John Waterloo van Geuns (1874-1927) received his doctorate from the University of Amsterdam in 1903. He was the first chemist employed by the 'Bataafse Petroleum Maatschappij' (Dutch for 'Batavian Oil Company') which until then had been the domain of geologists and mining engineers.
During the first part of his career, John van Geuns engaged in the development of various petroleum by-products. He can be considered one of the founders of the petrochemical industry. Later on, he became interested in the interaction between light and matter. He acquired a considerable fortune and died at a relatively young age.
His widow, Catharina (To) Priem-van Rossum du Chattel (1883-1961) established the foundation 'John van Geuns Fonds' in 1957, in memory of her first husband. After her death, the foundation received a share of their estate. The foundation's purpose is "to promote the study of chemistry at the University of Amsterdam, more particularly where chemical research is concerned, relating to the interaction of light and matter or the application or improvement of light sources."
The board consists of three professors of chemistry at the University of Amsterdam, an emeritus professor of accountancy, and two relatives of the founder, Mrs. Priem-van Rossum du Chattel:
Prof. W. J. (Wybren Jan) Buma (chair)
Dr E.A.G. (Els) van den Bent (secretary/treasurer)
Prof. A.M. (Fred) Brouwer
Prof. C.J. (Kees) Elsevier
Prof. J.J.A. (Hans) Leenaars RA
A.E. (Ariëtte) Dommering MSc