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YAL members

Read all about YAL membership and the members of the Young Academy Leiden.

YAL membership

The Young Academy Leiden is a platform for early career academics. Each year new members are selected who have earned their PhD no more than eight years ago.

YAL started with 13 members in 2019, has welcomed six new members in 2020 and will grow in size over the next few years to a number that will stabilise around 25 to 30 members. YAL membership is for five years. Senior members will be replaced annually by newcomers.

Overview of current YAL members

Research field: American History, Politics and Policy (Faculty of Humanities) 

I am a historian of the United States who also has a strong interest in contemporary international relations. In my research and teaching I explore big questions about the link between America’s role in the world and its domestic intellectual life and politics. What are the ideas and deeper structures of thought which inform American foreign policy? How can we best understand the “liberal international order” which it is often claimed that America created and has sustained since the Second World War? And how have Americans’ understanding of borders as a mediating force between the themselves and the outside world changed throughout history?

As a member of Young Academy Leiden, I hope to help create a permanent infrastructure at Leiden University to foster, encourage and reward public engagement. There are currently many questions about the role that scientific and academic expertise plays in society. The best way for academics to answer them is to learn the skills necessary to engage constructively and productively with the public sphere. Young Academy Leiden is well-positioned to help foster the emergence of a new generation of young academics who are equipped for this challenge, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to think about ways to do so.

Before coming to Leiden, I worked as a teaching fellow at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, a civil servant in the Cabinet Office, and a visiting scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School.

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Research Field: Brain Development in Adolescence (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)

I am an associate professor in the Developmental and Educational Psychology department. As a scientist am trained in both cognitive neuroscience and developmental psychology. In my research I study how brain development relates to adolescent’s decision-making and learning in social contexts. I have received an NWO-ORA grant to examine social learning opportunities during adolescence, a phase of social reorientation towards peers. The focus is creating learning opportunities out of social situations, learning from, with, and about other people. I aim to translate these findings to youth with developmental challenges (such as ADHD) and aim to think along with teachers and students how to foster motivation and social resilience in youth. I am committed to mentoring students, and play a role as adjunct director of the research master Psychology. Within the YAL my goal is to contribute to making this platform findable and important to early career researchers in Leiden. The collaboration and perspectives of the YAL inspire me to bring together young researchers, create mentorship, collaboration, outreach, and interdisciplinarity.

 

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Research field: Cultural Anthropology (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)

I am an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University. In my ethnographic research projects on post-disaster reconstruction and end-of-life care, and moral experiences of living with HIV/AIDS in Indonesia, I focus on a first-person perspective of remaking lifeworlds in the face of extreme hardship. My work explores how people make and remake relations with the world and others through narratives and how they navigate ethical demands in such difficult circumstances. Thereby, it illuminates the ways in which people subjectively engage with the social and political forces that shape their lives in times of crisis. Starting in September 2020, I will lead the ERC Starting Grant project “Globalizing Palliative Care? A Multi-sited Ethnographic Study of Practices, Policies and Discourses of Care at the End of Life”. I am author of After the Tsunami: Disaster Narratives and the Remaking of Everyday Life in Aceh (University of Hawai’i Press 2019) and co-editor of Islam and the Limits of the State: Reconfigurations of Practice, Community and Authority in Contemporary Aceh (Brill 2015).

Within Young Academy Leiden, I will use my expertise and interest in understanding how others see and study the world to foster interdisciplinary and international collaboration. Such collaborations concern addressing societal questions from different academic perspectives, but also increasing possibilities of translating academic insights across disciplines. My second area of focus within Young Academy Leiden will be policy issues, with an emphasis on job security and career perspectives for young scholars, especially female young scholars.

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Research field: Urbanization in the Middle East (Faculty of Humanities)

I am an Assistant Professor in the School of Middle Eastern Studies at Leiden University. As an anthropologist with a broad focus on urban spaces, income inequality, and the politics of planning and development regimes, my research deals with many timely issues that mark our age of global urbanization and increasing protests over unequal access to resources. My main fieldwork site has been North Africa, where I have spent close to ten years focusing on Morocco – initially working with development organizations and later conducting academic research on these topics.

