Professor Sierd Cloetingh elected new president of Academia Europaea#

At the annual business meeting in Barcelona, Sierd Cloetingh, at that point AE vice-president along with Ann Buttimer, was elected the new AE president (president of the board).

Professor Cloetingh gave a short presentation at both the AGM and at the conclusion of the main conference programme in which he outlined some of his priorities for the coming three years. Professor Cloetingh thanked the outgoing President (Lars Walløe) for his six years of stewardship of the Academia Europaea and in particular, thanked him for the substantial efforts in ensuring the better financial stability and the creation of three new regional hubs (Wroclaw, Poland; Barcelona, Spain and Bergen, Norway) that will form the basis for future developments within the AE community. Prof Cloetingh also thanked Prof. Walloe for enabling, together with Prof. Hermann Maurer, the creation of a major new membership web and data hub at the Technical University of Graz”.

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Academia Europaea thanks the outgoing president Lars Walløe and welcomes the new president Sierd Cloetingh!#



Statement by the President of the Academia Europaea – Professor Sierd Cloetingh#

I was deeply honoured by the unanimous support expressed by the members of our Academy when they recently voted at our 26th AGM , held in Barcelona, to elect me as the sixth President of this unique institution. The vision behind the founding of the Academia Europaea 25 years ago is still very much alive: bringing together scientists from the highest possible calibre, irrespective of their scientific discipline and country of residence in Europe, to address, in a bottom-up manner, cross-border scientific challenges and issues of common interest. In doing precisely this, Academia Europaea has created a unique platform bringing all too frequently separated scholars from the natural sciences and the humanities together. In doing so it has necessarily mixed cultures from different geographic areas of Europe. This has not only been a rich cultural and scientific experience for those that have been part of the process of building up Academia Europaea in the past 25 years, but it is also of vital importance in order to set the stage for truly interdisciplinary research and research training – one of the greatest challenges of the coming decades.

In my own field of science - Earth Sciences - Academia Europaea has served as the catalyst in setting the stage for many cross-border research initiatives in Europe. In this spirit, I have myself as Section chair under the auspices of AE, promoted with the Section, the creation of the pan-European collaborative research programme TOPO-EUROPE, now in existence for 10 years, which has generated research opportunities for close to 100 young researchers from all over Europe, attracting over 30 Million Euro of funding for collaborative multidisciplinary research , with great societal relevance in areas such as natural hazards and energy resources.

Promoting scientific excellence and seeing it spread over the whole of Europe, thereby making Europe a more attractive place to be for future researchers in a world of strong competition is another key priority. I have been very happy to contribute actively to this through my membership of the Scientific Council of the ERC, a body perceived widely as the flagship for identifying and selecting scientific research in a fully bottom-up spirit. Linking scientific excellence to innovation for the mutual benefit of both of them is another prime challenge, especially for Europe. Based on my experience as member and chair of ERC’s working group for industrial relationships and innovation, which developed the ERC Proof of Concept scheme, I envisage a pro-active role also here for Academia Europaea. I have also recently been honoured to be appointed as a Vice President of the ERC effective from 1 January 2015.

As promoter of close to 70 PhD students from 20 different nationalities including many from Central and Eastern Europe, I have always been very much impressed by the drive and the self-organising capacity of young researchers. It is also in this context that I am very pleased with the initiative of a group of ERC starting grantees to create the Young Academy of Europe under its first president Andre Mischke. I am very happy I have been able in my capacity as ERC Council member and Vice-President of Academia Europaea to facilitate the creation of this Young Academy and its affiliation to Academia Europaea. Under my Presidency we will work to support and build this younger base of European excellence.

The creation of the regional knowledge hubs is another novel development, spreading the organization of activities of Academia Europaea further all over Europe. The Wroclaw knowledge hub has been operational now for almost three years. It has a strong portfolio of new activities and regional links, especially in the humanities and the organization of the 25th Jubilee Academia Europaea annual conference last year. The staff there are working hard and will continue to get our support. The Barcelona knowledge hub has started more recently its activity, preparing a range of high profile events and links and has just delivered a wonderful annual assembly. A strong calendar of events is planned. In 2014 we have seen the successful launch of our third Hub. Our Norwegian colleagues have taken the initiative for this thematic hub in Bergen, with a possible focus on energy, resources and sustainability in the Arctic. We expect a lot from the team in Bergen. All these initiatives show the commitment of a broad segment of Europe’s scientific community to the Academia Europaea mission and the credit that Academia Europaea has built up. At the same time, it is evident that there is an increased need for coordination of the different activities of the regional knowledge hubs to ensure maximum synergy and benefit to the membership of Academia Europaea. It is here, where I see the need to strengthen the organizational base for the headquarters of our Academy in London.

