Ten talented researchers elected to the Young Academy

6 November 2013

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

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 20 March 2014 during an official ceremony held in the Royal Academy’s Trippenhuis Building.

The ten new members of the Young Academy are:

Dr Annemieke Aartsma-Rus (Department of Human Genetics, Leiden University Medical Centre)
Annemieke Aartsma-Rus (born in 1977) played an important role in developing a new treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a subject that has interested her since her PhD research. In 2011, she received the Duchenne Award for making scientific research comprehensible to parents and patients and for helping them find their way through masses of information. She lectures regularly and maintains a website with news about her work intended for a broader readership.

Dr Annelien Bredenoord (Department of Medical Ethics, University Medical Centre Utrecht)
The overriding theme in Annelien Bredenoord’s (born in 1979) career is the link between biomedical science, ethics and politics. She is interested in questions concerning new, often controversial technologies, for example stem cell research, genetics and biobanks, and consistently seeks collaboration with other disciplines in her work. She has been a member of the Young Health Council of the Netherlands, advises on healthcare policy, and sits on various ethical committees. She was recently invited to participate in a seminar in Qatar examining Islamic principles of bioethics.

Prof. Ewout Frankema (Rural and Environmental History Group, Wageningen University & Research Centre)
With a background in economics, history and philosophy, Ewout Frankema (born in 1974) has a unique research signature focusing on the quest for the historical roots of poverty and wealth. He has received an ERC Starting Grant for his current research project, which measures and analyses long-term trends in welfare in sub-Saharan Africa. He is also working with an international research team on developing open-access educational materials that will support the teaching of history in Africa.

Dr Nathalie Katsonis (Biomolecular Nanotechnology Group, Smart and Bio-inspired Materials, University of Twente)
Nathalie Katsonis (born in 1978) is interested in the development of smart materials whose structure and function are inspired by biology. For example, she and her team study materials that mimic the mechanical movements of plants. As a successful female researcher and the author of various papers in Nature, she has encouraged young women in her field by participating in the “Women in Chemistry” event. She believes in providing effective public information, specifically about nanotechnology, in order to boost public support and enthusiasm for scientific research.

Dr Hanneke van Laarhoven (Department of Medical Oncology, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam)
With a PhD in both medicine and religious studies, Hanneke van Laarhoven (born in 1973) is a staunch advocate of interdisciplinarity. In her quest for new, better treatment options for cancer patients, she seeks collaboration with both the sciences and the humanities. Van Laarhoven is one of the creators of a database that contains clinical data, biomaterials and patient self-reports. The database makes it possible to link the biological markers of specific tumours to the way in which patients rate their “quality of life” with cancer.

Prof. Christian Lange (Research Institute for Philosophy and Religious Studies, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Utrecht University)
Christian Lange (born in 1975) is a leading researcher worldwide, part of a new generation of Islamic studies scholars. After receiving his PhD at Harvard, he taught Islamic studies there and at Edinburgh University. He is interested in the major themes of Islamic studies, for example legal theories (including punishment) and representations of the hereafter. Alongside the “traditional” text-based approach, he uses methods borrowed from religious studies, cultural anthropology and philosophy. His vast international network allows him to propose alternative perspectives drawn from other scientific cultures in policy-related discussions.

Prof. Tine de Moor (Department of Social and Economic History, Utrecht University)
Tine de Moor (born in 1975) studies institutions for collective action, an interest that is right in step with the current lively debate about the rise of “citizens’ collectives". The term stands for all sorts of citizen-run facilities, for example in the energy sector and healthcare, and is linked to discussions about shrinking government and the failure of the free market. The debate can be enriched by considering the historical perspective, in keeping with De Moor’s efforts to use the discipline of history to study society. Trained as an historian and ecologist, she believes that interdisciplinarity is one of the strengths of her approach.

Dr Diederik Roest (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Theoretical High-Energy Physics/String Cosmology Group, University of Groningen)
Diederik Roest (born in 1977) is interested in the mathematical properties of string theory, but enjoys testing abstract theory experimentally. For example, he is studying how string existence could be proved by observations at the largest distance scales, such as cosmic background radiation. Roest hopes that the Planck space observatory’s latest measurements will offer clues as to whether string theory actually does play a role in nature. Diederik Roest is passionate about explaining complex science to laypersons in order to build trust in research.

Prof. Barbara Vis (Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Political Decision-making, VU University Amsterdam)
Barbara Vis (born in 1979) is an economist and political scientist. Her research combines insights from differing disciplines in order to study high-risk decision-making by political actors at various levels (politicians, political parties, and governments) on salient issues (welfare state reform and military interventions). Vis established her reputation in the social sciences by applying and refining a new type of comparative method.

Prof. Rens Vliegenthart (Department of Communication Science, Amsterdam University)
Rens Vliegenthart (born in 1980) is one of the most productive researchers in his field. Since receiving his PhD, he has studied the role of the media in politics and society. His research straddles the boundary between communication science, political science and sociology. Vliegenthart has convincingly demonstrated that the use of digital technology can increase the analytical capacity of social scientists. In 2012, he published a popular work in Dutch (title: U kletst uit uw nek, i.e. “You’re talking nonsense”) surveying the relationship between Dutch politics, the media and the electorate over the past fifty years.