University of Groningen: The Young Academy Groningen welcomes seven new members

The Young Academy Groningen welcomes seven new members. The Young Academy Groningen (YAG) is a group of talented, enthusiastic and ambitious early-career researchers from various disciplines at the University of Groningen (UG) and the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). Members share a passion for science and scholarship and its broader impacts on academia and society.

Members of the Young Academy Groningen generate and elaborate on their ideas together with researchers spanning all disciplines, forge interdisciplinary ties and set up joint projects. They contribute to scientific policy and engage in activities with the broader public. Over the past year, due to COVID-19 regulations, these activities have mainly taken place online but have nonetheless been very successful in bringing early-career researchers together to discuss ideas regarding the Rewards & Recognition programme and to explore interdisciplinary collaborations.

Dr. Leonieke Bolderman, Faculty of Spatial Sciences
Ever since learning to play a musical instrument in my youth, I have been fascinated by the power of music. During my PhD I analyzed contemporary music tourism – the phenomenon of people travelling because of a connection with music – finding out why music figuratively and literally moves people. Besides music tourism, I currently explore the role of art and culture in urban development, exploring how a local cultural scene, cultural heritage, and tourism all contribute to a changing urban environment. To this purpose, the past years I have lived parttime in Detroit, USA, where I studied the role of music heritage, tourism and nightlife in the development of this fascinating city.

My background and research topics are thoroughly interdisciplinary, and this is what also attracts me to YAG: the opportunity to bring researchers together across fields in order to stimulate research innovation, for example on the topic of research methods. I am also driven to contribute to another area that YAG is active in: to encourage and support the diverse community of UG ECR’s in navigating their academic careers through policy development, training and by gathering and sharing experiences.

Dr. Sean Desjardins, Faculty of Arts
I am an anthropological archaeologist focusing on the long-term development of traditional Inuit lifeways in the Arctic. In October, I will begin an appointment as Assistant Professor in the Arctic Centre and Groningen Institute of Archaeology (Faculty of Arts), where I have worked as an NWO Veni postdoctoral researcher since 2019. Through my current project, I examine the effects of recent-historic colonialism and climate change on Inuit hunting strategies and food security in central Nunavut, Canada. The work is fundamentally interdisciplinary, linking Indigenous knowledge systems, archaeological science, history and ethnographic engagement. In addition to my archaeological work, I currently represent the Netherlands in the Sustainable Development Working Group of the Arctic Council.

I am thrilled to be joining the Young Academy Groningen, and hope to promote—in multiple ways—inter- and transdisciplinary research, as well as advocate for improved conditions for early-career researchers. I am proud to have been part of the inaugural cohort of the Young Arts Network (YARN), and am looking forward to working with and learning from colleagues across the university.

Dr. Alberto Godioli, Faculty of Arts
I am a senior lecturer in European Culture and Literature at the Faculty of Arts, and the programme director of the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL). I am currently principal investigator of two interdisciplinary projects on humour and free speech jurisprudence – namely ‘Rethinking Offensive Humour and Its Legal Regulation’ (NWO Vidi, 2022-2027) and ‘Cartoons in Court’ (NETIAS, 2020-2023). From jokes to memes, humorous expression is often at the centre of legal cases revolving around freedom of expression and its limits. The basic idea behind my research is that insights from the humanities can contribute to a fairer, more consistent approach to the subjectivity of humour in courts of law.

In my work on humour and the law I maintain a close dialogue with free speech organisations, NGOs and artists’ platforms. Over the years, I also had many opportunities to discuss these topics with a broader public, which was another major source of inspiration for my projects. In short, I believe outreach and public engagement are vital for academic research. On the other hand, academic insights are just as necessary in order to promote an informed, inclusive and nuanced public debate – especially so in our increasingly polarised times. The Young Academy’s constant effort to connect academia and society, along with its emphasis on diversity and inclusion, played a key role in my decision to apply for membership. It’s an honour to join the YAG team, and I very much look forward to giving my contribution.

