Ten new top researchers join The Young Academy

20 November 2012

Every year the Young Academy selects ten new pioneering 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.

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 19 March 2013 during an official ceremony held at the Royal Academy’s Trippenhuis Building.

The ten new members of the Young Academy are:

Dr Teun Bousema (Infectious Diseases/Epidemiology, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen)
Malaria still claims countless victims in Africa, including many small children. Teun Bousema (born in 1977), one of the most active young Dutch researchers in the field of tropical medicine, parasitology and infectious diseases, has devoted himself to malaria research. His publications have helped fuel international discussion of the best methods for treating and eradicating this infectious disease. Bousema is active in various international think tanks for malaria research and played an important role in setting up the Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute in Tanzania. He has also developed lesson material to teach secondary school pupils about infectious diseases and medical research. 

Prof. Andrea Evers (Medical Psychology, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen) 
Clinical psychologist Andrea Evers (born in 1967) asks innovative questions at the interface between different scientific disciplines, for example behavioural science and biomedicine. She specialises in the psychobiology of somatic disorders. One of her aims is to understand the interaction between physical and psychological processes in chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism or psoriasis and to develop innovative treatments based on that knowledge. Evers focuses her efforts on communicating scientific knowledge to society, supporting interdisciplinary science policy accommodating both fundamental and applied research, and encouraging patient participation in medical research. 

Prof. Hilde Geurts (Clinical Neuropsychology, University of Amsterdam)
Neuropsychologist Hilde Geurts (born in 1972) welcomes the challenge of combining scientific research and patient care. That combination makes it possible for her to apply the results of fundamental research in mental healthcare, and vice versa. Her 'unusual' decision to investigate differences and similarities between ADHD and autism has now become the standard approach in the research on these developmental disorders. Her investigation of ageing and autism is also generating a great deal of interest in international circles. She and her colleagues are working together to develop interventions for people with autism. 

Dr Marijke Haverkorn (Astronomy, Radboud University Nijmegen/Leiden Observatory) 
Astronomer Marijke Haverkorn (born in 1974) is passionate about astronomy and keen to communicate that passion to the public. Her aim is to comprehend the workings of the Milky Way’s magnetic field, one of the priorities of the fast-growing discipline of cosmic magnetism. Tremendous progress can be made in this area with the help of a new generation of radio telescopes and Haverkorn is actively involved in developing LOFAR, the biggest radio telescope in the world. She is on the editorial board of www.natuurkunde.nl and has organised 'Girls Days' to interest more girls in science and technology.

Dr Lotte Jensen (Dutch Language and Literature, Radboud University Nijmegen)
What do sources of cultural history such as literary texts tell us about the creation of a national identity, Dutch cultural roots, and the position of the Netherlands in Europe? This is one of the main questions that Lotte Jensen (born in 1972) addresses in her research, which encompasses the cultural history of Western Europe, the creation of national identity, and Dutch literature. Her most recent research explores how periods of war and peace in Dutch history have influenced the formation of the Dutch national identity. Her original, innovative approach has already earned her an award, a research grant, and a guest professorship in Ghent, Belgium. 

Prof. Rianne Letschert (International Law and Victimology, INTERVICT/Tilburg University) 
Most victimology research – a field that is interdisciplinary almost by definition – concerns the victims of ordinary crime in the West. Rianne Letschert (born in 1976) is innovative because she focuses on people who are the victims of mass human rights violations or even genocide/attempted genocide. In collaboration with other researchers, she recently launched a study of recovery measures after mass victimisation in the Arab world. In addition to her professorship, Letschert is the deputy director of the upcoming research institute INTERVICT and is also active in science communication for young people. This year her university presented her with its award for the 'Top Female Role Model in Science'. 

Prof. Herman Paul (Historiography and Philosophy of History, Leiden University, Secularisation Studies, University of Groningen)
What personality traits should a good scholar possess? The research conducted by historian Herman Paul (born in 1978) into the character of the scholar has provoked considerable comment. He is keen to seek international cooperation for his study and has explained to the media why this project is relevant in the fight against research fraud. The main question explored in his research is: what is scholarship (i.e. historiography) and how can it best be pursued? Paul has published two collections of interviews with researchers in other fields in which they give detailed descriptions of their conceptual and practical methods. It is a genre that he is keen to expand on in future. 

Prof. Sjoerd Repping (Human Reproductive Biology, AMC, University of Amsterdam)
Sjoerd Repping (born in 1974) is a top international researcher in human reproductive medicine. He is capable of taking observations in fundamental research – for example concerning the genetic causes of male infertility – and using them at very short notice to produce relevant improvements in treatment. One striking example is that he has made it possible to protect the fertility of young boys undergoing chemotherapy. Repping is a vigorous participant in the public debate about new fertility treatments and the use of stem cells. In that sense as well, he serves as a role model for a new generation of young researchers. 

Dr Willem Schinkel (Sociology, Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Willem Schinkel (born in 1976) is not only an innovative sociologist with a huge international network, but also sets an outstanding example of knowledge transfer – so much so that his students elected him Instructor of the Year in 2011. Schinkel is convinced that science must contribute to resolving public issues. His current research project, which has EU support, focuses on the three major themes of this century: the migration crisis, the economic crisis, and the ecological crisis. One of the questions he is considering is how climate scientists can deal more effectively with controversy. Schinkel was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge, New York University, an appointment that suited his desire to focus on the public importance of research.

Prof. Irene Tieleman (Animal Ecology, University of Groningen)
Ecologist Irene Tieleman (born in 1973) already developed her own line of research when she was a student. That research is now regarded worldwide as unique. She studies how birds live and survive in a wide variety of habitats, and how they cope when those habitats change. She is fascinated by the interaction between the organism and the habitat, and makes ample use of insights outside the field of ecology to analyse adaptation mechanisms. For example, by using electronics miniaturisation, she has gained a better understanding of avian thermodynamics in the sweltering heat of the desert. As a Rosalind Franklin Fellow at her university, she is very conscious of the importance of female role models for talented young researchers.