Honorable visit to Groningen University

Organised by Wageningen Young Academy

Mon 4 July 2016

Inauguration of the Young Academy Groningen on 4 July 2016

Pictures by David Vroom Photography, text Gerlinde De Deyn

Although I have been living in The Netherlands for quite a few years now, I must confess that my visits to the north of The Netherlands are rather rare. Of course I know that also up north there is a well-known university with great ecologists, namely University of Groningen. Typically I meet the colleagues from Groningen at national or international conferences and not in the city center of Groningen.

No wonder I had never been in the headquarters of the University of Groningen, but that was about to change with the invitation to present in the Senates Room of the university to celebrate the birth of the Young Academy Groningen!

On 4th of July the Young Academy Groningen (YAG), comprising 17 members, from 7 different Faculties was inaugurated. What a diversity! The members comprise excellent scientists in Arts, Law, Medical Sciences, Philosophy, Spatial Sciences, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Theology and Religious Studies.

The laureates of the Young Academy Groningen (left). Gerlinde presenting the Wageningen Young Academy in the Senates Room of Groningen University (right).

The members of the YAG are selected based on both their excellent academic achievements and their enthusiasm towards developing broader academic perspectives, such as science policy, outreach, diversity and internationalization, and cross disciplinary research. A very similar set of skills, interests and attidudes as we look for in Wageningen for perspective members of the Wageningen Young Academy (WYA).

The WYA was initiated in 2011 and hence is one of the oldest local young academies in The Netherlands. I am happy to be one of the first members and since the last years also co-chair of the WYA, hence the invitation of the University of Groningen to tell a bit more about WYA. During the last five years we as WYA have been able to build a Wageningen University wide network across all science groups, to brainstorm and provide feeback on each others (personal) grant proposals, and organize a number of public events. Perhaps you have been to some of them? The discussion about gender (in)balance at WUR in 2012, the public lecture of Prof. Frans de Waal (2013), the discussion about the future of science with Prof. Hans Clevers and the interview with Bill Gates (2014), and this year the public lectures by nobel laureate Prof. Ada Yonath and by Heineken prijs winners Prof. Jennifer Doudna and Dr. Edze Westra.

The terms of membership are five years and hence it will soon be time for me to make space for new, younger members. If you are a young tenure-track resercher at wur I can recommend applying, it is a great group of clever and enthousiastic people who are keen to go the extra mile!

Fine mix of Young Academy Groningen and Wageningen Young Academy members (left). Rector of University of Groningen Elmer Sterken, chair of De Jonge Akademie Rens Vliegenthart and Gerlinde De Deyn chair of the Wageningen Young Academy discussing about the Young Academies (right).

Curoius about what these academies are about? Take a look at their websites:

·         Young Academy Groningen (YAG)

·         Wageningen Young Academy (WYA)

·         De Jonge Akademie (DJA)