New researchers elected to the Young Academy

25 November 2014

Every year the Young Academy selects ten talented new researchers to add to its ranks. The Young Academy is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. It is an independent platform of leading young researchers that organises activities focusing on interdisciplinarity, science policy, and the interface between science and society. The Young Academy will be celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2015.

In addition to their proven research excellence, members of the Young Academy take a broad interest in science and in science communication. Membership is for a five-year period. The latest group of new members will be inducted on 26 March 2015 during an official ceremony held in the Royal Academy’s Trippenhuis Building.

The ten new members of the Young Academy are:

Prof. Lenneke Alink (Education and child studies, Leiden University/Law, VU University Amsterdam)
In her innovative research on child maltreatment, Lenneke Alink (born 1978) combines insights drawn from education, psychology and law with neurobiological methods with a view to prevention and intervention. Her most recent research focuses on chaos in the family as a source of child maltreatment. In addition to influential international publications, she has authored a number of widely-disseminated Dutch research reports. She is Professor of Forensic Family Studies at Leiden University and Professor of the Prevention and Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect at VU University Amsterdam.

Dr Rafael De Bont (History of Science, Maastricht University)
The main research question addressed by Raf De Bont (born 1977) is how science has influenced modern society and vice versa. He is particularly interested in the history of the life sciences and social sciences in Northwest Europe after 1800. De Bont has shown that the rise of a new scientific workplace, the field laboratory, was crucial to the advent of ecology as a science. His current research, which is deeply interdisciplinary in nature, focuses on the role that ecological experts have played since the 1930s in international nature conservation.

Dr Marieke van den Brink (Business Administration, Radboud University Nijmegen)
Marieke van den Brink (born 1978) studies gender and diversity in organisations (in particular in academia). Her research may help ensure that academic staffing more accurately reflects the complexion of society. Interdisciplinarity and valorisation are the hallmarks of her academic work, which includes research into the talent policy of Dutch universities and an international comparative study of gender in the careers of young academics on temporary contract. Van den Brink regularly gives workshops to executives about gender mechanisms and to female academic staff about how to improve their career opportunities in academia.

Dr Patricia Dankers (Biomaterials, Eindhoven University of Technology)
With a PhD in both bio-engineering and medicine, Patricia Dankers (born 1978) discovered the value of collaboration between chemists and physicians. Her research group attempts to apply the results of basic research in practical patient applications. At the moment she is focusing on developing supramolecular biomaterials that can be used in regenerative medicine. Dankers was a member of the very first Young Health Council [Jonge Gezondheidsraad] and has authored chapters for primary school textbooks.

Dr Rivke Jaffe (Anthropology/Geography, Amsterdam University)
Rivke Jaffe (born 1978) is interested in understanding urban societies and the forces that drive inequality in cities. Why are some urban dwellers disproportionately exposed to urban problems such as poverty, crime and environmental degradation? How does the past – in particular colonialism – shape the cities of today, and how do people use popular culture to express the urban experience? She studies these and other interdisciplinary issues with sociologists, political scientists, historians, art historians, and literary scholars. Her ‘Hiphop University’ makes her research accessible to a wider audience.

Dr Marleen Kamperman (Physical Chemistry, Wageningen University and Research Centre)
For Marleen Kamperman (born 1979), nature is a source of inspiration for the development of new materials, with chemical functions in various biological systems serving as templates. One of her research interests is to develop nanostructured materials that can attach to and detach from every surface, like the ingenious hairy structures on the feet of geckos. In addition to her own research group, Kamperman is active in mentoring programmes for young researchers and gives public lectures.

Dr Floris de Lange (Cognitive Neuroscience, Donders Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen)
Floris de Lange (born 1977) and his research group study how our brain allows us to perceive the world around us. Solving this complex puzzle involves combining psychology and biology, mathematics and physics. De Lange believes science communication is essential to the pursuit of science. He is active in the media and gives public lectures, in both cases in collaboration with artists and others. In 2012, he received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for Cognitive Science for his research on visual perception and motorial imagery.

Prof. Johan van Leeuwaarden (Mathematics and Information Science, Eindhoven University of Technology)
Mathematician Johan van Leeuwaarden (born 1978) researches the behaviour of complex networks, drawing inspiration from practical applications. For example, he studies communication networks such as the internet and logistical and social networks. In order to address issues of major social and scientific relevance, he has co-founded Data Science Center Eindhoven and the ten-year interdisciplinary programme NETWORKS, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). He explains the beauty and importance of mathematics in his columns and public lectures.

Prof. Jan-Willem Veening (Molecular Genetics, University of Groningen)
Jan-Willem Veening (born 1978) and his multidisciplinary team study how Streptococcus pneumoniae – the bacterium responsible for pneumonia and other illnesses – reproduces, becomes a pathogen and develops a resistance to antibiotics. His research combines clever genetic tricks, synthetic biology and advanced microscopy in a way that is altogether unique in the world in his field. Veening is aware of the social impact of his work and regularly contributes to public discussion of synthetic biology, the use of antibiotics and other issues.

Dr Martijn Wieling (Computational Linguistics, University of Groningen)
Wieling (born 1981) combines linguistics with information science and statistics. Because he has narrowed the technical gap between dialectometry and sociolinguistics – two fields that were long separated – it has become possible to identify the interlocking influences of geography and social factors on language variation. He has taken his research into language variation in a new direction by using articulography – the 3D recording of speech-movement inside the mouth – to study tongue and lip movements during speech. This focus could help second-language learners improve their pronunciation in the foreign language. Wieling is a fierce advocate of open access and of sharing data and methods.