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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 both 2020 and 2021 and will further 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: Computational Biology (Leiden University Medical Center) 

I am a computational biologist with expertise in using machine learning to tackle complex questions in biomedical sciences. Our lab is interested in understanding how genetic and environmental factors affect the molecular state of cells and tissues. We use single-cell technologies to measure the molecular profiles of thousands of cells and develop computational algorithms to answer complex questions: Which genes determine cell identity? How are cells from different datasets related to each other? What differs between cells from healthy and diseased tissues? Can we predict cellular response to drugs and vaccines? Why do genetic mutations affect a specific cell type? Our ultimate goal is to identify molecular targets with high specificity to improve diagnosis and guide treatment development. We work across broad areas of biology, including: (i) neuronal diversity in the brain, (ii) cell-type specific effects of neuromuscular diseases, and (iii) (dys)regulation of the immune system. 
Working at the intersection of biology and computer science for most of my academic career, I have realized the complementarity of the knowledge exchange between the two disciplines. I’ve learned that most breakthroughs come from those outside the field, and as such, researchers must think beyond the boundaries defined by disciplines. Yet, it is often difficult to go across these boundaries and to get interdisciplinary work accepted by peers in well-established fields. Through YAL, I hope to promote the value of interdisciplinary research and work on designing evaluation frameworks that fit interdisciplinary researchers. Further, I am interested in developing concrete guidelines within Leiden University and the LUMC for attracting and integrating international researchers with diverse backgrounds. Only through diversity can we ensure continued competitives of research in Leiden.  
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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: Cognitive Neuroscience (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)

As a cognitive neuroscientist, I study how we make decisions about the world we see around us. Before joining Leiden University as an Assistant Professor of Cognitive Psychology, I investigated how our perception is biased by the choices we made in the past (during my PhD in Amsterdam and Hamburg), and how we can use mice as a model to study decision-making in populations of brain cells (as a postdoc at CSHL in New York). With my research group, I explore the ways in which decision-making continually changes. We use computational modelling to answer questions like: How does the variability in brain cells change with ageing? How may the brain's arousal systems 'tip' us into periods of time when we're most engaged? How do our past decisions interact with slow fluctuations in internal state, to shape how we interpret the world? And what can we learn from different decision-making systems like humans, animals, and AI?

Over the past few years I have become increasingly worried about the climate crisis. I consider it scientists’ duty to engage with this urgent societal challenge, not only as citizens but also as researchers, educators and members of our professional communities. Universities have a crucial role to play in research, teaching and leading by example (as sustainable organizations), and early career academics are a vital voice in discussions about our collective future. As a member of the Young Academy Leiden, I look forward to developing a vision for a sustainable future university in the face of the 21st century's challenges.

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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 Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology at at the Faculty of Social Science, after a PhD in clinical psychology at the Free University Berlin, and four years of methodology postdocs at KU Leuven and the University of Amsterdam. My interests are are the intersection of mental health science and data science, that is, how to best understand, measure, model, and classify mental health problems. To do so, I conceptualize mental health and illness as emergent properties that arise from complex, dynamical, transdiagnostic, biopsychosocial systems, rather than as clear-cut categories with simple causes. As co-founder of the Open Science Community Leiden, I am also interested in improving cumulative psychological science through open science practices. When I’m not working, I enjoy taking and post-processing photographs, traveling, singing, cooking, reading, and board & roleplaying games.

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Research field: Mathematical Analysis, in particular Noncommutative Geometry and Operator Algebras (Faculty of Science)

I am an assistant professor in the analysis and dynamical systems group at Leiden University. I am interested in the field of operator algebras, which emerged almost a century ago from work on the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics. For me mathematics is a language, a tool for describing and understanding the world around us. This makes that I am interested in intra- and interdisciplinary collaborations, within mathematics, and with other sciences, and in understanding which implications of mathematical results in my field can have on broader questions.

I am passionate about the public outreach of science and of mathematics. I am a member of the raising public awareness (RPA) committee of the European Mathematical Society (EMS) and a deputy member of the standing committee of the European Women in Mathematics association.

I look forward to working with the other members of the Young Academy Leiden on question related to interdisciplinary research, and on the question of public awareness of science. Being a first generation academic, I strongly believe that while popularising science one should also focus on inclusiveness and diversity, highlighting all the different ways one can be and become a scientist.

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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: AI and Machine learning 

I am an assistant professor at Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science.  

