Why and when was Young Academy founded?
Van Hoof: ‘It was established in 2012 as a local version of the national Young Academy (KNAW), which is a group of 50 academics with excellent track records that meets to discuss science and related political issues. They influence legislation and voice opinions on regulations impacting the scientific community. Young Academy of the UT is a smaller, local version of this organization. We focus mainly on our university and local policies. However, two of our members are also members of the Young Academy of the KNAW.’
Who are the members of Young Academy of the UT?
Van Hoof: ‘Young Academy currently consists of about 25 people. All of them are successful academics – they are either excellent researchers, who personally received a big grant, or people with teaching awards. We have two people, who were selected as the ´UT teacher of the year´. We have members from almost all UT faculties.’
Snoeijer: ‘We want to have a good representation of all faculties and are working on achieving that. After you are accepted, you remain a member for 5 years. To join, you not only have to be accomplished, but you also have to be young – in terms of your academic career. It´s an organization for young academics, not established professors.’
What activities is Young Academy involved in?
Snoeijer: ‘We aim to promote interdisciplinary cooperation and contribute to the communication of science, for example in the form of a recent exhibition in the TwentseWelle museum. Our members also have strong opinions and are not afraid to participate in debates. We start to be a visible group of academics and are regularly approached to deliver people for a wide range of activities.’
Van Hoof: ‘We meet every six weeks to discuss current issues; one example being the tenure track of the UT. We give advice to the board of the university, which can also request our expertise and opinion. We are involved in mentoring programs that focus on helping excellent students; we often serve as a jury for different projects and give lectures. We try to share our experience with other colleagues in order to help them receive grants and achieve their academic goals.’
What do you see as the main purpose of Young Academy?
Van Hoof: ‘In summary, we sit together and try to think of ways to contribute to the scientific community.’
Snoeijer: ‘I personally see it as a very enriching experience. You meet colleagues, who are in the same situation as you, but work in completely different fields. You find out more about disciplines you are not familiar with.’
Photo: board members Jacco, Joris and Mireille Claessens