Academy Job Shadow Days Report

Dorien Bisselink at the Academy Bureau

Dorien Bisselink, P&O team leader at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, spent a morning shadowing Maartje Aukes, Learned Society policy advisor at the Academy Bureau. We spoke to her right after her visit.

As head of the Institute’s P&O team, you must have visited the Trippenhuis Building before.

Absolutely. I come here occasionally for meetings. We visit all the institutes as part of our Academy-wide P&O platform every six weeks. Even so, I learned quite a few things this morning that I didn't know. Maartje does a lot of work for The Young Academy, our society of young scientists. She and her colleague Jorrit Kafoe told me about two of their projects: Science Buddies, which links researchers to refugee academics, and Kennis op Straat, ‘Street Knowledge’, a series of public lectures by young researchers. Because I’m involved in organising a postdoc seminar at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, I thought it would be fun and useful to learn more about these kinds of activities.

Did talking to Maartje and Jorrit give you any new ideas for your postdoc seminar?

The Young Academy members are very concerned about pressure of work at the moment. That’s naturally an issue at my institute too, so why reinvent the wheel when they’ve already done so much research on this topic? The Bureau has a lot of expertise, but people who don’t work there aren’t always aware of it. So it’s important to keep each other informed and to share that expertise.’

What have you learned about Maartje's job?

I think her job is very diverse. She deals with a variety of different organisations. For example, she told me that NWO had introduced measures to redistribute research funding. She clearly had her own opinions about that. Maartje negotiates with different parties and I think she knows precisely who’s involved in what. We also talked about the Global Young Academy, a worldwide community of young researchers who share their experiences with one another. I immediately thought ‘Would this be something for my institute to get involved in?’ After all, we’re a very international organisation, with researchers from eighteen different countries.

What do you, as P&O team leader, think of Maartje’s career?

Maartje received her PhD for her study of schizophrenia at Utrecht University Medical Centre. Her job at the Academy is in fact a lateral career move. It’s fascinating to hear what she has to say about it. We talked about the extreme pressure of work in that context too, how difficult the long road to becoming a full professor is…an all-too-familiar story, unfortunately.

How did you find participating in the Job Shadow Days?

It struck me as a very good initiative. Once you’ve got to know someone, it’s easier to get in touch with them again. I also really enjoy showing people around the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. It might be a bit secluded and inconspicuous, but great and wonderful things happen here. Would you like a guided tour of the facilities sometime?