My research focuses on artificial intelligence and machine learning, and how these can be applied in society in a safe and trustworthy manner.  

My research vision is that we should (i) automate parts of the artificial intelligence pipeline where human experts are not needed, and (ii) absolutely involve human experts in the loop, where they can make a difference and prevent mistakes.  

I work on the goal of automation through my research on AutoML, where we build systems that automate laborious tasks, such as algorithm selection and hyperparameter optimization; human experts have little stake in this process, and their resources are better spend elsewhere.  

I work on the goal of humans in the loop through my research in trustworthy artificial intelligence.  

Indeed, in order to include humans in the loop, we need to open the black box that many artificial intelligence systems currently are, and we need to enable these to interact with human experts, and for example, be more transparent about degrees of uncertainty in certain outcomes.  

In short, these systems need to be interpretable, transparent and robust.  

During my Ph.D., I co-founded OpenML.org, an online platform that aims to make machine learning more open, and I am still involved in this.  

Better integration of artificial intelligence-based systems in our society has the potential to improve our society and lives in many ways, for example in addressing climate change, world hunger and the search for medicines.  

However, as with all powerful techniques, they can also be used for the wrong purposes. 

We have recently seen the impact that deep fakes and filter bubbles can have on individuals or our democratic processes.  

Additionally, there is a danger that outcomes will be wrongly interpreted, which might unfairly put parties of our society at a disadvantage.  

I strongly believe that having better science communication and outreach to society, these problems can be addressed, at least partially. 

Through YAL, I hope to utilize my expertise on these topics and work on outreach to and involvement of members of our society. 

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Research field: Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology

I am an Assistant Professor at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. With a background in both linguistics and anthropology, my research broadly focuses on how language and other forms of communication intersect with social and political issues like nationalism, migration, and urbanization. I am especially interested in shifting the focus from how speakers create social meaning, which is what most sociolinguists do, to instead consider the importance of listening. I have done most of my fieldwork in Oslo, Norway, looking at how people are reimagining the kinds of relationships and interactions that occur between individual citizens, as well as between citizens and government, to try to create a fairer and more “sustainable” welfare state. More recently, I have been thinking about participatory political projects in Norway and the Netherlands, and what they can tell us about how people understand the relationship between communication, particularly forms of listening, and democracy.

My own research has always bridged academic disciplines, and my teaching is primarily in multidisciplinary programs, so as a member of the Young Academy Leiden, I intend to use these experiences to help other younger academics meet researchers across disciplines and faculties and create interdisciplinary research collaborations. Additionally, I look forward to contributing with my colleagues to policy debates at the university. I plan to bring my expertise on language, power, and nationalism to discussions around the challenges of internationalization.

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Research field: Learning and behavior problems in education (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)

I am a developmental and educational psychologist, currently working as an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Education and Child Studies. My research focuses on children's learning difficulties and determining the instructional support they need. Specifically, I explore the use of different types and combinations of assessment methods to determine the most effective instructional interventions, leveraging computerized tests and digital log file analysis for innovative approaches. As such, interdisciplinarity has been a central theme throughout my academic journey, as blending knowledge from various fields has greatly enriched my research.

As a member of YAL, my primary goal is to emphasize and strengthen the sense of community within academia. I believe that fostering interpersonal connections and relationships beyond the confines of labs, institutes, faculties, and universities is essential. By facilitating new connections, I aim to help young academics find collaborators from diverse disciplines to enhance their work, or share experiences as young researchers.

Beyond the academic sphere, I also recognize the importance of strong relationships between academia and society. I am committed to supporting outreach and effective science communication. Bridging the gap between academia and society is vital, and as a YAL member, I am dedicated to promoting outreach activities that make scientific knowledge accessible and beneficial to all, and facilitate a dialog between scientists and society. Together, we can create a positive impact and contribute to science and society.

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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 Field: Health Psychology (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

I am associate professor at the Department of Public Health and Errstlijnsgeneeskunde (PHEG). My background is in Health Psychology, with a particular interest for psychological therapies, biopsychological therapeutic mechanisms for patients with a chronic illness as student mental health. I obtained my PhD (DPhil) in 2018 at the University of Oxford focusing on mindfulness-based therapies for IBS. Currently, I am coordinator for the second year of the Master Population Health Management. Together with a group of young researchers, I also set up Young NeurolabNL in 2020. Young NeurolabNL promotes interdisciplinary research, visibility and career perspectives of young researchers in the field of Brain, Cognition and Behavior. Within YAL my goal is to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations and to contribute to a save and stimulating work environment.

