WomenNetPhysics: the first Dutch conference about women working in physics

  • #physics

Although universities are trying their best to attract more female physics students, still only about one in four students is female. This means that women who choose physics often end up in the minority throughout their careers.

On March 22, Utrecht University will host the very first conference in the Netherlands about women working in physics. WomenNetPhysics is a networking event for anyone interested in the role of women in physics, no matter where you are in your career – whether you're a student, academic, or industry professional.

Read more and register for WomenNetPhysics


Data School is making an impact on an international scale

  • #computerscience
  • #ethicsinnaturalsciences
  • #informationscience

How do you achieve impact through your research findings? For instance, by publishing a paper in a leading academic journal, or speaking about it at a public event or in the media. But the Data School's Mirko Schäfer and Iris Muis do not find the time to publish as often as they would like. And yet, their research is having significant impact, with their work used in e.g. Austria, Sweden, Finland and Greece.

Iris Muis and Mirko Schäfer, along with associate professor Karin van Es, are the figureheads of the Data School, an education and research platform exploring the impact of digitisation on society. Schäfer is an associate professor at the Science Faculty as well as co-founder of the Data School. Team manager Muis was nominated Responsible AI Leader by Women in AI Netherlands. Schäfer just returned from Finland, where the Data School team worked to raise awareness among scientists and government officials on the ethical aspects of big data projects. They did so with the Data Ethics Decision Aid (DEDA), a toolkit used to help officials by guiding them through each step of the decision-making process.

Find out more!


Utrecht University developed performance review: “Structural evaluation of AI is needed”

  • #computerscience
  • #informationscience

A project team led by Utrecht University examined how companies can monitor their AI applications. “Artificial intelligence is getting an increasingly important role in organisations, yet there is no structural monitoring of how AI performs its tasks,” project leader Iris Muis reveals. As a result, risks of profiling and discrimination, for example, are growing. “Our solution is a periodic ‘performance review’, just as is the case with human employees.”

Evaluating functioning of AI

“A ‘job interview’ for AI is already common”, Muis says. “There are many tests available to determine whether a particular AI would fit within a company.” But once an AI system is implemented, it is not monitored or evaluated, her research team found. It turned out to be a gap that exists in academic literature as well as in practice. “While the performance of AI systems should be evaluated periodically to check whether they are doing and continue to do what is intended.”

Muis and her team subsequently developed a performance review for AI. “With this set-up, we provide tools for market players and supervisors to evaluate the functioning of AI,” Muis explains.

Read more about the questionnaire for artificial intelligence


We are witnessing the development of a new scientific discipline: Process Science

  • #computerscience
  • #informationscience

On Friday, 19 January, Hajo Reijers held his inaugural lecture in the Academiegebouw of Utrecht University. Since 2019, Reijers has been Professor of Business Process Management & Analytics in the Department of Information and Computing Sciences. In his inaugural lecture, Reijers argues, among other things, that a new scientific discipline is emerging called Process Science. The discipline originates from the analysis of business processes but extends its focus to a much broader range of processes.

Computer scientists have been studying business processes for about thirty years. This has yielded many accomplishments, from workflow management systems to methods for the innovation of business processes. A major recent development in the study of business processes within computer science is process mining. With process mining, it is possible to gain insight into how business processes unfold, based on log files, databases, and other information systems.

Greater impact on science and society

In his inaugural lecture, Reijers argues that a new scientific discipline is emerging: Process Science. Within this discipline, researchers use and extend the methods, tools, and techniques developed for the study of business processes. However, they apply these to analyze a much broader range of processes that also have a greater impact on science and society. "I believe it is time to broaden our view," says Reijers.

Process Science was first defined in a scientific paper in 2021 as the interdisciplinary study of continuous change. A few months ago, a new journal on Process Science was established.

Read more


Millions for research on impact of sustainability and climate change education

  • #educationalsciences
  • #environmentalscience
  • #mathematics

A large consortium led by Utrecht University has been awarded a 5 million euro Horizon Europe grant. The partners will develop an assessment framework to map the impact of sustainability and climate change education. The number of initiatives in this field has grown enormously, but due to a lack of insight into their quality, there is a great need for impact assessment. The IMP>ACT project has started in January and will run for four years.

