Robbert Dijkgraaf headshot

Robbert Dijkgraaf

Past Director

Robbert Dijkgraaf, served as Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study from 2012–22. He was sworn-in as Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands by King Willem-Alexander on January 10, 2022.

Dijkgraaf is a mathematical physicist who has made significant contributions to string theory and the advancement of science education. His research focuses on the interface between mathematics and particle physics. In addition to finding surprising and deep connections between matrix models, topological string theory, and supersymmetric quantum field theory, Dijkgraaf has developed precise formulas for the counting of bound states that explain the entropy of certain black holes.

For his contributions to science, Dijkgraaf was awarded the Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific award in the Netherlands, in 2003, and was named a Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion in 2012. Dijkgraaf has been conferred honorary doctorates from Leiden University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Radboud University Nijmegen and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Past President (2008–12) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, past President (2016–17) of the InterAcademy Partnership, and past Co-Chair (2009–17) of the InterAcademy Council, Dijkgraaf is a distinguished public policy adviser and passionate advocate for science and the arts. Many of his activities—which have included frequent appearances on television, a monthly newspaper column in NRC Handelsblad, several books for general audiences, and the launch of the science education website—are at the interface between science and society. In 2017, Princeton University Press published The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge in which Dijkgraaf and IAS founding Director Abraham Flexner articulate how essential basic research and original thinking are to innovation and societal progress, a belief that has informed the mission of the Institute for ninety years.

Dates at IAS

School of Natural Sciences
School of Natural Sciences


Utrecht University
Utrecht University
Utrecht University


Appointments: InterAcademy Partnership, President 2016–17; InterAcademy Council, Co-Chair 2009–17; Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, President 2008–12; Second Innovation Platform (chaired by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands), Member 2007–10
Awards: Iris Medal for Science Communication 2019; Comenius Prize 2012; Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion 2012; Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, Spinoza Prize 2003; Netherlands Physical Society, Physica Prize 2002
Honorary Degrees: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Honorary Doctorate 2019; Leiden University, Honorary Doctorate 2018; Radboud University Nijmegen, Honorary Doctorate 2013
Memberships: Academia Europaea; American Academy of Arts and Sciences; American Mathematical Society; American Philosophical Society; Netherlands Physical Society; Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts; Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences; Royal Netherlands Chemical Society; Royal Society of Edinburgh


University of Amsterdam, Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics
Professor 1992–2004, Distinguished University Professor of Mathematical Physics 2005–current
Princeton University
Research Associate