Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities
The Young Academy of Europe

Young and outspoken about science and policy

UiB researcher Arjan Wardekker was recently admitted to The Young Academy of Europe (YAE).

Four people next to each other, with blue skies and a pink flag in the background
Arjan Wardekker (right) together with (from the left) Jeroen van der Sluijs, Diana Wildschut (UiB-SVT) and Werner Krauß (University of Bremen). The researchers are here gathered for the international kick-off meeting of the Co-cli-serv project.
Anne De Rudder (BIRA-IASB)

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Arjan Wardekker, who is a senior researcher at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT) at UiB, was appointed as a member of Young Academy of Europe (YAE) in March 2021. YAE is pan-European initiative of outstanding young scientists for networking, advocacy, scientific exchange, and science policy. At SVT, Wardekker is involved in the research projects Semper-Arctic, where he leads a work package on resilience integration, and Co-cli-serv, where he is a project member in the work package on knowledge quality assessment. Wardekker is also a senior researcher at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University, where he is project leader for the Utrecht team for both these projects.

Science policy advice from a younger generation’s perspective

YAE is a group of recognized European young scientists and scholars with outspoken views about science and science policy. One of their main aims is to actively contribute to science policy and science for policy from a younger generation’s perspective, as evidenced by their active role in SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies). and their position as host organization of YASAS (Young Academies Science Advice Structure).

The academy was formally established in 2012, when they also established a partnership with Academia Europaea (AE), a pan-European Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Letters.

Wardekker believes that his rather unique profile, related to both science and science policy, made him an interesting nominee for YAE:

"I’ve worked in both in science and science-policy boundary organizations, like PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, and the Health Council of the Netherlands. Also, the science-policy-society interface is one of my key research topics. So I have experience in both worlds that YAE aims to connect."

Excellence, leadership abilities and independence

The YAE initially recruited about 100 members from the pool of ERC Starting Grant holders, but since 2014, it has been open to leading young scholars whose excellence at the international level has been recognized by their peers. YAE’s admission of new members is based on the scientific qualification and achievement of the candidates. In addition to the prime admission criterion of scientific excellence, the selection committee considers things like a candidate’s leadership abilities, scientific independence, and interest in pan-European or international cooperation and science policy.

"In my case, that research leadership was clear; having built a highly productive independent research line on urban resilience and climate adaptation. This has resulted in a growing portfolio of competitive grants, highly cited papers in leading scientific journals, collaboration with leading scholars in my field, and supervising and advising young researchers."

Mark of international recognition

Wardekker sees the membership as an important mark of international recognition of his work by the wider scientific community; beyond his own research field, and by an Academy that is actively involved in science-policy advice at the European level.

"The membership will help increase the visibility and potential societal impact of my research. Also, YAE is a broad and engaged group of people, so there is always the chance of sparking unexpected interdisciplinary collaborations."

Plans for active involvement in YAE

Wardekker is the second researcher at SVT to be admitted to YAE – Scott Bremer became a member in 2019. Bremer is currently Activities Chair of the Academy’s board. A candidate’s willingness to actively participate in YAE is also something the admission committee considers, and Wardekker has definitely thought about getting involved now that he is a member:

"I hope to get actively engaged in YAE's work on science-policy advice through SAPEA and similar activities. This involves interdisciplinary scientific advisory committees, which are established on specific topics as they come along. I've enjoyed working with such committees for the Dutch government during the past decade, so this is something I'd gladly get involved in for YAE as well."