The Young Academy Groningen has appointed eight new members from diverse disciplines at the University of Groningen. Prof. Ming Cao, Dr Simon Friederich, Dr Joost Keizer, Dr Sonja Pyott, Dr Gert Stulp, Dr Susanne Täuber and Dr Marieke van Vugt were selected by a committee and Dr Erin Wilson joins by virtue of her membership of the Dutch National Young Academy. The new members will be officially installed in a ceremony on the evening of 18 September 2017.
The Young Academy Groningen is a club for the University’s most talented, enthusiastic and ambitious young researchers. Its members come from all disciplines and have a passion for science and an interest in science policy, interdisciplinarity, diversity, internationalization, outreach, leadership and career development in academia.
Ming Cao is Professor of Networks and Robotics at the Engineering and Technology Institute Groningen (ENTEG). Cao trained as an electrical engineer and has a great interest in building mathematical models for complex systems. Within the Young Academy, he will promote the engineering profile of the University and consider matters from the viewpoint of an engineering researcher. Cao grew up in China, studied in the US and now works in the Netherlands. He will draw from his own international experience to strengthen the Young Academy’s role as a unique platform for internationalization.
Simon Friederich is Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Science at University College Groningen and the Faculty of Philosophy. His main research areas are the philosophy of science, notably the foundations of physics, the philosophy of mathematics, and epistemology. Friederich hopes to contribute to the Young Academy (notably to its outreach and interdisciplinarity initiatives) with his core scientific expertise and further academic interests, which range from Greek and Roman classical antiquity to human evolution and its impact on our minds.
Joost Keizer is Assistant Professor of Art History and Director of Curatorial Studies. His work focuses on early modern European art (roughly the period 1400-1800), and mostly concerns the way in which art determines our perception of life. As a member of the Young Academy Groningen, he would like to further strengthen the ties between art and science. His model is the early modern display of artworks alongside scientific discoveries and objects. Keizer’s aim is not to recreate these assemblies but instead to think of new relationships between art and science that address the questions we ask of scholarship and science today.
In her research at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the UMCG, Sonja Pyott employs a variety of genetic, molecular and physiological approaches to investigate the molecular function of the ear. Pyott looks forward to working with the other members of the Young Academy to increase the interdisciplinary impact of research and research training in the auditory sciences. She also hopes to make the public more aware of the societal relevance of the research and scholarship activities of the Young Academy, to promote policy that maintains and increases diversity in the academic community and to foster international activities within the academic community.
Gert Stulp is a sociologist with his roots in evolutionary biology. His research centres on the variation in the number of children people have and desire, looking at how characteristics such as education and wealth come into play, as well as how people in our social networks influence our decisions. Within the Young Academy Groningen, Stulp hopes to focus on scientific quality at the University and making the University a pleasant workplace for all, young researchers in particular. He also hopes to combat the ‘publish or perish’ culture that currently has a grasp on science and thus reduce the stress on early career academics. To do so, he will focus his efforts on open science and reproducibility as well as on changing University policy.
Why do people choose not to conform to societal norms? To find out why, Susanne Täuber studies the role of morality and identity. She has discovered that moralizing rhetoric is a potent trigger of defensiveness. Citizens may strategically refuse to conform to society’s norms if they feel they need to protect their moral identity. This defensive strategy, which Täuber terms motivated inaction, and the dynamics that unfold from it, undermines societal cohesion and solidarity. Her goal is to develop policy and communication strategies that motivate people instead of triggering defensiveness. Täuber, who herself collaborates closely across scientific fields, aims to promote interdisciplinary learning communities during her time at the Young Academy.
Marieke van Vugt is a computational cognitive neuroscientist and an assistant professor in the Department of Artificial Intelligence. She uses computational models to understand how the brain implements cognitive functions such as attention, memory and decision-making, and is particularly fascinated by the question of how mind-wandering affects our cognitive function. As a member of the Young Academy, Van Vugt will use her experience in multidisciplinary projects to connect with other scientists at the University of Groningen. She hopes to help build networks of young scientists who will support each other on the tenure track, and also hopes to communicate the Young Academy’s work to the outside world.
Erin Wilson is Director of the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain. Her research explores ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ dynamics in global justice, human rights, migration, gender and development. As a member of the Young Academy, she hopes to contribute to initiatives that serve the University and the broader community, in particular on diversity and equality in education and society, human rights and inclusivity.
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