I also see the need to reinforce the dialogue between the different sections. I strongly support the creation of a platform where the section chairs can meet to discuss issues of common interest, including cross section activities. I propose to better benefit from our multi-disciplinarity to bring together scholars and scientists from different fields for brain storming and a fruitful dialogue during our annual or ad hoc meetings. I will create new schemes to help support this.

We have to increase the involvement of the membership, and we will work with our Sections to deliver a more effective and efficient system for cross disciplinary exchanges, events and also widen the franchise of the members through establishing electronic ballots.

This brings me to the final issue: the financial base of Academia Europaea. Obtaining funding for an Academy as such is not a trivial matter, as experienced by numerous previous presidents. Securing funding for attractive activities, with an outward looking perspective is obviously key. At the same time, we need to fully mobilize the membership at large, benefitting of the synergy of Academia Europaea and the Young Academy of Europe. Common efforts by the London office and the regional knowledge hubs are essential here.

Summarizing: I see the following priorities for the new President and the Board;

  • Widening and intensifying participation of the membership, promoting synergy between Academia Europaea and the Young Academy of Europe.
  • Strengthening the role of the sections, enhancing their effectiveness and interaction.
  • Strengthening the internal organization and financial sustainability of Academia Europaea.

I hope over the coming weeks as we head to the close of 2014, my Board and I will set up a number of consultations with you the members, on a new business plan for the AE and also announce plans for a radical re-orientation of our structures and some aspects of our governance so that we can set the stage for a dynamic future development period.

I intend to try to publish regular (electronic) newsletters to keep you in touch. So please do make sure that your contact details are up-to-date in our database and keep your personal webspace topped up with news and information and interesting news.

Sierd Cloetingh Utrecht August 2014


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Nominator’s Supporting Statement for Sierd Cloettingh#

Anne Buttimer, Chair of the Social Sciences Section and AE Vice-President
Moshe Yaniv, Outgoing Chair, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Section

We would like to express our heartfelt support for the candidature of Professor Sierd Cloetingh as the incoming president of Academia Europaea for a number of reasons.

Professor Cloetingh is a distinguished scientist and scholar in the field of earth sciences who has gained world recognition for the excellence of his research. He has trained a generation of young scientists and has received an impressive number of international awards and honorary degrees.

At the European level Prof Cloetingh has been an extremely active promoter of Europe-wide scientific collaborations through a number of extremely successful projects. Among these the “Topo Europe” endeavour has evoked a broad cross-disciplinary interest in landscape and life throughout the continent. He is a member of the European Research Council and has been President of the European Geophysical Society.

He has been of a member of our Academy for more than 20 years, chairing the Section of Earth and Cosmic Sciences for 10 years and acting as a member of the council since 1999. For the past five years he has served as AE Vice-President and is therefore well apprised of the various challenges and opportunities facing Academia. Through our activities as section chairs and members of the council we have always been impressed by Prof Cloetingh’s deep commitment to the Academy and to all of its wide-ranging interests. We were always impressed by his vision and his extremely useful contributions to the activities of the council. He has not only promoted existing section agenda, but has also encouraged innovation, serving as a vital contact person with the Young Academy of Europe.

It is this rare combination of an extremely creative scientist, an excellent organizer and a man of vision that motivates us to support him as our next president. We are confident that he could lead the Academy forward in all of its pan-European activities, to increase the impact of the Academy in the European research area and to further build up its distinguished membership.

Sierd Cloetingh - Biographical note#

Sierd Cloetingh is Royal Netherlands Academy Professor of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University. He published more than 250 papers in international peer-reviewed journals and has been promotor of more than 65 PhD students of 20 different nationalities. He served the Earth Science community in various functions, including Presidency of the European Geophysical Society. He is currently the President of the International Lithosphere Programme, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal “Global and Planetary Change” and Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the ESF Large Scale Collaborative Research Programme (EUROCORES) TOPO-EUROPE. He received honorary doctorates from five European universities and numerous honours and awards, including the Holmes Medal and Stephan Mueller Medal of the European Geosciences Union, Fellow and Honorary Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, the Leopold von Buch Medal of the German Geological Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize. He is member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and Foreign member of the Royal Norwegian Academy of Sciences, the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences, the Heidelberg Academy, the Bavarian Academy and the German Academy for Technical Sciences, Acatech. In 2006 he was distinguished as Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur for his contributions to science and European scientific cooperation in research and education.

He was elected member of Academia Europaea in 1994 and served Academia Europaea as Chair of the Earth and Marine and Earth and Cosmic Sciences Sections. In 2008 he was elected by the Council as Vice-President of Academia Europaea. He is a member of the Scientific Council of the ERC since 2009.

In April 2014 he was awarded the honour ‘Order of the Netherlands Lion (Knight)’ on H.M. the King’s birthday. This is to honour outstanding individuals in science, arts and literature.
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