Ten outstanding new members of the Young Academy

24 November 2011

The Young Academy, an independent section of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, has added ten outstanding scientists and scholars to its membership. The Young Academy is a dynamic and innovative platform of top young scientists and scholars that selects its members for their research excellence, interdisciplinary approach, and broad interest in science and science communication.

The latest group of new members will be inducted on 16 March 2012 during an official ceremony held in.

The ten new members of the Young Academy are:

Dr Hilde Bras (Sociology/history, Radboud University)
Hilde Bras (born in 1968) bases her interdisciplinary, comparative research into family relationships, kinship, and demographic behaviour on theories and methods drawn from family history, demography, sociology, and anthropology. She uses large databases drawing on historical records and qualitative sources such as ego-documents and folktales. Bras also regularly communicates her research results to a larger audience in the form of films, exhibitions, presentations, and publications.

Dr Antoine Buyse (Human rights/international law, Utrecht University)
After taking a degree in history, Antoine Buyse (born in 1977) obtained his PhD in an entirely different field, i.e. the study of law. The subject of his dissertation, human rights in conflict/post-conflict areas, is a common thread in his research. In addition to an impressive list of scholarly publications, Buyse also writes a blog on the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (echrblog.blogspot.com). He is the co-founder and president of the Critical Mass foundation, which works with teenagers to explore the underlying social processes of conflict escalation, group formation, and identity.

Prof. Joris Dik (Chemistry/art history, Delft University of Technology)
How can we examine works of art without damaging them? That is the key question being investigated by Joris Dik (born in 1974), whose research straddles the dividing line between science and the humanities. For example, Dik has developed methods to make a painting’s underlying layers visible. His approach may shed new light on the oeuvre of such masters as Rembrandt and Van Gogh, both of whom consistently reused their canvases. Dik has published in journals in both the sciences and the humanities and in magazines targeting the museum sector and museum professionals. His research has featured regularly on Dutch television.

Dr Jeroen Geurts (Clinical neuroscience, VU University Medical Centre)
Neurobiologist Jeroen Geurts (born in 1978) heads a successful and productive research group at the VU University Medical Centre and has also authored two popular-science bestsellers (Over de kop and Kopstukken). His research on neurodegenerative and cognitive disorders has an outstanding international reputation. Geurts’s books, columns, and lectures also bridge the gap between scientific research and the general public. Geurts is the founder and director of Brein in Beeld (www.breininbeeld.org), a foundation that encourages scientists to engage in public debate.

Dr Femius Koenderink (Experimental physics, FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics)
Femius Koenderink (born in 1976) is a talented and creative scientist who is fascinated by light. He is currently studying the transmission of light beams at nano-scale. Koenderink has built up an active and successful research group and his work has received worldwide recognition. He has also shown himself eager to introduce children to the art and science of light. For example, he was one of the initiators of 'the Light Atelier', a laboratory for children (from 3 to 7 years of age) focusing on light and colour.

Prof. Maaike Kroon (Separation technology, Eindhoven University of Technology)
Maaike Kroon (born in 1980) became the Netherlands’ youngest female professor when she was appointed professor of Separation Technology in 2010. Her field is important in our efforts to deal differently with energy in order to achieve a sustainable society. Kroon’s research focuses on developing new energy-efficient separation processes and materials for sustainable energy storage. In addition to her research, Kroon also helped set up the Next Generation Network, a branch of the VNO-NCW enterprise organisation for young professionals working in the industrial sector.

Dr Erik Kwakkel (Palaeography/codicology, University of Leiden)
Erik Kwakkel (born in 1970) goes beyond the limits in his much-discussed research – both figuratively and literally. In his current research into social evolution and manuscript innovation in the twelfth century, he is working with a research group in the US that is exposing the roots of modern medicine. Interdisciplinary and international in approach, he describes his research as a hybrid between the spirit of history and the material world of the manuscript as a physical object.

Dr Mirjam Leunissen (Physics/physical chemistry, FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics)
Mirjam Leunissen (born in 1979) had already chipped away at various key dogmas of physics as a PhD student. Since then, she has studied how synthetic DNA can serve as a “smart” adhesive for creating new nanomaterials. Her new research group at FOM-AMOLF studies multiple weak bonds in soft matter, for example as a model for receptor recognition between human cells. It is a topic that touches on many scientific disciplines, and her habit of collaborating with people in diverse research environments emphasises the interdisciplinary nature of her research. In addition, she frequently gives lectures and writes articles targeting lay persons, students, pupils, and teachers.

Prof. Alexander Sack (Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University)
What is the relationship between the human brain and behaviour, perception, and cognition? That is the question that occupies Alexander Sack (born in 1972), who has set up two research laboratories at Maastricht University and coordinates his own line of research. As a psychologist and neuroscientist, Sack collaborates with research groups specialising in rehabilitation and neurology but also with forensic investigators. He is also closely involved as an academic advisor in the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, whose membership consists exclusively of outstanding students with a wide-ranging interest in science and society.

Dr Matthijs van Veelen (Econometrics, University of Amsterdam)
Why do we find something fair or unfair? And why are we able to think beyond our own interests and take those of others into account? Econometrist Matthijs van Veelen (born in 1972) studies the evolution of altruism and morality. In his research, he draws on evolutionary game theory, the application of classical game theory (economics) to populations of life forms in biology. He is also an arranger and musical director of the Philharmonic Funk Foundation, a 44-member funk orchestra that he co-founded.