Dr. Sander van Lanen, Faculty of Spatial Sciences
My primary interest is the relationships between people and places in cities. I aim to understand the distribution of economic, cultural, and political opportunities. As an assistant professor in cultural geography at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences, my goal is to use my teaching and research to inspire an engagement to make places more equitable, sustainable, and inclusive.

As a researcher, I investigate how the spaces of everyday life interact with political and economic transformations at larger spatial scales. For my doctoral research, for example, I showed how austerity policies rolled out throughout Ireland impacted specifically on disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods and the opportunities for youth living there. However, I also research the other way around, such as how interventions at local or regional levels can contribute to empowerment, participation, and wellbeing. With my research, I aim to understand and improve the role of place in meeting people’s needs and desires.

I look forward to inspire and be inspired in the Young Academy Groningen. Not only by discussing academic developments and societal issues with other members, but also by creatively engaging with broader publics and policymakers. The YAG provides an exciting environment to explore our role in the university and the university’s role in the society of which it is a part.

Dr. Jolien Mouw, Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences
I am an assistant professor in Educational Sciences at the GION Education/Research (Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences). My research and teaching focus on educational innovation, instructional design of interactive learning environments, and purposeful implementation of learning technologies. In this process, I find it important to consider both the learning processes of the learner and the professionalization needs of teachers, for example with regard to the teacher skills needed to effectively implement simulations, educational learning technologies, or hybrid/blended teaching practices.

As a former primary school teacher and as a Comenius Teaching Fellow, I am specifically interested in bridging theory and practice and meaningfully connecting research and society. I believe that the YAG offers an exciting platform for young scientists who share these ambitions. Membership provides a much-welcomed opportunity to extend my involvement in our university’s diverse academic community and to engage in meaningful interdisciplinary interactions with other young scientists.

I hope to contribute to the policy working group by engaging in a constructive dialogue about science policy in its broadest sense. I find it important to strike a meaningful balance between strengthening the diversity of academic skills we value today and what we believe will be core research and teaching skills in the future.

Dr. Naomi de Ruiter, University College Groningen
I am an assistant professor at the University College Groningen, and my background is in developmental psychology. My research focuses primarily on how psychological phenomena related to identity are enacted in real-life social interactions, and how they can be conceptualized and studied as processes that are situated in time and context. To study this, I use complex dynamic systems and discursive psychological methods and theories. I also aim to support a process approach in psychology more broadly, and I am interested in studying research practices as an object of study themselves. I seek to understand the ontological and epistemological assumptions, norms, and values that research practices construct and are contingent upon. Related to this, I am passionate about interdisciplinarity in research and the plurality that it can bring to research.

I am excited to join the Young Academy Groningen community, and I look forward to supporting a collaborative and supportive academia that nourishes innovation, inclusivity, and compassion. In particular, I will seek to contribute to the support of interdisciplinary collaborations in research, inclusive hiring and promotion procedures, flexible reward and recognition for early-career talent, and an academic culture that prioritizes individuals’ well-being and mental health.


Dr. Riemer Vegter, Faculty of Medical Sciences
My name is Riemer Vegter and I am Assistant Professor in Human Movement Sciences at the UMCG, coordinating the Paralympic research lab where we study the biomechanics and physiology of wheelchair athletes. As a new YAG-member I am very eager to connect with researchers from other disciplines in order to broaden my perspectives and together perform innovative research.

My interest in interdisciplinary research is already inherent to my work, since understanding human movement within the context of disability and healthcare not only entails understanding the working and control of the human body. For instance, the YAG will help me connect with other researchers on psychological, ethical, engineering and cost-effectiveness aspects.

Vice-versa, I would love the chance to collaborate on new projects combining different disciplines, which I believe to be a strong push for innovation. To these collaborations I will bring a lot of technological and scientific knowledge on the measurement, analyses and consequent feedback of human behaviour within and outside the lab.

My strong interdisciplinary research skills, proven teaching excellence, and outreach experience will make me an excellent ambassador of the University of Groningen. Hopefully the YAG will help me reach and inspire a new audience that will become interested for science and research.

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