The Young Academy announces ten new members

12 December 2016

Every year The Young Academy selects ten talented new researchers to add to its ranks. In addition to their proven research excellence, Young Academy members 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 8 June 2017 in Amsterdam.

The ten new members of The Young Academy are:

Dr Celia Berkers (biochemistry and cell biology, Utrecht University)

In her research, Celia Berkers (born 1980) uses mass spectrometry to study the metabolism of cancer and immune cells. She investigates the effect of drugs that inhibit proteasomes (protein complexes that degrade damaged proteins in cells) in cancer. Celia Berkers is also exploring how to control the immune system by intervening in the metabolism of specific immune cells. She organises debates and symposiums and lobbies for the interests of young researchers. She further aims to visit primary and secondary schools to talk to pupils about research issues and questions.

Dr Quentin Bourgeois (archaeology, Leiden University)

Quentin Bourgeois (born 1982) studies the Corded Ware culture. Five thousand years ago, these groups constructed kilometre-long rows of burial mounds between the Volga and the Rhine. They show that people who populated the region stretching from the Russian steppe to the Dutch Veluwe region were not only closely related genetically but also shared a common identity. Bourgeois studies this relationship and sees it as a shared source of cultures and identities today. He is working with the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities and the municipality of Epe on new presentation methods using augmented and virtual reality to display the results of his research.

Prof. Lude Franke (genetics and bio-informatics, University Medical Centre Groningen)

Lude Franke (born 1980) uses statistics, biology and information science to track down DNA patterns and defects in genetic disorders. He advocates open access and open data combined with personal data protection. Franke is eager to make complex and large quantities of data comprehensible for larger audiences; in addition to his research, he is also a graphic designer.

Dr Arjan Houtepen (physical chemistry, solid state chemistry, nanomaterials, Delft University of Technology)

Arjan Houtepen (born 1979) uses nanotechnology to study how to construct more energy-efficient lamps and screens and better solar cells. He researches colloidal nanomaterials that take on new properties when the shape of their molecules is altered. He is keen to develop products of practical use, but is also a strong advocate of basic research.

Dr Merel Keijzer (applied linguistics, English language, University of Groningen)

Merel Keijzer (born 1980) specialises in bilingualism. She studies how migration affects a person’s native language, what it means to grow old in an environment where one’s mother tongue is not spoken, and how the brain acquires a foreign language. Her research combines linguistics, psychology and neurosciences. She uses neuroimaging to study how the brain processes language. She would like to promote this interdisciplinary approach.

Dr Jeroen de Ridder (philosophy, VU University Amsterdam)

For Jeroen de Ridder (born 1978), the meaning of scientific knowledge is an important philosophical subject. He has written about the effects of ‘scientism’, i.e. the view that science is the only genuine source of knowledge about humankind and the universe. In his current research project, ‘Knowledgeable Democracy’, De Ridder combines epistemology and political philosophy. He also publishes on the core responsibilities of universities and takes an interest in useful ‘output measures’, career policies and agenda-setting in research. De Ridder writes a column for

Dr Hester den Ruijter (experimental cardiology, University Medical Centre Utrecht)

Hester den Ruijter (born 1979) works in the field of experimental cardiology. She uses her research to bridge the gap between basic research and clinical application. She is investigating why cardiovascular diseases manifest differently in men and women. The focus of her teaching and her media campaigns is women in cardiology.

Dr Frans Snik (astronomy, Leiden University)

Astronomer Frans Snik (born 1979) develops and uses new optical techniques (such as coronagraphy, spectroscopy and polarimetry) to observe and analyse light from the deep recesses of the universe. His aim is to see – in the most literal sense – whether there are any habitable planets circulating stars other than our Sun, and to discover whether life exists there. He is eager to share his expertise in citizen-science projects, such as the iSPEX programme, in which ordinary people use their smartphones to measure fine dust in the air. Frans Snik is enthusiastic about engaging in dialogue with non-scientists and he also works with artists. He collaborated with Daan Roosegaarde on a work of light art, Rainbow Station, which was projected on to Amsterdam’s central railway station in 2014.

Dr Kristine Steenbergh (English literature, environmental humanities, VU University Amsterdam)

Kristine Steenbergh (born 1976) studies the cultural history of the emotions, especially anger, revenge and compassion. She connects them to contemporary social themes such as the refugee crisis and gender relationships. Her current research concerns the role of emotion, literature and culture in the Anthropocene. As a member of The Young Academy, she would like to work on improving research policy, in particular by emphasising the importance of trust, collaboration, diversity and quality.

Dr Erin Wilson (political science, religious studies, University of Groningen)

Erin Wilson (born 1979) combines religious studies and international relations. She has developed the ‘relational dialogism’ model, which offers a way of rethinking the role and meaning of religion in international relations. She intends her work to be of practical value for politicians and policymakers. She writes an internationally acclaimed blog, The Religion Factor. She also co-edited The Refugee Crisis and Religion and is director of the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain.