The visiting professorships were established in 2006 by the Solvay Institutes, the organization that builds on the renowned Solvay Conferences in Brussels in the twentieth century. Over a two-month period, the visiting professor gives a series of lectures on her or his scientific work. The kickoff is a public lecture in Brussels.
Samaya Nissanke is an associate professor at GRAPPA, the research center for gravity and astroparticle physics at the University of Amsterdam. Since 2018, she has been working in a joint appointment both for the Anton Pannekoek Institute and for the Institute of Physics – and through the latter is also affiliated to the National Institute for Subatomic Physics Nikhef in Amsterdam.
Nissanke's research on gravitational waves is at the intersection of astronomy and fundamental physics. She is internationally regarded as one of the pioneers in the field of multimessenger astronomy, where information from gravitational waves, particle physics and astronomical observations come together and provide new insights.
In 2020, she was awarded the Breakthrough Prize Foundation's New Horizon Prize in Physics for her work on the new techniques she helped develop. In 2021, the won a Suffrage Science Award from the London Medical Council for her efforts on behalf of women in the natural sciences.
Nissanke, herself British of Japanese-Sri Lankan descent, frequently emphasizes within and outside her work the importance of diversity to the sciences themselves. She is the second woman to be appointed on the Solvay Chair.