Ten new members to join the Young Academy

21 December 2010

Ten new members will soon join the Young Academy. They are researchers working in a variety of different disciplines who have been selected for their scientific achievements and received their PhDs less than ten years ago.

The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences set up the Young Academy in 2005 in order to foster communication between young researchers working in different disciplines. The Young Academy organises interdisciplinary scientific conferences, expresses its opinion on various social and political themes, and works to promote an interest in science among the general public.

Each year a committee that includes members of the Young Academy and the Royal Netherlands Academy select ten new Young Academy members, based on recommendations from the research community. New members are selected for their scientific excellence, interdisciplinary approach and wide-ranging interest in science. Members leave the Young Academy after five years. After the new members are appointed, the Young Academy will have eighty members.

The new members of the Young Academy are:

Prof. André Aleman (Cognitive science, Groningen University Medical Centre)
>André Aleman (1975) is professor of cognitive neuropsychiatry at Groningen University Medical Centre and director of the BCN-UMCG research school. His research focuses on understanding and explaining psychiatric disorders of observation, for example hallucination in schizophrenics. He has used fMRI scans to show that when people imagine that they are hearing voices, the same regions of the brain are active as when they hear real voices. Aleman also investigates the brain functions involved in observation and emotions.<p>

Prof. Monica Claes (European and comparative constitutional law, Tilburg University)
>Monica Claes (1968) is professor of European and comparative constitutional law at Tilburg University and studies the interaction between European and national constitutional law. Claes focuses in particular on comparative research, seeking to identify the principles that may form the basis for the constitutionalisation of Europe. She also investigates the position of the European and national courts and their relationship to political bodies. Claes received the award for best dissertation on constitutional law by the prestigious Dutch law society Staatsrechtkring<em>.

Prof. Paul Groot (Astronomy, Radboud University Nijmegen)
>Paul Groot (1971) is professor of astronomy and head of the Astronomy Department at Radboud University Nijmegen. Groot has achieved several scientific breakthroughs, has opened new areas of scientific research and developed important tests for space travel. In 1997, he was the first to use an optical telescope to observe the counterpart of a gamma-ray burst, the 'afterglow' with which the Gamma flash 'betrays' itself. His observation represented a significant breakthrough in unravelling the mysteries of gamma-ray bursts. Groot is one of the driving forces behind the European project EGAPS, whose purpose is to develop a detailed map of the Milky Way.<p>

Dr Marie-José Goumans (Molecular cell biology, Leiden University Medical Centre)
>Marie-José Goumans (1968) investigates the use of stem cells in repairing the heart after a heart attack. After a heart attack, damaged heart muscles and blood vessels must both be repaired. Goumans studies how to use the stem cells of auricles - tiny pieces of the heart that can be removed without causing problems - to build the best heart muscle cells. Marie-José Goumans takes a broad interest in science and society. Each year she devotes some of her time to teaching classes on stem cells and regenerative medicine at Dutch secondary schools.<p>

Dr Tjerk Oosterkamp (Natural Science, Leiden University)
>Tjerk Oosterkamp (1972) heads a research group that studies the application of probe microscopy, for example to make individual proteins in cell membranes visible. As a PhD student, he was the first to unravel the secrets of the miniscule pillars that contain the electrons. In addition, he developed a new set of molecular imaging devices that operate at video speed. Oosterkamp has published in such leading journals as Nature<em> and Science. Among his other distinctions, he has received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council for his research.

Dr Appy Sluijs (Paleoclimatology, Utrecht University)
>Appy Sluijs (1980) investigates the relationship between CO2 and the earth's climate. He has discovered that the greenhouse gas disaster that led to the extinction of many aquatic species 55 million years ago was the result of a climate chain reaction. In 2007, he and his colleagues won the Academic Annual Prize, which they used to develop a teaching method on climate change. Sluijs participates actively in the wide-ranging scientific and public debate about the climate and energy. He has authored six articles published in Nature<em> and Science.

Dr Marika Taylor (Theoretical physics, Amsterdam University)
>Marika Taylor (1974) studied under Stephen Hawking at Cambridge University and works for the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Amsterdam University. She is interested in the physics of black holes, which are important for the development of quantum gravity. In 2008, Taylor won the FOM Foundation's Minerva Prize for an article covering the microscopic description of the physics of black holes. The Minerva Prize is awarded to the best scientific publication by a woman on physics.<p>

Dr Peter-Paul Verbeek (Philosophy of Technology, Twente University)
>Peter-Paul Verbeek (1970) investigates the relationship between humans and technology and the ambiguous line between the two. Are humans and technology merging too far over the line of what can be called 'human', or have human beings always been intertwined with technology? Verbeek studies which human and ethical approaches can be used to guide the latest technological advances. He has achieved a prominent international position within the philosophy of technology. His book What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency and Design<em> has been very well received and widely reviewed.

Prof. Claes de Vreese (Communication Science, Amsterdam University)
>Claes de Vreese (1974) has been professor of Communication Science at Amsterdam University since 2005. He is also the Academic Director of the Amsterdam School of Communications Research at the same university. De Vreese studies political journalism, election campaigns and the content and impact of the news media on public opinion and behaviour. In 2004, he forecast that the Netherlands would reject the European constitution in 2005, based on analyses of public opinion. Claes de Vreese is a prolific author and has published a large number of articles in leading international journals.<p>

Dr Gijs Wuite (Biophysics, VU University Amsterdam)
>Gijs Wuite (1972) studies the interface between natural science and biology. His research group has succeeded in taking apart a bacterial chromosome using a laser-beam microtweezer. The group has shown how an important protein holds strands of bacterial DNA together. Their technique has made it possible to explain for the first time how bacterial DNA, which appears to be a chaotic jumble, is tidily organised and capable of functioning dynamically. Wuite chairs the committee that will overhaul VU University's natural science programmes in order to make them more appealing to a broader student population.<p>

The new members of the Young Academy will be installed on Thursday 26 March 2009 during a special meeting at the Trippenhuis Building, the Royal Netherlands Academy's headquarters in Amsterdam.