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Research field: Neurodegenerative disease (Faculty of Health-, Medical, and Neuropsychology)

I am an Assistant Professor in Neuropsychology at the University of Leiden. My research aims to increase the understanding of the complex relationships between cognition, emotion, and motor functioning in health and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. When investigating or treating dysfunctions in one of these systems, we too often consider them in isolation, overlooking the function of the network they are situated in. By studying the complexity of these interactions, I aim to identify biomarkers of neurodegeneration that can be translated into clinical practice.

I have worked and studied in different disciplines, and my current research combines experimental and neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and functional neuroimaging. These experiences have taught me the importance of tackling problems from different viewpoints. I believe that combining strengths in team-based science benefits academia and is (arguably) more enjoyable. With the YAL, I want to strengthen the community of young academics and facilitate the building of a network. This is a prerequisite for fostering a more multidisciplinary science and teaching culture at Leiden University.

Finally, I aim to leverage the position that YAL has created over the past years to voice concerns about issues such as climate change, sustainability, and the needs (e.g., recognition and rewards) of young academics during policy discussions with the University or faculty boards.

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Research field: Migration, Public Policy, Comparative Politics (Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences)  

I am a migration scholar working at the intersection of political science, international relations, sociology and development studies. Before joining Leiden as Assistant Professor, I did my PhD at the University of Amsterdam and worked at the University of Oxford. In my research and teaching, I explore the politics around migration across the Global North and Global South, asking: How did we end up with the migration policies in place? What power dynamics characterize migration policymaking at national, transnational and international level? And what do the politics around migration reveal about the inner functioning of states, about shifting conceptions of national identity and about broader dynamics of political change?  

As a YAL member, I want to foster outreach activities that help Leiden scholars to effectively translate their research to a broader public. Taking part in relevant policy or societal conversations at local or national level can be challenging as academia today requires young scholars to move frequently and transnationally. Also, the effort needed to build up sustainable public engagement strategies and networks often remains unrewarded in internal evaluations and promotions. YAL is already actively working on these issues, so I look forward to creatively and collectively think about how to make YAL’s work most relevant and effective for young scholars at Leiden. 

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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: Economics (Faculty of Law)

I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Department of Economics at the Leiden Law School. At Leiden University I teach Economics in a variety of study programs such as the Leiden University College, the Institute of Security and Global Affairs and the Institute of Public Administration.

My research interests include: labour economics, economics of the household, and behavioral and experimental economics. I work on (university) policy relevant questions. For instance I study how mentor programs and the study environment can help students increase their study performance. In another line of research I study how policies - such as parental leave schemes - affect households’ decisions and behaviors on the labor market.

As a member of the Young Academy Leiden I would like to use scientific methods to learn how we can improve university policies, and use actual academic insights to help improve policies. For example regarding student learning, the hiring of (academic) staff, the job tasks of (academic) staff, and promotion criteria.

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Research field: Galaxy Formation & Cosmology  (Leiden Observatory, Faculty of Science) 

I am an Assistant Professor at Leiden Observatory. My main research focus is the link between the formation and evolution of galaxies on one hand, and the large-scale structure of the Universe on the other, through the use of large cosmological computer simulations. However, in my position I am an educator first and a researcher second. Besides lecturing, this also entails that I help ensure the quality of the education programme at Leiden Observatory, and strive to improve the teaching efforts of myself and my colleagues.  

As part of the Young Academy Leiden, I hope to contribute to policies that emphasize the importance of our and our students’ mental well-being, as well as increasing the options for teaching-focused academic careers at Leiden University. Finally, I aim to stimulate collaborative teaching between different education programs, that for example sometimes teach the same material in completely different ways. Giving ourselves time and space to become better lecturers may also allow us to further improve in outreach, by helping us communicate to the public more effectively. 

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Research field: The international art market for pre-Columbian Mesoamerican pieces

I am an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Archaeology and a member of the interdisciplinary research group ‘Museums, Collections and Society’, a collaboration between the Faculty of Archaeology and LUCAS. Before coming to Leiden University, I was a curator for the Latin American collections at the National Museum of Ethnology/National Museum of World Cultures of the Netherlands.

