This year, our yearly annual meeting (AGM) went hybrid, with members of the board present in Barcelona and members of the YAE participating in the event online. Despite the limitations of this format, we enjoyed a lively meeting with a full-day, diverse programme!
Gemma Modinos and Moniek Tromp opened this AGM by presenting the activities of the YAE in the past year, especially the role played by YAE in the creation of YASAS and in contributing to the next funding scheme to which SAPEA applied. The YAE board wished farewell to Sierd Cloetingh, who is retiring from his role as president of the Academia Europaea, and thanked him for his support of the YAE since its creation. We are looking forward to the collaboration with the new AE President-elect, Marja Makarow.
Four new members of the YAE presented their research, showcasing the diversity of profiles within our Academy. Matthias Urban from the University of Tübingen studies the languages of the Central Andes and their historical and linguistic diversity, comparing the languages currently spoken in this region with their situation in the 16th century. This research has the potential for many interdisciplinary developments, for instance in anthropology and ethnology. Félix Leroy from the University Miguel Hernández of Alicante presented his work on social memory and social behaviour. To understand what happens in the brain during social interactions, he studies the reactions of lab mice when faced with an intruding mice, to measure how their brain regulates different behaviours. Rieke Stelkens from Stockholm University presented her research which examines the role of hybridisation as a potential process for generating genetic variation available for selection under environmental changes using yeast as a model system. One of her research questions is: can hybridization generate a new diversity in species? Özen Nergis Dolcerocca from the University of Bologna works is developing a new approach to the study of literary modernity across cultures by studying three great modern empires (Ottoman, Russian and Japanese), to analyze how their intellectuals dealt with the influence of Western literature and how new typologies emerged in modern fiction, which can lead to writing a new world history of literature.
During the afternoon sessions, Katalin Solymosi and Scott Bremer gave an update on the task forces that were created this year and presented what they have done so far, such as selecting activities to which the YAE can participate (Science Outreach Task Force) and designing tools that can encourage Transdisciplinarity (Td Task Force). Members asked questions about diversity within the YAE: this theme is clearly an important topic for members and forms an important aspect to work on for the board. The brainstorm session also underlined the importance of devising new ways of getting members to engage more into joint activities within the YAE.
New YAE Board
At the end of the afternoon, Katell Lavéant announced the results of the elections: Gemma Modinos and Moniek Tromp were re-elected in their positions of Chair and Vice-Chair, and three new board members were elected. We congratulate Artur Ciesielski, Anna Kuppuswamy and Linn Leppert and welcome them in the board. We also thank warmly Giulia Grancini, Arild Husby and Mangala Srivinas for their work in the board in the past years. The members present at the YAE also voted in favour of the election of Arild Husby to the Advisory Council of the YAE.
Participation to Building Bridges
Members of the board participated in the joint conference Building Bridges 2021 with the Academia Europeae (20-21 October 2021), in which the YAE was responsible for two sections on October 21. Marian Verhelst (Leuven University, BE) received the Andre Mischke YAE 2021 Prize for her research on microchips and AI and her contribution to research policy making and public outreach. Her presentation highlighted how policy making and education in STEM in Europe are essential tools in the research and development of microchips, a field of applied sciences that has a huge impact on daily life for European consumers.
The YAE also organised a panel on ‘Redefining Rewards and Recognitions for European Scholars’. Several specialists of European policies debated on moving away from a system that requires from researchers to focus on excelling in their individual research and publications and lacks incentives to get them to engage in activities that can be immensely valuable for the whole scholarly community and the general public but are not considered as top output (yet). Creative solutions such as distributing grants via randomised attribution or anonymised applications were discussed during this panel, as well as complex questions such as how to change assessment criteria for applications for funding and permanent positions in academia.