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Meet the Faculty's new Research Policy Adviser: Jimmy Mans

Following the retirement of Roswitha Manning, a vacancy arose at Faculty of Archaeology for the role of Research Policy Advisor. We found one in the person of Jimmy Mans, a well known face for longer-serving Faculty staff. In this interview we reconnect with Jimmy, who calls himself ‘a homegrown Leiden archaeologist.’

From Suriname to NWO

Jimmy Mans finished his BA and MPhil, as well as his PhD at the Leiden Faculty of Archaeology. ‘As an archaeology student I also studied indigenous languages of the Americas, which led me to completing a PhD with a focus on contemporary indigenous archaeology and mobility in Suriname, in Corinne Hofman's Caribbean research group.’ After the PhD he worked at the National Museum of World Cultures with Laura van Broekhoven and Martin Berger, where he was involved as a researcher in several community consultation projects. ‘Then I returned to the Faculty on a number of postdoc projects in the Caribbean research group. Firstly broadening the project in the Guianas and subsequently moving the focus to indigenous histories and heritage in the Lesser Antilles. After these projects concluded I became involved again briefly in Surinamese collection research again at the National Museum of World Cultures.

On his last trip to the Suriname’s interior, however, Jimmy experienced a crash landing in a small Cessna plane, which developed over time into flight anxiety.  ‘Largely as a result of this I drifted further away from my original Caribbean research focus, while becoming more and more interested in broader societal and theoretical themes. Since my time as a member of the Faculty's Research Committee, I have always liked reflecting on a variety of inspiring grant proposals.’ This interest brought Jimmy to NWO where he came to work as a secretary on the Talent programmes, and ultimately ended up co-leading the Vidi team of Social Sciences and Humanities. ‘Together with the team I managed and monitored the application process and procedures covering all academic fields in the social sciences and humanities. In my last year there I was asked to join an NWA archaeology programme as an advisor which I enjoyed very much. When I heard Roswitha Manning was retiring, I decided to go for her position. In this new position I see many of the things I really enjoy doing coming together.’

A diverse role

Jimmy's role at the Faculty of Archaeology will be a diverse one. ‘Since we are relatively small as a Faculty, I will wear several hats in research and policy roles: policy advisor on research, part of the research support office in the role of grant advisor, but also helping out in the coordination of the Graduate School.’ One other thing he would like to contribute to is the postdoc community. ‘From my own experience as a postdoc, I realise the importance of connecting to fellow postdocs. Compared with the PhDs, this group of researchers find themselves in a different phase in life and career which comes with different needs.’

The Research Support Office is a relatively new organisational unit that is intended to help researchers with all kinds of questions. ‘Are you thinking of applying for a grant? Then you do not need to contact all relevant support colleagues individually, you can just contact the Research Support Office. The Research Support Team comprises a research data management officer, the privacy officer, project controller, etc.’ Jimmy explains. ‘But we will also strive to contact researchers pro-actively who are eligible to apply for a grant. If desired I am more than happy to think along in terms of grant applications and strategy. Just reach out to me.’

Research policy

Alongside his role in research support, Jimmy will also focus on the Faculty's research policy and be Secretary of the Research Committee. ‘In this role I will also try to make the necessary connections with other Faculties and learn about their approaches concerning  research policy matters.’ And what about Jimmy's own research? ‘For now my plate is more than full and I will focus fully on the tasks above, but when I have reached a satisfying balance I might well start exploring new research avenues on the side.’

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