During the 172th Dies Natalis celebration on 10 January, TU Delft awarded an honorary doctorate to the American safety expert Deborah Hersman and to the German sociologist Dirk Helbing. Hersman has been working for the National Transportation Safety Board since 2004. She has chaired this American agency, which investigates accidents, since 2009. Hersman holds an MSc degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University.
Prof. Dirk Helbing has been a professor of sociology at ETH Zurich since 2007. He is a co-founder of the ETH Risk Center. Before this, he was the director of the Institute of Transport and Economics at Dresden University of Technology. Helbing’s sociology group focuses on complex social networks. Their work includes simulating the behaviour of crowds when panic breaks out. Helbing studied physics and mathematics at the University of Göttingen. He then completed a doctorate at the University of Stuttgart, focusing on social interactions, complex systems and game theory.