Originally from Romania, I hold a BA from Harvard University and a PhD from SOAS, University of London. My research has been funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the UK ESRC, and the Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies, among others.

In my role with the Young Academy Leiden I intend to use my expertise and interests to collaboratively devise outreach agendas which can contribute to the popularization and creative dissemination of scientific and scholarly knowledge in society. At a time when experts and expertise have come under intense scrutiny, it is important to facilitate conversations between our communities and the academic insights we produce as scholars. At the same time, together with my colleagues, I aim to contribute to conversations on university policy and engage in urgent debates about labor practices inside academia in order to find ways of fostering the career perspectives of young scholars – in particular for those who come from underrepresented backgrounds.

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Research field: Measurement, modeling, ontology and nosology in Mental Health studies (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)

I am an Assistant Professor in Clinical Psychology at the Faculty of Social Science. After obtaining a PhD in Clinical Psychology, I switched fields and completed two postdocs in Quantitative Methods before joining my current group. Today, I am interested in four aspects of mental health research: measurement (how to best assess whether someone is ill), modeling (what statistical models are most appropriate to model psychopathology), ontology (what are mental disorders), and nosology (how do we best classify them). Apart from that, I embrace and promote open science practices; write tutorials on statistical methodology for applied researchers; and try to convince my colleagues that the next step in improving mental health problems is to embrace their biopsychosocial complexity. When I’m not working, I enjoy taking and post-processing photographs, traveling, singing, cooking, reading, and board games.

As a member of YAL, I want to focus on two topics. First, I have had the privilege of living in 6 countries in the last 15 years, and of working at several Universities in Europe and the US. This also means I am aware of some of the challenges of the international academic job market, and those that come with moving a lot. I therefore hope to contribute to improving the stressful academic environment that early career scholars face. Second, I have had the privilege of working between different disciplines, including clinical psychology, psychiatry, epidemiology, and statistics. Being a generalist also means I often feel like the dumbest person in the room, because there is so much expert knowledge I lack (hey, you over there … you’re not the only one with imposter syndrome, many of us feel that way). But the truth is that science is just a lot, and there is only so much each of us can know. Collaborations are a wonderful way to address this inherent limitation. And it turns out that science is not only better, but also more fun as a cooperative team sport. I hope to help facilitate more interdisciplinary collaborations through YAL, promoting rigorous and robust work that has been termed ‘slow science’ recently.

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Research field: Organisational Behaviour (Leiden Law School)

I am an Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the department of Business Studies at the Leiden Law School. My research interests center on group dynamics, the work-family interface and employee well-being. In my research, I try to answer questions like “is stress always a bad thing?” and “what enables individuals to find a good balance between work and private life?” My research demonstrates the importance of social support and uncovers how employees can build a support network at work and outside to maintain their well-being. I also pay attention to the specific challenges faced by dual-earner couples in terms of juggling work and family demands.

My expertise is closely linked to key (HR) policy matters. This way, I hope to contribute to one of the goals of Young Academy Leiden, which is to inform policy at Leiden University and become a key interlocutor of the executive board and other stakeholders at this university.

As an organisational psychologist working at the Leiden Law School, I have learned firsthand about the value of looking beyond the borders of one’s own discipline. I am motivated to use my social sciences background and familiarity with empirical research methods to do interdisciplinary research. I would like to bring this enthusiasm to Young Academy Leiden. I am determined to promote interfaculty collaborations at Leiden University and I want Young Academy Leiden to set an example.

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Research field: Comparative, EU and International Law (Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs)

I am an Assistant Professor of Comparative, EU and International Law at the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs. I specialise in EU external relations, the international ramifications of Brexit, and global governance reform.

I am the author of Foreign Policy Objectives in European Constitutional Law (OUP 2016), co-author of ASEAN’s External Agreements: Law, Practice and the Quest for Collective Action (CUP 2015), and co-editor of Just Security in an Undergoverned World (OUP 2018). My work has been acknowledged with several awards, including NATO’s Manfred Wörner Essay Award and the EUI’s Mauro Cappelletti Prize for the Best Doctoral Thesis in Comparative Law. I regularly conduct funded research and teaching innovation projects. These include a Fulbright-Schuman Grant, a Leiden Global Interactions Breed Grant, funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. My media appearances include interviews and op-eds for the BBC World ServiceCBC News, CGTN America, EU Observer, The Guardian, The Hill, Radio New ZealandTrouwVolkskrant, and Xinhua.

