The Jonge Academie (Young Academy) has inducted 13 new members. Two researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel are among those selected. Aurélie Bellemans (civil engineering) and Anneleen Malfliet (physiotherapy) aim to contribute to a nuanced debate on science, art, policy and society with their scientific knowledge and through publications, events and other activities. ​

Aurélie Bellemans

Aurélie Bellemans (32) is a civil engineer researching how artificial intelligence and machine learning can accelerate calculations for applications in fluid dynamics. For example, they can simplify mathematical models when developing materials for the heat shields of spacecraft returning to the Earth’s atmosphere. “The Young Academy’s initiatives resonate with me. Supporting the position of minority groups in science, promoting equal opportunities and countering unconscious bias are very important to me,” she said in her candidature. “I therefore feel honoured to work actively with Young Academy members to promote communication between the scientific community and society.”

Anneleen Malfliet

Anneleen Malfliet (32) is a physiotherapist researching underlying mechanisms and new treatment strategies within physiotherapy and rehabilitation for people with long-term pain conditions. She focuses on the influence of lifestyle factors such as nutrition and weight. Her focus is on applied research with a direct translation into clinical practice and society. “The Young Academy has captured my imagination for some time. I am therefore extremely pleased to have the opportunity to contribute over the next five years. My main motivation for becoming a member is the opportunity it offers to create a platform to make scientific information and knowledge more accessible to a wider audience than is currently the case,” she says. “My hope is that through these efforts, such important messages will reach the most vulnerable groups in society.”

Words into action

As an urban engaged university, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel takes its responsibility seriously by focusing on education, research and social commitment. Scientists and research should serve society by finding sustainable solutions to contemporary social problems. “We live in a world of confusion and disinformation,” says vice-rector for Research Pieter Ballon. “Science is being questioned and conspiracy thinking is on the rise. We must take responsibility and commit to spreading the scientific method to the widest possible layer of the population. Science is not just another opinion. We therefore welcome the fact that these promising young researchers are putting their money where their mouth is, and actively contributing to public perceptions of science.”

About the Young Academy

The Young Academy is an interdisciplinary and inter-university meeting place for young researchers and artists with their own perspective on science, society, art and policy. Through publicising its opinions and hosting events on topical issues, it aims to improve public perceptions of science and the debate on science policy, specifically from the perspective of the young academic and artist.

The scientific members are affiliated to a Flemish university or a Flemish or federal scientific research institute and obtained their PhD between three and 10 years before joining. The member artists are aged between 25 and 39 and have a clear affinity with the Young Academy’s themes. Candidates are elected after an open call and on the basis of a convincing portfolio and a strong motivation, and membership lasts for five years. The Young Academy strives for broad representation from the various research disciplines.