Rienk van Grondelle has been awarded an Academy Professorship for his outstanding contributions to the understanding of the first stage in photosynthesis. He has very successfully approached this field of research from a biophysical perspective, and has established one of the leading research groups in the world in this field. More specifically, Grondelle's unique contribution has been to carry out pioneering research at the junction of biology, physics, and chemistry. By using new laser-based technology, Rienk van Grondelle's group was the first to highlight the very rapid molecular process by which plants harvest as much sunlight as possible without suffering damage as a result. The pigment that absorbs the light appears to transfer excessive energy to another pigment, where it is converted into warmth and disappears without causing any damage.