Utrecht Young Academy introduces members in podcast

“We’re using the podcast to introduce members of the Utrecht Young Academy to the university’s community,” says Sanli Faez, professor of nanophotonics at the department of Physics and Astrology and member of the Utrecht Young Academy.

The Utrecht Young Academy was launched last year. It provides a platform for young talents in science to collaborate. The Utrecht Young Academy aims to be a local counterpart to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Young Academy (De Jonge Akademie). Bringing together 24 talented young scientists is supposed to lead to an increase in interdisciplinary projects, and to reflect about the UU’s science policies.

In the podcast, Faez asks his guests about what they do, what they’re proud of, and why they’re working at the UU. “Every year, eight new members are welcomed to the UYA,” he explains. “The advantage of this is that we don’t have to hold elaborate introductions. And we’re saving every episode.” Making the podcast has other benefits for Faez. “I’m understanding more and more about the university’s other faculties.”

“I’m looking for interesting stories,” he says. “Everyone who works here, has one. It’s just a matter of asking the right questions to get people to tell me theirs.” To find the stories, he has developed his own tactics. “I’ll look at the resume and choose two publications.” In the first episode, he interviews Elaine Mak, professor of Jurisprudence, and among other things, they talk about articles she’s written with her sisters – who are also professors in the same discipline.

In the first series, Faez visits scientists other than those at the Sciences faculty. “I’m not too familiar with them, and therefore curious about them. I want to know what issues they face, and how they solve them.” According to Faez, it’s a good thing that the scientists get to talk themselves in the podcasts. “Often, scientists communicate through third parties, and a lot gets lost in translation,” he says. “You end up with people saying ‘I didn’t mean it the way it was printed’.”

He does the interviews in English. “Everyone at the Utrecht Young Academy speaks Dutch,” Faez says, “but considering future members, it’s easier to do the interviews in English. The university’s community is becoming more international, and doing the podcast in English hopefully ensures everybody feels equally welcome.”

Aside from the introductions, the podcast also fulfills another one of the UYA’s goals: making sure that science stays in touch with the community. Through these stories, they want to create an image of how the world of science actually works. “Science and society often seem like two separate islands. But scientists are people, too. We use science to solve society’s issues.”

You can listen to the Utrecht Young Academy podcast at Soundcloud. There are plans to publish the podcasts at other platforms in the future.