President's page#

Sierd Cloetingh

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

August 2021#

Since my last letter, the AE has continued to work towards the targets that we set out in our five-year strategic plan. I am pleased today to be able to welcome the new members who have been elected to membership this year and across all Sections. So far, 289 of the 361 who have been invited, have accepted membership and you can view the growing list, via the link on our website home page. Over the coming weeks, our team at the Wroclaw Knowledge Hub will be posting out the new member welcome packs, member certificates and member lapel pins to you, the 2021 cohort. I hope that over the coming years, you will become actively engaged with your Sections and enhance our range of activity. You can view the statistics associated with the 2021 cohort and generally on our ae-info website.

Whilst I am on the subject of activity, I am very pleased to announce that we are going ahead with the 2021 Annual Member Conference. The programme is in place and the conference website has been launched (with registration). Not surprisingly, we are being cautious. So, during October we will hold virtual Class sessions, as follows:

  • on October 14th - Class A1 and Class A2 – Humanities and Social and Societal Sciences
  • on October 15th - Class B - Exact and Natural Sciences
  • on October 18th Class C – Life Sciences

Each class session will comprise two parts: a notable plenary speaker, followed by a “welcome to new (2020) members” session, where those members elected in 2020 may give a short presentation of themselves and their research to their Class colleagues. All AE members are welcome to participate in these Class sessions. Then, on 20th and 21st October, we will hold the 2021 plenary conference, for all members. The plenary has once again been organised by our Barcelona Knowledge Hub team. This year the “Building Bridges” programme will be a mixed format event. For those who can and who want to travel to Barcelona, we hope to be able to provide up to 75 physical delegate places. AE members can also register to attend all parts (Class and plenary) virtually.

At the plenary, we will present the delayed 2020 Erasmus Medal award of the AE to Professor Roger Penrose the mathematician and physicist, who will also deliver the Erasmus lecture. We will present a Gold Medal to Professor Ole Petersen – a founder member, who continues to give the AE valuable service through his Directorship of the Cardiff Hub and as the lead for our engagement in the SAPEA science for policy project of Horizon 2020.

You can visit the conference website now and register early, especially for the limited physical places in Barcelona:

I hope to see a large number of you participating in all modes. We expect to return to a standard model for conferences in 2022, where the new members elected this year (2021) will have a physical opportunity to present themselves. I would like to express my thanks to our Barcelona Hub team (Professor Ricard Guerrero – Academic Director and Kimberley Katte, Hub Manager and Ruben Duro (Communications) for their work under the pressures of the COVID situation.

Our efforts to broaden the base of our engagement in SAPEA will come to fruition in the successor project SAPEA +, with the additional participation as a partner of the Bergen Knowledge Hub, alongside Cardiff. Professor Eystein Jansen the Academic Director, will oversee the Bergen participation. I am also pleased to report that the Young Academy of Europe (YAE) with whom we have a very close association, will also be a beneficiary in SAPEA + acting on behalf of the ‘YASAS’ consortium of young academies (Young Academies Science Advice Structure). The current SAPEA project has been extended slightly into 2022 to avoid any interregnum period between the Horizon funding programmes. The Cardiff team, led by Professor Petersen and very ably assisted by Louise Edwards, has continued to manage evidence reviews and policy advice topics throughout the COVID period. On behalf of the AE, the Cardiff Hub team have overseen and recently delivered to the Commission, a major evidence review report on Biodegradation of Plastics. The evidence-gathering phase was done entirely remotely for the first time and with great success. You can view all SAPEA project activity at the SAPEA website and also through the Cardiff Knowledge Hub.

I am also pleased to report that a number of our hub based events that have been postponed from 2019/2020 will take place later this year – to mention just one, at the Wroclaw Knowledge Hub, a Class A1 (History Section) organised event on Iconoclasm.

Also and in line with our Strategic Plan, I would like to mention the two new Regional Knowledge Hubs. The first is Budapest. This is under the academic direction of Professor Laszlo Lovasz (Mathematics), a former President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the first recipient of the AE-Barcelona Hypatia Prize. Secondly, our new Munich Knowledge Hub, that is based at LMU University and is under the academic direction of Professor Don Dingwell (Earth Sciences) our current Class B chair. I am hoping to see a strong programme of activity from both of these hubs emerge in 2022, as we come out from the restrictions of COVID. For our new members, the seven Regional Knowledge Hubs all operate under bilateral agreements between the AE and their local sponsoring organisations. Each hub has a thematic mission and each can provide members with support for organising AE events. So, please put any ideas your may have to your Section chairs, and/or also contact an appropriate hub if you need their assistance.

Finally, a reminder to all members about paying your subscriptions. Apart from specific project funding, we receive no other core financial support. Whilst this ensures our independence, it does mean that your subscriptions are critical to our continued operational development. So, if you have not yet paid for 2021, please do so as soon as possible. The ‘how to pay’ information is on the ae-info website. You should also check your contact data as London and the Hubs, only communicate through email and e-newsletter, so if your details are out of date, you may miss out.

Sierd Cloetingh
3 August 2021
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