Letter to AE and YAE members and guests from the President Sierd Cloetingh#
Dear fellow members of the Academia Europaea, members of the Young Academy and guest readers,#
I am pleased to bring you up-to-date on the many events and issues that have taken place or will take place since my last letter.
Firstly, on the policy front, there have been some significant developments. I am pleased to announce that the AE, ALLEA, EASAC, FEAM and Euro-CASE have agreed to improve our collective capability for giving rapid and timely science policy advice to the European Institutions. The Presidents of these five organisations will meet in Berlin on 26 March to consolidate this collaboration. We are also exploring the possibility to share some “bureau” facilities in Brussels, to better deliver on our new co-operation in the policy arena.
As part of the overall strategy to improve our visibility and engagement on European policy – I am pleased to announce, that Prof. Hermann Maurer has co-organised a conference in Brussels on 4-5 March, which will address “Global Challenges-Global Collaboration”. The event has been specifically targeted at European Parliamentarians and Commission officers and we will take the opportunity to meet with and discuss how AE might assist the Parliament and others in “anticipating the Future”. I am most grateful to all our Section Chairs who have provided me with two slides, illustrating their take on emerging challenges and potential scientific breakthroughs for Europe in the coming few years.
We also recently published a statement in response to the Commission President’s proposals to amend the Horizon2020 and ERC budgets, in order to fund the activities of the new European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI).
The YAE have also published their own statement, alongside those of other organisations (notably ALLEA, EuroScience, Science Europe). Our statement can be read via our home page.
Finally on policy, I was pleased and gratified to hear that Prof. Harm Pinkster (section chair for Classics and Oriental Studies) recently organised a meeting with our other humanities section chairs, to discuss how to better coordinate and stimulate the AE humanities and social sciences, especially with regard to engaging in European policy topics. The Board is looking forward to hearing the outcomes and the group’s recommendation in Wroclaw on 19 – 20 March.
Secondly, 19 – 20 March is an important date. Not only will the Board meet, but we will hold our first ever Regional AE members’ discussion forum. I am hopeful that around 25-30 members from the Visegrad countries and other countries will attend. This is an informal opportunity to forge new contacts and collaborations and to discuss how the Hub can meet the needs of our members in the coming two years. The event will also be where members will meet local partners of the Hub and I will also take the opportunity to meet with the Mayor and to sign the renewal of our Hub agreement.
Whilst I am talking about the Eastern countries' AE members: I am pleased to be able to announce that our members based in the Republic of Serbia have organised themselves into a formal Serbian Chapter of the AE. I would like to thank Profs Djordje Sijacki and Mirjana Radovic-Markovic for agreeing to be the inaugural President and “General Secretary” for the new Chapter. We are all looking forward to seeing proposals for new initiatives and a strengthening of our membership across that region. However, you may not be aware, that this is actually our second “Chapter”. We have a very, very long standing Russia Club of AE members, the chief amongst them being Prof. Vladimir Skulachev, the founding and continuing key organiser of the annual AE Russia Prizes scheme for young Russian scholars. A similar but larger scheme to the annual Burgen Scholars awards, but with some additions.
Thirdly, In January, I visited Cardiff University in Wales, at the invitation of Prof. Ole Petersen (Trustee and class chair for the life sciences sections) to deliver a lecture in the Cardiff School of Biosciences (the Sir Martin Evans Building). During that visit, I was able to meet with a number of regional AE members and with the Vice Chancellor. We discussed ongoing plans for the opening of a third ‘AE regional centre’. Although details are not yet completed, I can report here that one of the priorities will be for the new centre to seek to re-organise, co-ordinate and stimulate our Academy life sciences class of sections. This new centre will have a somewhat different approach to that of our existing’ Knowledge Hubs’. As the practical detail emerges, you will be kept fully informed, including with an opportunity to discuss the new centre at our Darmstadt Annual Business Meeting of members, on 7 September ( by the way - please look at the event webpage http://www.ae2015.eu). – registration for Darmstadt will open in early April, but you can already book your hotel).
Also in connection with Cardiff: I am pleased to already be able to announce an event organised by the proto Cardiff Centre – that takes place on 25-26 March, and is entitled “New Challenges in the Biomedical Sciences”. All AE members will be very welcome and the event can be found on the AE home page.
I have also just returned from a major visit to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS), at the invitation of Prof. Balazs Gulyas (Trustee and Erasmus Medal search group co-ordinator). I can report now that the visit went extremely well and I am confident that I will be able to make some (very) significant announcements towards the summer. During my two days in Budapest I had meetings with Prof. Laszlo Lovasz MAE, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS), Prof. Jozsef Palinkas MAE, former President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and President of the recently established Hungarian Research, Development and Innovation Office, Prof. Sir George Radda MAE, FRS, former Chief Executive of the British Medical Research Council and the Chairman Emeritus of Singapore's A*STAR, as well as with a number of Hungarian members of Academia Europaea, and Prof. Eva Kondorosi, one of the Scientific Council members of the ERC and chair of its working group “widening European participation”. We intend to organise an in-country members’ event later in the year and I will also participate in the World Science Forum „The Enabling Power of Science” hosted by the HAS, in Budapest from 4-7 November.
I have also accepted an invitation as President of the AE, to speak at the ALLEA 2015 general assembly meeting that takes place in Lisbon on 23 April. My title will be “Challenges and opportunities for science in Europe: perspectives from the ERC and Academia Europaea".
Finally. Forgive me an indulgence. The ERC has formally announced the appointment of its Vice Presidents for the coming term and I was honoured and humbled to have been appointed as one of two Vice Presidents. My remit covers Physical Sciences and Engineering (you can read the full press release here: http://erc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/press_release/files/erc_pr_2015_renewal_scc.pdf.
Now a few key reminders:#
Number 1. Nomination of candidates for membership. The online nomination system will close to submissions on 30 April. This is an absolute deadline. New members will be announced at the AGM in Darmstadt on 7 September.
Number 2. The 2015 New Initiatives Fund. The OPEN Call for proposals for proposals from members (including the YAE) is still open. You can submit short proposals to access grants from the new initiatives fund. These small grants (of up to 5K Euros max.) will be to facilitate delivery of new activities; to lever external sponsorship for larger activities, to secure the involvement of the AE and YAE in larger collaborative activities and to support beneficial collaborations with other organisations. The full details are on the AE website.
Number 3. The 2015 AE-Wenner Gren Foundations HERCuLES symposium in Stockholm – “Emerging Models of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: From Books to MOOCs?”. 21 – 23 May. There are only 20 or so places left – no registration fee – please come along. See our home page for full information.
Number 4. Upcoming ‘Womensday’ and related events. International Women’s Day workshop and cultural events – Barcelona Hub, 4 March. Also, the YAE workshop “Pathways to Excellence: Experiences of Illuminating Women in Science” – Uppsala, 20 April.
I think that is enough for now. But I would like to invite members to email me at any time with comments, advice and suggestions. This also applies, [perhaps especially] to contacting your Section Chairs!
Sierd Cloetingh, Utrecht