In memoriam Raimond Ravelli

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Raimond Ravelli, Professor of Structural Biology, at the age of 55, on 30 June 2023.

Raimond was born in De Bilt on 25 March 1968. His keen interest and scientific talent manifested as a teenager, participating in the finals of the National Chemistry Olympiad at age 18. He continued his studies in Chemistry, and obtained his PhD (in Chemistry) from the University of Utrecht in 1998.

After his promotion, Raimond did a postdoctoral fellowship at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Grenoble, France to work at the synchrotron (particle accelerator), where he basked in science being open 24/7. He remained in Grenoble after his postdoc, first as a staff scientist, then as a team leader. Most of the time there, he worked on the ID14-4, a popular beamline for structural biologists.

Raimond enjoyed interacting with scientists from all over the world coming to pick up their data and listening to the “big names” enthusiastically sharing their research with him. Notably, he forged personal relationships with two chemists who subsequently won the Nobel Prize in 2009 for their research on ribosome structures from data obtained on the ID14-4: Ada Yonath privately tutored Raimond about ribosomes and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan acknowledged Raimond in his seminal article. 

In 2006, Raimond was awarded the NWO Vidi and returned to the Netherlands a year later, as an Assistant Professor at Leiden University Medical Center. During this time, he also moved from crystallography to single-particle electron microscopy (EM), cryo-tomography, and correlative microscopy. At Leiden, he combined over 20,000 EM images to obtain a comprehensive image of a zebrafish, which earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest digital image (281 gigapixels!)

Raimond moved to Maastricht in 2014, as an Assistant Professor in the newly formed Maastricht Multimodal Molecular Imaging institute (M4I) to continue his work in cryo-EM and help build the Nanoscopy division. His research has been focusing on developing novel tools and techniques to advance the EM field, for which he holds several patents. He was inaugurated as full Professor in November 2022 with dozens of friends, family, and former colleagues traveling to celebrate with him.

His students remark on his exceptional mentorship and teaching skills; his colleagues know him for his enormous enthusiasm and passion for science, his generosity, inclusivity and humility. This passion for nanobiology led him to create an educational short film about the lifecycle of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in collaboration with Kèvin Knoops, Montserrat Barcena, and Jeroen Claus; the animation has won 15 different awards for design and science education. We are grateful for his scientific contributions, his warm spirit, and his thoughtful musings, but above all we will miss his warm collegiality and friendship.

Raimond will be dearly missed by his family: his partner Maaike de Backer, their son Seppe and daughter Noé; 

A private memorial will be held in celebration of Raimond's life.