Photo: Thaler Tamas

Professor Sierd Cloetingh will end his term as President of the Academia Europaea at the end of December 2021, having served the Academy in this role for the past 7 years. The Young Academy of Europe congratulates and expresses its warmest gratitude to Professor Cloetingh, who has been a pivotal figure in the advancement of the YAE since its founding days.

The YAE has had the pleasure of closely collaborating with Professor Cloetingh since the very beginning of the YAE in 2012. During this time, the YAE established further links and fruitful collaborations with Professor Cloetingh through, for example, the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA), the Academia Europaea (AE), and the European Collaboration in Science & Technology (COST).

Professor Cloetingh has made breakthrough contributions to science. Not only through his pioneering scientific research in the area of earth sciences, but also through his visionary and robust approach to shaping Europe’s science funding arena and science policy. His dedication to making Europe an attractive place for researchers worldwide is evidenced by the many distinguished posts he has held (President AE, Vice-President ERC, President SAPEA, President COST) and proactively filled with original and pragmatic ideas that have created tangible impacts, for instance through the creation of the Proof of Concept (ERC-PoC) program and the COST Innovator Grant.

His constructive ideas have been widely implemented over the past decade, helping a large number of researchers and especially early-career scientists in Europe to 1) establish themselves as independent researchers, 2) network with scientists across the disciplines, 3) efficiently engage with industry without losing sight of their fundamental research, and 4) actively engage with science policy.

Through his role as President of the AE (2014-2021) and COST (2017-2019), among others, and his friendly and welcoming character, the YAE has had the opportunity to frequently exchange thoughts and ideas with Professor Cloetingh in the context of Europe’s science policy in general, and particularly concerning the challenges that early-career researchers face today.

Professor Cloetingh is an internationally leading figure on many levels, with an extraordinary talent to foster the next generation of scientists in Europe and beyond. His enthusiastic support for young researchers has been particularly striking and refreshing in today’s competitive research environment. One example is the YAE itself. Professor Cloetingh worked closely with our Founding Chair André Mischke† to create the YAE. Since then, he has been a great supporter of our grassroots initiative, and solid figure for us to seek advice without imposing his signature during the formation of the YAE and beyond. He had further impact by generously guiding/mentoring our founding member and former chair Professor Nicole Grobert, who was selected as Member (May 2018) and Chair (November 2020) of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to the European Commission – a testament of his ability to see and create opportunities, and translate them into success.

Professor Cloetingh gave a warm farewell speech during our recent AGM in Barcelona in October 2021 (see below photo), where we had the opportunity to thank him in person for his valuable contributions to help the YAE be where it is today. Reflections on his time as President of the Academia can also be found on this excellent interview by the Academia Europaea Cardiff Knowledge hub.

YAE Chair Gemma Modinos gives a farewell present to Professor Sierd Cloetingh at the 2021 YAE AGM. We also had the pleasure to welcome the new AE President Elect, Professor Marja Makarow.