Opportunities for education about sustainability and climate are plentiful since the UN's Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Educational institutions and other organisations have increasingly more options to choose from when it comes to educational methods that seek to raise awareness of climate change and promote sustainable actions. Teachers want only the best for their students, but how do they make the right choice? How do they know if a certain method will indeed build their students’ competence to act, and think differently about climate change

Continue reading about the large European consortium led by Utrecht University.

Photo: Lize Kraan | Summerschool Junior Utrecht University


Publication: Costs of scaring grass-eating barnacle geese often outweigh the benefits

  • #biologicalsciences
  • #computerscience
  • #environmentalscience
  • #informationscience

Current management not the most effective

At the current population sizes, the practice of scaring geese off pastures in the province of Friesland probably ends up costing more than it saves. Utrecht University ecologist Monique de Jager and colleagues from Wageningen University and Research, the University of Amsterdam, and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) conclude this based on a model study, that was conducted as part of the Dutch contribution to European goose management. The results suggest that scaring geese is cost-effective only when there are few geese in the area.

For further reading and publication link, go to this webpage.

Photo: Gerard Muskens


Pathways to Sustainability Incubator grants – 2024 application (deadline 15 Feb)

Join us for our next Pathways to Sustainability Kickstarter event. Involvement, connection and community building are key elements of this event. Details of the event: Thursday 18 April 2024 from 14:00 to 17:30, location to be determined.

We invite teams to send in their idea by 15 February 2024. Successfully pre-selected Incubator ideas will take centre stage during this event. The selected Incubator teams will be assisted in targeting participants (UU colleagues and external stakeholders) for the Kickstarter workshop sessions. This event will offer an opportunity for co-creation and to build your project team, as we believe that such an open process is key to transformative learning. More information about the format and programme will follow soon.


Event 9 January on Network Science + Economic Crime

  • #computerscience
  • #criminology
  • #economics
  • #informationscience
  • #technology

We are delighted to invite you to the upcoming event on Network Science + Economic Crime. This will be a combined event of the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Network Science and the AI Lab on Sustainable Finance. It will be hosted by the Center for Complex Systems Studies.

The goal of the event is to learn about how network science can be used to detect economic crime, bring together researchers interested in the topic, and engage in discussions and networking. The event will consist of four short talks and space for semi-structured brainstorming.

Start date and time 9 January 2024 - 14:30
End date and time 9 January 2024 - 17:00
Location Centre for Complex Systems Studies, Minneart 4.16 (Utrecht University)
Entrance fee Free


Utrecht chemists discover mechanism to design more sustainable molecular catalysts

  • #chemistry
  • #pharmacologicalsciences

Utrecht scientists, under the supervision of Marc-Etienne Moret, have discovered a new mechanism to build molecular catalysts. The new mechanism involves the earth-abundant metal nickel instead of precious metals that are often used as part of molecular catalysts.

Moret: “This discovery initiates a new area of research that brings about a whole new concept for the design of more sustainable catalysts.

In 2017, chemistry researcher Marc-Etienne Moret received an ERC Starting Grant to study new catalysts with better properties. Now, with the discovery that was published in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry, his team has made a big step towards the goal he set out to achieve back then: the development of a new family of catalysts based on non-noble metals. “We discovered a new reaction mechanism”, Moret says enthusiastically. “This does not happen very often, especially in a field that’s been researched so thoroughly.

Continue reading here.


National Conference on Governing AI

  • #computerscience
  • #informationscience
  • #medicalsciences
  • #politicalsciences
  • #technology

On Friday 2 February, the focus areas Governing the Digital Society, Applied Data Science and Human-centered Artificial Intelligence are organizing an interdisciplinary conference focused on the theme of “Governing AI” at the Railway Museum in Utrecht.

The conference program features renowned keynote speakers, as well as six contributions from Utrecht University researchers who will present their work through shorter pitches. The event aims to foster engaging and informed discussions on the pressing topics within the realm of AI governance.

Click here for a detailed overview of the program, short abstracts and bios of all the speakers. We anticipate a large and engaged audience consisting of researchers, professionals, and enthusiastic students.

Sign up for the Governing AI National Conference to secure a spot. Only limited places available. We hope to see you on Friday 2 February!