My teaching focuses on museum studies and collections-based research, as well as the societal relevance of the discipline of archaeology. In a general sense, my research explores how the material remains of the past have an impact on the contemporary world, both on an individual, a societal and a global level. More specifically, my current research focuses on the international art market for pre-Columbian Mesoamerican pieces in the twentieth century, and the use and cultural meaning of turquoise in pre-Colonial Mesoamerica.

I hope to help further YAL’s goals by developing activities within YAL’s three pillars, focusing especially on Outreach and Interdisciplinarity. As an archaeologist whose research takes place at the intersections of archaeology, (art) history, globalization studies and critical theory, I believe interdisciplinarity is essential for fruitful research endeavors. My experience as a curator has shown me the value of communicating academic research to a wide range of audiences, a practice I hope to continue in my work at Leiden University.

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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: Savanna ecosystem ecology (Faculty of Science)

I am an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Leiden University. I have worked in savannah ecosystems in southern and eastern Africa for 10 years and combine this extensive field experience with developing core ecological theories through synthesis and conceptual thinking. My curiosity lies in identifying general principles that have shaped ecosystems to what we observe today.

I strive to contribute to conserve the enchanting diversity of Africa’s remaining wildlife. During my postdoc at Princeton University - working on human-wildlife interactions in the Greater Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem - I have come to realize that an interdisciplinary approach is the only way to accomplish this, by including economic and social aspects of human well-being. I am currently setting up such interdisciplinary collaborations within Leiden University.

As a member of the Young Academy Leiden, I intend to use my expertise and interest to promote interdisciplinary research, all the way from the generation of ideas to the dissemination of research insights. Furthermore, I hope to contribute to a work environment with a better balance between goals of individuals and institutes within Leiden University, in particular Early Career Scientists.

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Research field: Cardiometabolic Diseases (Leiden University Medical Center)

I am a Senior Researcher at the Division of Endocrinology at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) with a PhD in Molecular Medicine. My research focuses on the understanding, prevention and treatment of common metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. These diseases are often associated with obesity but the mere recommendation to “eat less and exercise more” is very often insufficient as treatment. Accordingly, my group is exploring new drug treatments and ways to optimize these lifestyle interventions, for example by finding the best time of day to exercise or by supporting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut that contribute to metabolic regulation in the body. When I am not working, I enjoy traveling, reading and exploring Leiden’s surroundings together with my dog.

Joining the Young Academy Leiden, I am particularly interested in two topics: Firstly, I want to increase the visibility of science in the day to day life of Leidenaars (and their neighbors) and provide a platform for young researchers to share their exciting projects in easily understandable and creative ways. Secondly, I want to work towards improving the career perspectives for early career researchers at Leiden University. With my experience from working in four countries in the past 15 years including Sweden and the US I know the challenges of scientific mobility and can pinpoint university policies that may or may not work for incoming researchers or those considering establishing their research groups here permanently.

Research field: Bioethics, ethics of emerging technologies (Leiden University Medical Center)

As an Assistant Professor of Bioethics at Leiden University Medical Center, I work on the ethical questions raised by developments in the fields of stem cell research, genetic modification, regenerative medicine, and embryo-like structures. Working at the interface of ethics and biomedicine, I am convinced that tackling the big issues of tomorrow – such as the responsible development of emerging biotechnologies – requires an interdisciplinary approach. I am also passionate about societal outreach and enjoy taking part in public dialogues and speaking at popular science events. Next to work, I love traveling, hiking, reading, and ashtanga yoga.

As a YAL member, I am particularly passionate about contributing to the policy pillar and stimulating just policies to hire staff, divide research money, and reward diverse talents. I would also like to contribute to policies that facilitate the well-being of staff and students alike. In doing so, I think it is important to acknowledge that work pressure runs deeper than merely having ‘too much work’ and is also influenced by one’s sense of autonomy, mastery, and belonging – all things that should be factored in to create effective policies. I look forward to working with and learning from like-minded colleagues across the university in the coming five years.

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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: Statistics Communication (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)

I am an assistant professor in the Methodology & Statistics unit of the Institute of Psychology. In my research, I study effective ways of communicating statistics and their uncertainties to improve data-driven decision making. As this is an interdisciplinary topic on the intersection of statistics, (science) communication and cognitive science, I work together with researchers with many different backgrounds and enjoy learning about their fields.