Being a member of Young Academy Leiden is a unique opportunity to understand how our university works as a whole – and what can be improved. As co-coordinator of the science and education policy workgroup of, I regularly discuss the challenges of today’s high education sector, and how they affect young researchers in particular, including issues of budget cuts, internationalisation, and the right balance between research, teaching and outreach. Moreover, I hope to improve our ability to communicate research findings to policymakers and the wider public.

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Research field: Science Communication to Society (Faculty of Science)

I am a researcher at the Faculty of Science, connecting science communication and fundamental science. I have a double appointment at the Leiden Institute of Physics and the Science Communication and Society department. I am fascinated by the dissemination of seemingly unreachable science, with a focus on my background in quantum science and technology. During my PhD in quantum science, I realized a great challenge and opportunity to connect to society in an early stage of scientific development. I broadened my expertise on the impact of science on society in the research group Science Communication and Society (SCS) at Leiden University. Here, I dove into the social aspects of science communication in STEM. I co-developed the Leiden Tutoring Program to increase equality in STEM.

I find it important to break down disciplinary walls between research institutes and institutions. I believe Leiden University is a very natural place for interdisciplinarity. For example, it has a long history of world-class physics research and is well-known for its social science and humanities. Being part of the young Academy Leiden I hope to accelerate and simplify the formation of fruitful connections between various disciplines.

Outreach is something that comes very natural to me, I love to talk about science in front of various audiences. Throughout my academic career I really enjoyed reaching out to laypeople about quantum science and technology. It is an amazing challenge to unexpectedly spark interest on new topics. However, I think there is a whole iceberg of people below the surface who we do not reach with our well-intended outreach.  My ambition is to enhance sustainable interactions between science and the ‘unusual suspects’ by well-thought science communication programmes.

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Research Area: Linguistics (Faculty of Humanities)

I am an Assistant Professor at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. My research is aimed at explaining how and why the grammar of living languages, such as English and Dutch, has changed (and will continue to change) over time. In more specific projects, I investigated the extent to which individual speakers may have (unwittingly) contributed to grammatical change simply by using language in everyday life, and looked into the question whether the grammatical system individuals acquire as children can still be (substantially) adjusted during adulthood. Most recently, I started exploring whether and to what extent computational language models capture the subtle (and ever-changing) meanings humans can express by using different types of grammatical structures, and how such models can be employed to facilitate research in Humanities and Social Sciences. As of 2021, I will lead a two-year research infrastructure project to develop a suite of neural language models trained on historical language varieties (funded by PDI-SSH).

As my own research increasingly often crosses disciplinary boundaries, I have become a firm believer that the future is interdisciplinary. As a member of YAL, I hope to help young academics by removing the hurdles they still face when attempting to set up and develop interdisciplinary research projects. At the same time, I also hope to contribute to creating an inclusive, supportive environment for all young academics who wish to make their research and insights accessible to a wide, general audience.

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Research field: Neuromuscular Disorders (Leiden University Medical Center)

I am a senior postdoc working at the department of Human Genetics of the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). My scientific interest focusses on translational research for neuromuscular disorders; in particular Duchenne muscular dystrophy and limb girdle muscular dystrophy. In both diseases, muscles are more prone to damage due to the lack of structural muscle proteins, which eventually leads to loss of muscle function. My research group works on the development of therapies aimed to restore expression of the affected proteins, and to target the secondary pathology, thereby improving muscle function. We also try to unravel the pathology underlying the behavioural and cognitive abnormalities seen in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and to develop a therapy to treat the brain.

Joining Young Academy Leiden, I am keen to make science understandable for the general public and to get society involved in research. Over the years, I have given multiple lectures at primary and secondary schools, patient congresses and festivals about muscles and DNA. With this experience, I am looking forward to developing more educational activities for society. In addition, I am motivated to help young researchers with their career and personal development. Having had great mentors myself, I am now also eager to help others. Joining Young Academy Leiden will also allow me to further broaden interactions with researchers working in other disciplines. I believe that great ideas can be generated when multiple disciplines intermingle at different levels, and I am looking forward to facilitating this within the university via Young Academy Leiden.

