President's page#

Sierd Cloetingh

Letter to AE and YAE members and guests from the President Sierd Cloetingh#

March 2021#

We have all been hoping, that with the start of the mass vaccination programmes across Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic would come to an end, slowly, as spring approaches. Instead, now a number of countries seem to be in the third wave, with more infections than before and the emergence of new, more infectious COVID variants. I hope that you agree with me, that mass vaccination is the only current option if we are to eradicate this pandemic. We must acknowledge the heroic work of the scientists who have worked on vaccine development, and discovered how the virus works and how it affects the human body. It is a triumph of scientific achievement.

So, even though we are still in unclear waters, I am pleased to announce that we will definitely hold a 2021 AE annual member conference in October. It will again be run under the theme of Building Bridges and our Barcelona Hub will provide the hosting focus. I am also pleased that the Young Academy of Europe (YAE) will again play a part in the programme. Recognising the situation, the conference will have to be a virtual event, as the future COVID travel restrictions are still unknown and are likely still to be complex, even by October. But we hope to provide full details of all sessions, speakers and the registration procedures in late May. But as of now, the timetable will be as follows:

During the week of 11 October, our four classes - Humanities (Chair Poul Holm); Social and Societal Sciences (Chair Björn Wittrock); Exact Sciences (Chair Don Dingwell) and Life sciences (Chair Alex Verkhratsky) will organise [with their Section committees] and run four separate Class meetings online. The focus, will be on new members elected in 2020. But of course the Class sessions will be open for any member to “attend”. These Class sessions will include a welcome and short presentations by new members and also an outstanding keynote speaker(s)/ discussion session.

Then, on 20th and 21st of October, we will run the virtual plenary conference of the AE. This will be open to all AE and YAE members. We have a programme of outstanding AE speakers. Including; Roger Penrose (2020 Erasmus Medal winner and recent Nobel Laureate - Mathematics and Physics), Quentin Skinner (Balzan Prize winner - Social and European History), Mara Dierssen (Cognition, behaviour and health), Don Dingwell (Munich Hub Director, Hon. Vice president and trustee -Volcanology), Ole Petersen (AE Hon. Vice president, Cardiff Hub Director and AE Gold medallist - Physiology) and Susan Trumbore (Balzan prize winner – Carbon cycling in plants and soils) We will also have a Young Academy Panel debate and the presentation of the YAE Andre Mischke Prize for 2021. So, please put the dates in your diary.

Other high points:#

  • The call for nominations for the Young Academy Andre Mischke Prize is open (AE members may nominate younger scholars as candidates) - see our home page announcement.

Prizes and awards#

I am also pleased to report that the following AE members have recently won a major international prize:

2021 Wolf Prize: Professor Joan Steitz (Medicine) and Professor Giorgio Parisi (Physics).

Professor Joan Steitz and Professor Giorgio Parisi
Professor Joan Steitz and Professor Giorgio Parisi


Finally, it is with profound sadness that we have been notified of the passing of the following members:

Paul Crutzen (Nobel Laureate – Ozone hole)
Vladimir Fortov (former President of the Russian Academy of Sciences - Physics)
Lewis Wolpert (Developmental Biology)
Peter Lachmann (immunology)
Aleksandra Kornhauser Frazer (Chemistry)
Jean Aubouin (Medieval oriental history)
Heinz Georg Wagner (Chemistry)
John Meurig Thomas (Catalysis)
Rudolf Zahradník (Quantum Chemistry)
Alexander S. Spirin (Protein chemistry)

Yours sincerely

Sierd Cloetingh
Utrecht, 10 March 2021

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