President's page#

Sierd Cloetingh

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

May 2020#

Dear AE member, member of the Young Academy and guest readers,#

As I write, our Section committees are hard at work carrying out their peer review assessments of the nominations for membership. This year we had a record number of nominations – over 420 scholars from across the continent and further afield. The Section chairs will meet virtually in their respective Classes to discuss and carry out quality reviews across the Section lists, and to arrive at a consolidated Class list. These lists will then be proposed to the Board of trustees who will elect the new 2020 members. Our excellent team in Graz will then start the invitation and acceptance process for the new members.

Sadly we have had to cancel the October annual conference and induction of new members this year. But I can announce that the event will take place from 19 – 21 October 2021, in Barcelona. So, at that time we will formally welcome all members elected in 2020 and in 2021. At the delayed conference, we will present the 2020 Erasmus Medal to Roger Penrose the eminent mathematician (click here for information), a further (2021) Erasmus medal (to the recipient from the current open call – closing date is at the end of September 2020) and the delayed Gold award of the AE to Ole Petersen, made for his significant contributions to the AE since our establishment in 1988. Ole was one of the first members. in 2021 we will also present the third bi-ennial international AE-Adam Kondorosi Advanced Prize for Plant Sciences. The Young Academy will also present their delayed 2020 Mischke Prize to Grant Hill-Cawthorne (see the press release) who is the Director of the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) which provides Scientific analyses and advice to the Parliament.

Hypatia Prize
Our Barcelona Hub have posted information about the re-scheduled award of the second International AE-Barcelona HYPATIA prize for excellence in Science. The call for nominations for this 50,000 Euro prize has been extended and is still open.

A number of our major international symposia planned for 2020 have also been postponed and will be re-scheduled. A HERCuLES-Wenner Gren Foundation event on Internationalisation in Higher Education in Uppsala was moved to November 11 – 13 this year, alongside several Events from the Humanities Class in Wroclaw. The symposium on ICONOCLASM organised by Nikita Harwich (History), will now take place 10-12 May 2021.

You will receive a general newsletter about all of these events. Please look regularly at the AE-INFO website, where updates are posted and also the Regional Knowledge Hub websites.

I am pleased to be able to announce that two more long-planned Regional Knowledge Hubs will be formally signed into existence towards the end of this year. I am looking forward to this latest exciting phase of development. The new Budapest Hub will be hosted by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and will have Professor László Lovasz as the Academic Director. The Munich Hub will have Professor Don Dingwell as the Academic Director. More detailed information about these Hubs and their missions, priorities and programmes will be circulated in due course. Our Bergen Hub, under the Academic Directorship of Professor Eystein Jansen, has assisted the Executive Secretary to complete the formation of a new legal identity for the AE, in Norway. This is a wholly owned subsidiary company of the Academia Europaea, and forms a part of our BREXIT impact planning. The new entity is based at the Hub and will start to function as the AE Project management centre for any future EU funded projects that the AE partners or leads.

We are all working under new situations and pressures and I would like to thank our Executive Secretary who is keeping the ship afloat in glorious lockdown somewhere on the periphery of London. I would especially like to thank the Graz team who are managing the nominations, assessment and elections processes seamlessly during these difficult times and maintaining the website. I know also that all of our other Hubs are continuing to work for our benefit in a similar way under diverse pressures and you can keep in touch through the individual Hub websites.

COVID-19 has not meant closure and suspension of research for our members. We have established an information page listing reliable sources of information from reputable organisations. We are also compiling an inventory of research publications from our members, not just in the life sciences, but also across the Social Sciences as well.

If any members are involved in current research, or have published in fields relevant to the current pandemic, please send Juliet Davies at the Cardiff Hub and Dana Kaiser in Graz the details.

You will recently have received a call for nominations for experts for the latest SAPEA topic that AE is leading on. Louise Edwards and the Cardiff team are working as efficiently as ever on our behalf. My thanks to them. Our SAPEA project work is continuing and our expertise is much valued by the Commission and the Group of Chief Scientific Advisers. In fact, I am pleased to report here that our Trustee and member Eva Kondorosi was recently appointed to this important group.

I am pleased to be able to report that the AE’s Translational Medicine project (supported by the AE 2019 Hubert Curien Fund) has been brought to a successful conclusion with the publication of the final report, as a substantial full paper (25 pages), in the Journal of Clinical Medicine (fully Open Access journal). The project was supported by the Cardiff Knowledge Hub. Direct link to the article:

Our member Peter Hegyi, did a fantastic job in bringing all this together. The most crucial element was the immensely successful and indeed magnificent meeting of the Working Group held at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest in September 2019. The News item mentioned above also has a link to an attractively and very professionally produced youtube video (organized by Peter’s staff at the University of Pecs) with footage from the WG meeting and interviews with key members of the WG. We are hoping to be able to issue a call for proposals for new Curien fund ideas later in the autumn. The Cardiff Hub is now in the process of organizing, together with Peter, a webinar to communicate further the principal outcomes of the project. Keep an eye open for announcements in both the Cardiff Hub webpage and the website.

European Review
Our journal - The European Review, is the official journal of the Academia Europaea. It is published six times a year, approximately 140 to 160 pp per issue, by Cambridge UP. Theo D’haen is our Editor-in-Chief and has asked me to make a direct appeal to you – the members. The journal is double-blind peer reviewed - submissions are through the electronic portal ScholarOne. As the journal - in accordance with the mission of the AE - invites submissions in all fields and disciplines of science and scholarship Theo needs a dedicated team of associate editors willing to process and evaluate submissions in ScholarOne. Most submissions are in the fields of the Social Sciences and Humanities, less frequently in Life Sciences or Exact and Applied Sciences. At present there are three associate editors, one in Humanities (literature), one in Social Sciences (economics), and one in Exact Sciences (physics). Ideally he would like to enlarge this team with three more associate editors, preferably one from Life Sciences and two from SSH (history, political science, law, etc.). Interested colleagues - also from the Young Academy of Europe - are invited to contact Theo at

So please respond to this appeal and offer your help direct to Theo.

You may be wondering about the 2020 Annual Business meeting for members (The AGM). Normally this takes place as a part of the annual conference. This year and exceptionally, we will be asking all members to approve a motion to NOT hold an AGM. Our Executive Secretary will write to all members with the information. Other essential decisions will be notified to you all electronically and where necessary an electronic vote will be held.

Over the past months, the Presidential search group have been carrying out their mandate. A recent Board of trustees meeting held extensive discussions on their recommendations. A decision was made and the candidates were contacted. The current and exceptional situation we are in, has meant that l for the first time we will manage the Presidential handover period differently. We will carry out a Presidential ballot of all members electronically, in the autumn. In order to ensure a stable handover and continuity in these unsure times, the Board approved a resolution for the temporary extension of the current Presidential term to the (delayed) annual conference in 2021. The new incoming President will from January 1st, have a “president elect” role until the handover. This is also a new situation. But we hope that members will find these solutions to the present situation acceptable and pragmatic.

Our Executive Secretary will again write to all members, to explain in detail these measures and he will set out the procedures for holding the e-votes, as necessary.

Finally, I have been sad to hear of the death of our former Council member, Board member and for a long time the AE Honorary Treasurer – Peter Day (Chemistry). Peter served under two Presidents (Stromholm and Mittelstrass) and I found him always to be a wise and friendly colleague and a most efficient and ‘calm under crisis’ Treasurer. An obituary will be published in due course.

So, as some parts of Europe gradually relax their restrictions and hopefully as we all return to a more normal life, please continue to stay safe.

Sierd Cloetingh
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