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Research field: Philosophy (Faculty of Humanities)

I am an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Philosophy, at the Faculty of Humanities. I work in theoretical philosophy. Currently, I have an NWO Veni grant to work on philosophical questions regarding the nature of non-objective facts and observations. The main issue in my work concerns the possibility of seemingly good observations that nevertheless conflict. In such special cases (and only such cases), I argue that we might need to acknowledge perspectival facts. Besides this major project, I also work more generally on the nature of perception and philosophical puzzles about part-whole relations.

As a member of Young Academy Leiden, I hope to contribute to discussions regarding university policy, especially when it concerns the protection and fair distribution of research time for younger researchers, internationalisation and the role of the humanities within our university.

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Research field: Cancer Biology (Leiden University Medical Center)

I am a cancer biologist with expertise in genetics and immunology. Our research group aims at understanding how a patient’s immune system interacts with cancer cells with the ultimate goal of applying this knowledge to the development of novel therapies that improve cancer survival. I am Portuguese and did my PhD training at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) until 2010. Following a postdoctoral period in Stockholm, Sweden, I returned to Leiden in 2014, and shortly after that I established my own research group at the department of Pathology of the LUMC.

I am very passionate about education (of students and society at large) and interdisciplinary research. Further, I am a strong believer that it is up to young people in academia to shape the future of our university and, consequently, contribute towards a healthy, sustainable, prosperous and fair, knowledge-based society.

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Research field: Economics and Public Administration (Leiden Law School & Faculty of Governance and Global affairs)

I am a professor of Comparative Welfare State Analysis at the Department of Economics and at the Institute of Public Administration at Leiden University. My research and teaching interests include comparative political economy, welfare state reform, income inequality, globalisation, European integration and labour economics.

As member of Young Academy Leiden, I aim to strengthen the collaboration between different disciplines in terms of both research and teaching, as I firmly believe that the societal challenges of the 21st century require multidisciplinary approaches. As such, I am programme leader of the research programme “Social Citizenship and Migration”, in which four faculties of Leiden University are involved (FGGA, Law, Social Sciences, Humanities). Additionally, I serve as coordinator of the MSc programme Economics and Governance. This unique programme is jointly offered by the Department of Economics and the Institute of Public Administration. 

I have been visiting researcher at Harvard University and Marquette University (Wisconsin) and visiting professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics (Beijing). Together with Stefan Thewissen I received the Aldi J.M. Hagenaars Memorial Award, awarded by the Luxembourg Income Study to the best LIS Working Paper written by a scholar under age 40. 

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Research field: Public Policy (Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs)

I conduct research and teach at the Public Administration Institute of Leiden University focusing on public policy analysis. Most of my work is done at the intersection of comparing government policies in the context of utilising new technologies for sustainability. This includes, for example, the use of big data for public climate change efforts and poverty initiatives, and the capacity of government to innovate in urban settings. In pursuit of these research streams, I am collaborating with colleagues from other fields, such as Computer Science, as well as Dutch local and national governments. I have published in various journals, including Energy Policy, Environmental Science and Policy, Public Administration, and Policy Science.

Based on largely interdisciplinary research and teaching, inter-faculty collaboration is an important aspect of my goals for YAL. Throughout the development of teaching programmes, I saw the existing challenges and opportunities for offering education across faculties and the potential spillover effects in the The Hague government context. I want to contribute to the development of research and teaching which fosters joint learning processes among Leiden colleagues and students from a range of disciplines. I also hope to help make YAL an independent and vocal body in the university setting, in which young researchers see their interests and concerns represented, and that has enough leverage to have a meaningful impact on some of the university-wide decisions. Universities can be very hierarchical places - this is something that especially younger faculty members experience. This can be used as an advantage in a mentor setting where experience in certain areas is turned into guidance for younger colleagues.

I look forward to learning from and discussing these issue with the other YAL members in the coming five years!

