Robbert Dijkgraaf

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Robbert Dijkgraaf
Robbert Dijkgraaf.jpg
Robbert Dijkgraaf, 2014
Robertus Henricus Dijkgraaf

(1960-01-24) 24 January 1960 (age 59)
ResidencePrinceton, New Jersey, US
Alma materUtrecht University
Known forString theory
AwardsSpinoza Prize (2003)
Scientific career
FieldsTheoretical physics
InstitutionsInstitute for Advanced Study
University of Amsterdam
Doctoral advisorGerard 't Hooft
Notable studentsLotte Hollands

Robertus Henricus "Robbert" Dijkgraaf FRSE (Dutch: [About this soundroːˈbɛrtʏs About this soundɦɛnˈrikʏs About this soundˈrɔbərt About this soundˈdɛikɣraːf]; born 24 January 1960) is a theoretical physicist and string theorist. He is the director and Leon Levy professor at the Institute for Advanced Study[1] in Princeton, New Jersey, and a tenured professor at the University of Amsterdam.


Robertus Henricus Dijkgraaf was born on 24 January 1960 in Ridderkerk, Netherlands. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Dijkgraaf is married to the author Pia de Jong [nl] and has three children.[2]

Dijkgraaf went to Erasmiaans Gymnasium in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He started his education in physics at Utrecht University in 1978. After completing his Bachelor's degree equivalent in 1982 he briefly turned away from physics to pursue painting at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. In 1984, he returned to Utrecht University, to start on his master's degree in theoretical physics. After obtaining his MSc degree, he continued working towards his PhD under supervision of Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft. He studied together with the twins Erik and Herman Verlinde. The original arrangement was that only one of the trio would work on string theory, but all three ended up writing their thesis on this subject. Dijkgraaf obtained his doctorate in 1989 cum laude. His thesis was titled A Geometrical Approach to Two Dimensional Conformal Field Theory.[3] Subsequently, Dijkgraaf held positions at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study.[4] In 1992, he was appointed professor at the University of Amsterdam, where he held the chair of mathematical physics until 2004, when he was appointed distinguished professor at the same university.[5]

He regularly appears on Dutch television and has a (monthly) column in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. From 2008 to 2012 he was president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was elected as one of the two co-chairs of the InterAcademy Council for the period 2009-2013.

Starting 1 July 2012 Dijkgraaf became the director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. On that date he stepped down from his position as president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Robbert Dijkgraaf is a member of the CuriosityStream Advisory Board.[6]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2003, Dijkgraaf was awarded the Spinoza Prize.[7] In doing so he became the first recipient of the award whose advisor also was a recipient ('t Hooft received the first Spinoza Prize in 1995). He used part of his Spinoza Prize grant to set up a website targeted at children and promoting science:

Dijkgraaf is an elected Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2003[8] and of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities.

On 30 May 2012, he was elected an Honorary Member of both the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society and the Netherlands’ Physical Society.[9]

On 5 June 2012, Dijkgraaf was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion.[10]

In 2012 he became a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[11]

He was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh[12] in 2013.

He received an honorary Doctorate form the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2019.


Dijkgraaf's research focuses on string theory and the interface of mathematics and physics in general. He is best known for his work on topological string theory and matrix models, and his name has been given to the Dijkgraaf-Witten invariants and the Witten-Dijkgraaf-Verlinde-Verlinde formula.


  • (2010) Blikwisselingen (Changes of view)
  • (2012) Het nut van nutteloos onderzoek (The usefulness of useless research)
  • (2019) Het isgelijktegen (The equals sign)


  1. ^ "Institute for Advanced Study: Director Robbert Dijkgraaf".
  2. ^ "Robbert Dijkgraaf long biography". Robbert Dijkgraaf. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  3. ^ Dijkgraaf, Robertus Hendricus. "A geometrical approach to two-dimensional Conformal Field Theory". University of Utrecht.
  4. ^ "IAS Community of Scholars Profile: Robbert Dijkgraaf".
  5. ^ Amsterdam, Universiteit van. "prof. dr. R.H. (Robbert) Dijkgraaf - University of Amsterdam". Archived from the original on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "CuriosityStream Advisory Board". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  7. ^ "NWO Spinoza Prize 2003". Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. 4 September 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Robbert Dijkgraaf". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  9. ^ Robbert Dijkgraaf krijgt Erelidmaatschap NNV en KNCV op Universiteit Twente - website University of Twente
  10. ^ 'Robbert Dijkgraaf geëerd met lintje – kritiseert onderzoekspraktijk Nederland', 5 juni 2012, geraadpleegd op 5 juni 2012.'Robbert Dijkgraaf geridderd', 5 juni 2012, geraadpleegd op 5 juni 2012.
  11. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2012-11-10.
  12. ^ "Professor Robbert Henricus Dijkgraaf HonFRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 28 June 2018.

External links[edit]