Amsterdam Young Academy is an initiative of VU Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam and was founded in 2018. Eski has been involved in the organisation from the beginning. "We are an academic community, with both a public function and a communal function. An important topic for us to pay more attention to, is academic care. We think about how we, as fellow scientists, can take the best possible care of each other. We also go in-depth and talk about the content of scientific research, working together in an interdisciplinary manner."
Amsterdam Young Academy is an independent platform where young scientists from different disciplines meet to develop views on science, science policy and devise ways to bridge the gap between science and society.
The workload experienced by young scientists is at the top of Eski and AYA's agenda. For that reason, he feels it is important to be open about his own experiences. "I was close to a burn-out a few years ago and sought help to deal with that," says Eski. "You can help others with your own experiences. That's why I think it's important for academics to be open about how they're doing, even when things are not going so well."
AYA also meets regularly with Executive Boards of the VU and UvA. Eski is looking forward to discussing these issues with the new Rector Magnificus of the VU, Jeroen Geurts. "In the academic world there is a lot of talk about recognition and rewards, but what does that mean in practice? That's what I'd like to discuss and to do something about." In addition, AYA also looks outwards, towards society. "To put it bluntly: how do we ensure that all the knowledge we have here also reaches the taxpayer?"
The COVID-19 crisis has had a major impact on the lives and work of young scientists. "There is less attention for the human aspect of our work and at AYA we noticed that you need social and physical interaction as a community. We are working on 'principles of care', to answer the question: what is academic care?" says Eski. "First, I think, you need to take care of yourself, find a good work-life balance, feel good about yourself. Then you reach out to your colleagues and see how they’re doing. The COVID-19 crisis has made this a lot more difficult. You don't have to be a robot as a scientist; it's okay to pay attention to all too human matters. That's what we want to emphasise at AYA."