Young Academy welcomes Liesbeth Janssen

December 10, 2019

The Young Academy is meant for young researchers who received their doctorate less than ten years ago.

TU/e researcher Liesbeth Janssen is among the ten new members of the Young Academy, who were announced by the KNAW today. Janssen is assistant professor at the department of Applied Physics. Also Tom de Greef, associate professor at the department of Biomedical Engineering and working at the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems is one of the newcomers.

The Young Academy exists since 2005 as an independent platform within the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and has fifty members, ten of whom join and leave the academy annually. 

Physicist Liesbeth Janssen wants to collaborate on “important issues that have an impact on all of us” with scientists from different fields within the Young Academy. Diversity and inclusiveness policy features particularly high on the 35-year-old assistant professor’s list of priorities.

She speaks of “an important issue that is now also high on the agenda of TU/e and about which much substantial scientific knowledge is available within the Young Academy as well. I would like to contribute to some sort of ‘practical handbook’ for diversity policy that will help put into action and apply that scientific knowledge within TU/e.”

Janssen finds it “difficult to say” why TU/e nominated her for the national platform. “Perhaps because of my passion for research and my outreach activities, and because of broader issues such as diversity policy.” She describes her appointment as “a great honor” and a recognition of her scientific work, which focuses on glass.

“We all use glass on a daily basis, we’ve known how to make it for thousands of years, but on balance, we know very little about it. Because when you look at glass at an atomic level, it looks like a liquid, but it behaves like a solid. And that’s really strange: the macroscopic behavior doesn’t seem to match with the material’s atomic structure at all.”

Janssen and her colleagues try to better understand and eventually solve that problem with and entirely new theory. “In doing so, we don’t just look at familiar examples of glass, but we also use that theory to develop sustainable plastics, for example, and even to explain glassy behavior of living cells in the body. The latter offers interesting opportunities to say something, purely from the perspective of physics, about processes such as wound healing and cancer metastasis.”


The Young Academy, which is meant for young researchers who received their doctorate less than ten years before their appointment to the academy, aims to stimulate interdisciplinary research and to communicate science to the general public. It also consults with and advices scientific organizations and ministries.

TU/e researchers who preceded Janssen and De Greef at the Young Academy include Carlijn Bouten (BMT), Maaike Kroon (Chemical Engineering and Chemistry) and Bettina Speckmann (Mathematics and Computer Science), all of whom are academy alumni.

Source: Cursor