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Leadership change at Young Academy Leiden

As every academic year, the leadership team of the Young Academy Leiden is changing. As of September 2022, dr. Sarah Giest (Associate Professor, Institute of Public Administration), former Vice-Chair, will be the Chair of YAL. And dr. ir. Julia Cramer (Assistant Professor, Science Communication and Society & Leiden Institute of Physics) will be the new Vice-Chair.

This means we will say goodbye to dr. Annemarie Samuels (Associate Professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences) as a member of the leadership team, but of course not as a member of YAL. We thank Annemarie for facilitating a vibrant early-career community and her continued commitment to YAL. Luckily, dr. Cathelijn Waaijer (Policy Advisor, Central and Administration Services) will continue to be the project manager of YAL and complete the 3-person leadership team throughout the upcoming year. 

Cathelijn, as a project manager you have seen YAL grow over the past three years. What do you think is its biggest accomplishment so far? 

Cathelijn: definitely the community work YAL has been doing for the past three years. In the first year that YAL existed, two members started a Young Faculty Lunch in their own faculty. Here, assistant professors and associate professors from different institutes gathered and could talk about the challenges they face. Such initiatives exist for groups such as PhD candidates, and full professors take part in many networks. Assistant professors often work more within their own institute and fewer networks exist for them. We received such a positive response from the attendees that other members set up Young Faculty Lunches in their own faculties, and we also organize Young Interfaculty Lunches for the entire community of young academics.

What does it mean to you to be the new Chair/ Vice-Chair of YAL?

Sarah: I am excited to take on this position in collaboration with Julia and Cathelijn. YAL members have worked hard these last three years to make the early-career community more visible - to university leadership as well as create connections among colleagues in the various Faculties and institutes. As part of the leadership team and as the Chair, I have the ability to shape some of that work and facilitate initiatives that address current issues. This means being visible in the community in different ways, such as organizing and attending events, highlighting challenges with the university leadership and being an active partner in discussions that shape the future of university in both Leiden and the Hague. 

Julia: It is really an honor to have a place in the leadership team, together with Sarah and Cathelijn. I have learned a lot from the past two years being a YAL-member, working with motivated and ambitious early-career researchers from all faculties at Leiden University on goals that shape the future of academia. I feel we represent the community of early-career researchers and connect them with common goals. As a member of the Science Faculty I find it very insightful to discuss and improve the more invisible aspects of academic work, such as internal cultures, unwritten rules and policy and to learn from academics in other disciplines.

What will be your main goals/work as being the chair / vice-chair?

Sarah: My main goal will be to further the early-career community across Faculties at Leiden and The Hague, but also beyond our university by establishing closer relationships within the LDE network. Over the past three years, we have seen that challenges we face as ECRs are very similar and that there is a lot to be learned by talking about individual, university-based and systemic solutions to learn and grow. We have also recently changed our organizational structure to include, beyond the pillars of interdisciplinarity, outreach and policy, a dedicated group for ‘community and communication’. This new group serves as an umbrella that closely works with all three workgroups on the community and communication related aspects of their activities. This group focuses specifically on communicating with the early-career community, developing the YAL bulletin, the organization of inter-faculty events (YAL Tea & Talk, September 8th) as well as includes the editorial committee of the blog Voices of Young Academics. My goal is to facilitate the establishment of the community and communication umbrella and thereby enhance visibility and with it community among ECRs.

Julia: With a growing group of YAL members, my main goal will be to increase the connection to all early-career researchers at Leiden University and not only to share thoughts, activities and actions with the community as a whole, but also connect to relevant sub-groups. I’d like to increase bonding between ECR’s within faculties and institutes. With our interfaculty lunches I hope to keep discussing important issues between ECRs and relevant people at the university and with faculty lunches I hope to enhance more locally relevant activities. 

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