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Research field: Human Osteoarchaeology (Faculty of Archaeology)

I am an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University. I specialise in human osteoarchaeology, which is the excavation and analysis of human skeletal remains. Through archaeology, I address broader biosocial questions, such as inequality, migration, and social identity in the ancient past. Although my research focuses on ancient civilisations in Sudan and Egypt, I have also conducted fieldwork in Chile, Portugal, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States.

As a member of Young Academy Leiden, I am particularly interested in promoting interdisciplinarity among the faculties. In my own archaeological research, I have benefitted greatly from collaboration with specialists in other fields of study. I have worked with geochemists, medical doctors, social scientists, and historians, and from these collaborations I have produced publications and successful grant applications. In addition to building connections with fellow members of Young Academy Leiden, I also hope to bridge gaps and facilitate collaboration between faculties. I hope to help organise interfaculty lunches for young scholars to encourage introductions and networking.

I am also passionate about education and outreach. I view engagement with students and the public as a cornerstone of any academic position. I will work with fellow YAL members to find new and exciting ways of interacting with our community.

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Research field: Mathematics (Faculty of Science)

I am an Assistant Professor at the Mathematical Institute of the Faculty of Science. Because of the joy I personally derive from my collaborations, I relish the opportunity to help foster more interdisciplinary research at Leiden University. Most of my ideas to achieve this goal involve social events, since in my experience many collaborations originate from informal connections. I would like to integrate such social events with events aimed at helping fellow young researchers in their personal development and career. I also find it important to actively seek interaction with the general public, not only to give back the knowledge that we gather to society, but also because such interactions motivate and inspire me to find ways to further increase the impact of my own research on society.

My research is in statistics, which I love because it allows me to work on a wide range of topics. I work both on the theoretical side and the applied side. The two sides inspire each other. Some of my applied projects are on the topics of quality control of organ transplantation, chemotherapy dosing, linguistics, and responsible use of data in national medical registers, especially the Dutch arthroplasty register (which contains information about hip replacement, knee replacement and other joints). My ambition for the future is to continue on this dual track of deriving new theoretical results for practically relevant problems.

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Research field: Political Science (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)

As an Associate Professor of Political Science, I study the representative relationship between citizens and politicians. This includes elections, political parties and their election promises, and what politicians and parties do in parliament.

It is really important that academics engage with society, so that we give back to society what we learn and can engage with important societal questions. I have done this through academic blogging and aggregating opinion polls in the Netherlands. It would be interesting to do this also on a more local level in Leiden and The Hague and I think that is where Young Academy Leiden can make a difference.

Young Academy Leiden is a really diverse group of early career scholars in terms of interests and approaches and it is really enriching to learn from this. Modern science can be very specialised and I think it is good that we keep looking around to learn about interesting developments in other fields.

There is also a lot that the YAL members share in terms of combining research and teaching, dealing with the pressures of our jobs and combining career and personal life. This is where YAL can be a voice for early career researchers, not afraid to speak up for them, but also willing to cooperate in making these voices heard inside and outside of the university.

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Research field: Astronomy and Astrophysics (Faculty of Science & Leiden Observatory)

I am an Assistant Professor at the Leiden Observatory within the Faculty of Science, and I also work at SRON, the Netherlands Institute for Space Research. In my everyday life, I pursue the answer to the question: Are there other Solar systems like our own? This will help to understand the history of our Solar system, and put our planet in context in the Universe. To accomplish this goal, I study the interiors and atmospheres of exoplanets and planets in our own Solar system. I am one of the science team members of the (NASA) Juno mission – orbiting Jupiter since 2016 – and also a member of the science team of the upcoming (ESA) ARIEL mission, that will observe exoplanet atmospheres.

Originally from Argentina (where I finished my PhD), I did three postdocs: one at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (Heidelberg, Germany), and two in Nice, France, where I first was a Henri Poincare Fellow, and later obtained a CNES fellowship. I started as an assistant professor at the Leiden Observatory in 2018.

As a member of YAL, I want to promote diversity and inclusion, boost interdisciplinary interaction between researchers and students at the university, and improve the mentorship of postdocs and young faculty at the university. I also think that a fluent communication between researchers and society is crucial to stimulate interest in science, inspire future scientists, and create appreciation for our university in society.

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