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Ten new members for The Young Academy

December 14, 2022

This year too, ten new members are joining. They represent the full breadth of science and scholarship. Their research covers a variety of topics ranging from climate justice to cellular interactions or Islamic intellectual history.  

The ten researchers will be officially installed as members of The Young Academy on Tuesday 28 March 2023. During their five-year membership, they will champion projects focusing on science policy, interdisciplinarity, internationalisation, and the relationship between science and society.

The new members are:

Bieke Cattoor (landscape architecture and urban planning, Delft University of Technology)

Bieke Cattoor studies how landscape is captured in images, focusing on everyday urban environments. She not only analyses but also designs herself, contributing practically to more liveable, sustainable, and resilient cities. Cattoor is currently working with citizen scientists and urban stakeholders on a new visualisation of the Randstad conurbation as a complex of gardens, with local residents acting as the gardeners of a more social and ecological living environment. Within The Young Academy, she represents the designing sciences, and aims to promote a more diverse approach to knowledge creation and communication.

Pieter Coppens (Islamic Studies, VU University Amsterdam)

How have communities formed around the sacred source texts of Islam in the course of the centuries? Pieter Coppens studies Islamic intellectual history. He is currently working on a monograph on the rise of “Salafist” hermeneutics at the beginning of the 20th century. In it, he describes a reorientation towards stricter rules for interpreting the main Islamic sources, namely the Koran and the Sunna. He shows how the rapid advance of education and the ready availability of books led to a narrowing and hardening of religious discourse, supplanting the traditional broader orientation towards the Islamic tradition.

Scott Douglas (public management, Utrecht University)

Scott Douglas believes that mistakes made by public authorities should be exposed, but their successes should be highlighted too. This will prevent doom-mongering about the problems we need to solve as a society. Douglas sets a good example himself by studying cases of successful collaboration between authorities and civil society organisations concerning thorny problems such as radicalisation, functional illiteracy, and child abuse. He heads innovative projects in which scientists, students, authorities, and citizens jointly test innovative solutions. He shares the lessons learned via teaching and freely accessible databases. Alongside his work as a researcher, he is also active in actual practice as director of the audit office for the Dutch town of Almere.

Max van Duijn (linguistics and artificial intelligence, Leiden University)

Most people are well able to empathise with others and to imagine the world from different perspectives. Max van Duijn studies this capacity for “reading thoughts” in the natural context of human language and interaction. Using techniques from the data sciences and artificial intelligence, he analyses how children and adults adopt the perspectives of other people and elaborate on them in stories, conversations, and other language use. He is also working on computer models of empathy, studying what humans and machines can learn from one another in this area. His research links together the humanities, the hard sciences, and the social sciences.

Kristina Ganzinger (physics of cellular interactions, AMOLF)

The human immune system needs to spring into action when our body is threatened – but only then! In order to decide to do that at the right time, our immune cells need to make direct contact with one another. If we are to understand the molecular processes involved in these cell-to-cell contacts, it is therefore essential for us to understand how immune responses operate . Kristina Ganzinger aims to identify the principles on which immune cells base their decision-making in the case of such contacts. To do so, she utilises advanced microscopy and methods from synthetic biology. In the longer term, this research may reveal new and as yet unknown immune cell interactions, thus bringing us closer to a broader application of immunotherapies to fight cancer.

Léonie de Jonge (European politics and society, University of Groningen)

The rise of radical and far-right movements poses a challenge to the established order. How much attention should politicians and journalists pay to these groups, for example? Léonie de Jonge is studying the rise and insidious normalisation of the far right. She seeks to explain why right-wing populist parties are more successful in some countries and regions than in others. In addition, she has created a guide on the best way for researchers to approach and interview members of this group. As a member of The Young Academy, De Jonge will work to improve career prospects for young researchers.

Rogier Kievit (developmental neurosciences. Radboud University/Radboud University Medical Centre)

How do cognitive skills differ from one person to another? How do they change over the course of life? What explains these differences and changes and how do they affect one another? This is Rogier Kievit's research field, and he seeks answers by applying multivariate statistical methods to large data files. Kievit currently leads research on rapid switches between good and poor cognitive performance in children. As a member of The Young Academy, he intends championing climate initiatives in academia. He also aims to help make scientists feel welcome who come from all over the world to work in the Netherlands.

Vasiliki Kosta (European law, Leiden University)

Universities are increasingly behaving like businesses. They compete with one another, are run like companies and must serve political-economic interests. Vasiliki Kosta explores how this trend relates to the fundamental EU right to freedom of the arts and sciences, which includes the freedom of scientific research and academic freedom. She aims to clarify the content, scope, and philosophical justification of that fundamental right. She also investigates to what extent specific EU legislation and EU and national policies are complied with in this area. As a member of The Young Academy, Kosta will be particularly keen to promote collaboration between the arts and sciences.

Ingrid Leijten (constitutional law, Tilburg University)

What does the Constitution mean for citizens? Ingrid Leijten studies the changing role of fundamental rights against the background of broader issues such as the legitimacy of government intervention, the distribution of powers, the extent to which citizens' interests are reflected in politics (representation), and trust in government. She examines both classic fundamental rights – such as freedom of expression and the right to privacy – and fundamental social rights, such as the right to social security or healthcare. Leijten aims to raise awareness of how a state based on the rule of law functions.

Daphina Misiedjan (human rights and environment, Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Daphina Misiedjan champions the cause of climate justice, for example by investigating the legal barriers to addressing climate challenges in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. She also examines environmental justice in its local context, where air pollution is a factor, for example, as well as access to safe and affordable drinking water. Misiedjan investigates not only what rights apply to whom, but also how communities and individuals use the law in actual practice as a means of achieving their goals. Moreover, she is interested not only in human rights but also nature's rights, such as a river's right to good water quality.

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