Ten new members for The Young Academy

22 November 2018

Ten scientists and scholars working in a variety of disciplines will be inducted into The Young Academy in 2019. These talented researchers share a broad interest in research, science policy and science communication. Membership is for a five-year period. The new members will be inducted on 21 March 2019.

The ten new members are:

Dr Anton Akhmerov (physics, Delft University of Technology)
Physicist Anton Akhmerov (1984) conducts research into quantum mechanical systems and nano-superconductors using computer simulations. He is also interested in open-source software and open data. He developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and has taught thousands of people about topology in quantum mechanics. He also developed ‘Zesje’, software that efficiently and systematically corrects exams, and has received the 2018 Delft Educational Fellowship for this work. Akhmerov is a member of the editorial board of the New Journal of Physics, an open access publication. He wants to use his membership of The Young Academy to contribute to policy changes for science.

Dr Saskia Bonjour (political science, University of Amsterdam)
Political scientist Saskia Bonjour (1980) studies migration and migration policy. Her teaching focuses on gender, racism and intersectionality from a political and historical perspective. Thanks to her interdisciplinary research, she has become an international expert in her field. As a member of The Young Academy, she wants to draw attention to (in)equality at Dutch universities in terms of ethnicity and race, looking in particular at the implications for researchers’ careers.

Dr Helmer Helmers (Early Modern Dutch literature, University of Amsterdam)
Helmer Helmers (1977) studies the history of media and politics. He has written about English-Dutch literary relations in the seventeenth century and has established various national and international partnerships. His current research focuses on the relationship between media and diplomacy (public diplomacy) in Europe in the seventeenth century. He also headed a research project focusing on a recently discovered shipwreck near the Dutch island of Texel that generated considerable media interest. As a member of The Young Academy, Helmers wants to improve the position of the Humanities and advocate for more transparency in the allocation of research grants; he is particularly interested in the debate about ‘excellence’ and the ‘Matthew effect of accumulated advantage’, i.e. the idea that researchers who have already won a grant have a better chance of receiving another.

Dr Nanna Hilton (linguistics, University of Groningen)
Nanna Hilton (1981) specialises in sociolinguistics. She actively involves the public in her research, for example by undertaking research together with non-researchers. She also presents a science podcast and is working on two MOOCs. Hilton helped to develop the Bachelor’s degree programme in Minorities & Multilingualism at the University of Groningen and was part of a small team that set up the Master’s programme in Multilingualism. She intends to continue promoting citizen science projects during her time at The Young Academy, in line with her research.

Prof. Renske Keizer (sociology, Erasmus University)
Renske Keizer (1983) studies the role of the family and in particular the role of fathers in the occurrence and persistence of social inequality. Her research straddles sociology, demography, pedagogical sciences and developmental psychology. In addition to winning several major research grants in recent years, she is also the recipient of the Dutch ‘Bessensap’ Award for the way in which she presents her research to the public. She regularly gives lectures to policymakers and publicises her research in the media. During her time at The Young Academy, she wants to contribute to discussions of science funding, career policy, interdisciplinarity, and indicators and quantifiability.

Dr Selma E. de Mink (astrophysics, University of Amsterdam)
Selma de Mink (1983) conducts research into the astrophysics of massive stars. After obtaining her PhD in 2010, she received three of the world’s most prestigious astronomy fellowships and worked at various institutes, including NASA. She now heads a research group that studies the life of binary stars and the formation of black holes using computer simulations, the latest gravitational wave detections and other methods. De Mink enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for her own field with the public and is dedicated to promoting young women in the field of theoretical astrophysics.

Dr Erik van Sebille (physical oceanography, Utrecht University)
Marine physicist Erik van Sebille (1981) studies how small particles, such as plastic and plankton, move in oceans. He is interested in the influence of ocean currents on the climate, ecosystems and pollution and his work straddles physics, biology and the policy sciences. He also cooperates on the Plastic Tide Citizen-Science Project, in which amateur drone pilots worldwide are documenting plastic pollution on beaches. At The Young Academy, Van Sebille aims to promote more transparent scientific data and methods and the involvement of stakeholders in research.

Dr Stephan Smeekes (economics, Maastricht University)
Stephan Smeekes (1983) is an economist and develops research methods that combine econometrics, statistics and data science. He seeks interaction with other fields and with society in his research, which has added value for other disciplines too. For example, in a collaborative project with climate researchers, his team discovered that econometric techniques for trend breaks and gradual changes are highly suitable for modelling the evolution of atmospheric particles. Smeekes wants to promote interdisciplinary research at The Young Academy as well.

Dr Arne Smeets (mathematics, Radboud University)
Mathematician Arne Smeets (1986) works at the interface of algebra, geometry and number theory. Smeets is regarded as an expert in applying abstract techniques from logarithmic and birational geometry to specific problems in number theory. He has won several teaching awards. He is also devoted to community building in his field. Smeets hopes to contribute to improving science policy by focusing on thematic diversity and by highlighting the importance of smaller disciplines. As part of The Young Academy, Smeets plans to examine whether the existing mechanisms for research funding are effective enough to benefit all disciplines equally.

Dr Marie-José van Tol (psychiatry, neurophysiology and affective and cognitive neurosciences, University Medical Centre Groningen)
Marie-José van Tol (1980) is exploring the role of the brain and cognition in the occurrence and persistence of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, and specific symptoms such as suicidal tendencies. She and her team aim to improve the treatment and prevention of mental disorders by finding ways of predicting which treatment will work best for which individuals. Van Tol is also keen to involve the general public in science and research. Working with the Netherlands Brain Foundation in 2017, she set up a public laboratory that demonstrated that people who are prone to irritability subconsciously focus more on negative than on positive information. During her time at The Young Academy, Van Tol wants to explore the impact that major and minor collaborative grants have on young researchers.