Furthermore, I strive to improve (statistical) numeracy in society and to create more awareness for this topic. To this aim, I co-founded the Statistics Communication section of the Netherlands Society for Statistics (VVSOR) and initiated a reading group on the topic to bring together statisticians and researchers interested in this topic. Additionally, I founded the VVSOR’s statistics blog to give statisticians a platform to write about their research and engage in various outreach activities myself.

Having experienced the struggles of starting new research collaborations with scholars outside your usual field and sharing your research with a broader audience myself, I aim to help other to do the same. As a YAL member I will strive to connect early career researchers with overlapping interests so they can start new collaborations together, as well as help them find (existing) outreach initiatives to share their insights with a broader audience. In this way we can establish more interdisciplinary projects at Leiden University and share our expertise with society.

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Research field:Anthropological linguistics and African linguistics (Leiden University Centre for Linguistics)

I am a linguist specialised in anthropological linguistics and African languages, and I currently work as assistant professor at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics in the Faculty of Humanities. I am fascinated by the relationship between language and culture, and in my research I address questions related to linguistic relativity and the role played by language and culture in shaping worldviews and affecting cognition. My research takes place at the intersection of linguistics and anthropology, and as such it is based on traditional ethnographic methods and long-term fieldwork among communities in East Africa. In the last decade I have carried out most of my research among the Hamar pastoralists in South-West Ethiopia, and I have been studying their language (a previously under-described and unwritten language) and their linguistic and cultural practices. I am a VENI laureate and as part of this project I am working on the visual systems of pastoralists in East Africa; by studying the categories that exist in these visual systems we can better understand whether and when categories such as “colors” and “patterns” are culturally determined or constrained by universal tendencies of human cognition.  

Through the Young Academy Leiden I will be involved mainly in the interdisciplinarity group and in the policy group. Given the highly specialised knowledge we develop as academics, I believe it is fundamental to promote interdisciplinary collaboration to gain insights that cannot be achieved solely by individual expertise. I am very excited to work together with my colleagues at YAL and find ways to move forward the interdisciplinarity agenda in our university.  For the research and education policy group I hope to contribute especially in the area of inclusivity and equal opportunities, a pressing issue in our increasingly changing student and staff population.  

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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: Clinical Developmental Psychology (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)

I am a clinical developmental psychologist, and work as an assistant professor in Education and Child Studies. I study developmental disorders in children and adolescents. My research is focused on how the interaction between children’s characteristics and their environment affects the expression of psychopathology. I specialize in children with autism. I study their well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, I study the challenges and talents of autistic children in special education.

Having worked in clinical practice, I have witnessed negative consequences of the gap between science and society. I believe that scientific knowledge should contribute to and be available for society. Therefore, collaboration with experts from the field and the dissemination of outcomes to clinical practice are important elements in my research. As a member of the Young Academy Leiden (YAL), I hope to contribute to outreach at Leiden University. I would like to promote engagement and collaboration between researchers and non-researchers, and hope to contribute to an increased appreciation of science outside the academia. Furthermore, I strive towards more recognition of the value of science communication and knowledge utilization within the academia.

Within the YAL, I aim to take part in conversations regarding policy issues. I would like to be an advocate for early career academics, helping them to overcome challenges they encounter. In addition, I strive to foster a safe work environment wherein all academics, including underrepresented groups in science, are welcomed and can thrive. I am convinced that we as young academics are able to promote a contemporary and diverse academia.

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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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Research field: Methodology & Statistics (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)

I am an Assistant Professor (UD) at the unit of Methodology & Statistics of the Institute of Psychology at Leiden University. My main research interests are in latent variable modeling, categorical data and survey methodology. My main research-line focuses on developing stepwise estimation methods for complex latent variable models.

I have a diverse background, having worked next to academia also in business as HR analytics data scientist at Shell, and as Educational Policy analyst at OECD supporting the methodological work around the PISA project family. I am fascinated by bringing academic and applied (policy oriented) research closer, to use new statistical methods to solve applied problems, and bridge the gap between academia and industry.

I joined the YAL to contribute with my passion for bridging applied and academic research. I would like to help young researchers to create creative forms of knowledge utilization and outreach. Furthermore in my field I have seen many talented people leave academia  because of the discrepancy between expectations and carrier development possibilities. I see outlets like the YAL a great place to signal the needs of young academics towards decision makers and to further the discussion about diversifying the career options that academia offers to young researchers.

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