous possibilities offered by compute-intensive research and to ensure researchers gain access to these. His dedication laid the groundwork for many notable achievements over the past 20 years.’

‘Achievements are never an individual enterprise but rather the result of collective effort’, says Dr Aerts. ‘My contributions were made possible by many other people. In that sense, I view this great honour as a recognition of the work we have jointly carried out. I am immensely proud and thankful.’

About Patrick Aerts

Dr Aerts obtained his PhD in Quantum Chemistry cum laude from the University of Groningen (UG) in 1986. Between 1985 and 1990 he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at UG and a part-time support researcher for the ‘Working Group on the use of Supercomputers’. From 1990 to 2012, he was the director of the National Computing Facilities Foundation (NCF). Between 2012 and 2019, he worked as senior advisor strategic alliances at the eScience Center and senior research fellow at DANS. 

Read more about Patrick Aerts

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