'Current funding policy can have devastating consequences'

| Michaela Nesvarova

Since the 29th of March 2016, Tatiana Filatova is officially a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), a group of the top young scientists in the country. As such, she hopes to influence the research funding policy and to initiate a national evaluation of the tenure track system.

Tatiana Filatova is an Associate Professor at the CSTM department of the University of Twente. She is a recipient of prestigious grants and is well-known for her research of climate change economics. In this interview, Tatiana Filatova explains what she´d like to accomplish as a member of the Young Academy, an organization that is also involved in science policy making.

During Tuesday´s ceremony in Amsterdam, you were officially appointed as one of the ten new members of the Young Academy. Were you surprised to be asked to join the KNAW?

'I didn´t expect it, at least not this year. You have to be nominated to become a member. Each year about 80 people are nominated and 10 are selected. I was nominated by the Head of the Behavioral and Social Science Division of KNAW. I was, of course, very happy about it, but maybe I even underestimated what an honor it is. I think I fully realized what it means during the day of the ceremony. It´s very exciting. It´s such an energetic group of people, who are constantly coming up with ideas, the meetings are never boring.'

What are your responsibilities as a new member?

'The new members have to organize a first year project. These projects include many different activities that the Academy is famous for, such as the 'Young Academy on Wheels'. We would like to establish an online platform with practical advice for academics at all levels, a website where scientists could ask questions and share their experiences. In the next 10 months, we will add the first topics ranging from the discussions on co-authorship to the 'recipe' for a successful academic career. We actually have a great team this year. There are people with many different backgrounds - everything from psychology and philosophy to medical and computer science. And that is also what the Young Academy is all about, an interdisciplinary cooperation.'

What do you, personally, wish to achieve within the Young Academy?

'I´m very invested in the issue of tenure track implementation. The opportunity to pursue a tenure track was really life changing for me, but I know it can also be detrimental. The tenure track conditions vary greatly among Dutch universities, and they can either boost or set back the productivity of a researcher. Together with other Young Academy colleagues, I´d like to do a national evaluation of tenure track implementation at different universities and perhaps even look at this issue on an international scale.'

'Another thing that I definitely want to do is to take an active part in the discussion about research funding policy in the Netherlands and EU. I think it is incredible how much time we spend writing grants, while chances of success decrease annually reaching a success rate as low as 5%. Just imagine how many thousands of scientists waste their time writing grants instead of doing better research or education. Perhaps we even missed or significantly delayed some breakthroughs. I believe this system can have devastating consequences for any knowledge economy. The Young Academy offers an excellent platform to reach the people making decisions and it can facilitate an interdisciplinary approach. I want to see if we can make a difference.'

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