Professor Pieter Ballon, professor in the Department of Communication Sciences, will become vice-rector for Research. As director of SMIT (Studies in Media, Innovation & Technology), a joint research centre of VUB and imec, he leads one of Europe’s largest social science research groups on digital media and smart technology. He is also co-founder of the European Network of Living Labs and the Hannah Arendt Institute. He succeeds Karin Vanderkerken as vice-rector for Research. “Whether it’s artificial intelligence, sustainability, cancer or fertility research, VUB has always pioneered ground-breaking and relevant research,” he says. “We are going to strengthen that even more.”
Professor Karin Vanderkerken, full professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, will remain vice-rector in the new team, but will swap Research for Internationalisation. She is active as a scientist at the VUB Brussels Health Campus in Jette. Among other things, she is the chair of the Oncology Cluster. Over the past six years, as vice-rector for Research, she has focused on the core facilities and renewal of the research infrastructure. She was one of the driving forces behind the research collaboration within the EUTOPIA partnership of 10 European universities, of which VUB is part. This experience will enable her to play an important role in EUTOPIA’s further development. Her long administrative experience as vice-rector is a great asset now that she will be in charge of Internationalisation. Karin Vanderkerken succeeds Romain Meeusen in this role.
Professor Nadine Engels, educationalist and professor at the Multidisciplinary Institute for Teacher Education (MILO), is the successor to Jan Danckaert as vice-rector for Education and Student Affairs. Because of her research expertise and her years of experience as a coordinator of teacher training, she has a great affinity with and expertise on the subject of education. She has worked for a long time with departments of the vice-rectorate of Education and Student Affairs, including in the educational professionalisation programme for new teachers and numerous educational innovation initiatives. She also boasts administrative experience, including as department chair, vice-dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences and chair of MILO. “Committed, inquisitive, connected to the city and the world, embracing diversity: the key concepts for formulating a strengthened educational vision have been given to us by the previous team,” she says. “To make these concepts a reality in terms of quality with our colleagues in the programmes is a great challenge.”
Professor Hugo Thienpont, full professor in the Faculty of Engineering, remains vice-rector for Innovation and Valorisation. He will continue to use his competence in applied research, industrial innovation and social service on a Flemish, European and international level. This will give research groups from the various departments of VUB every opportunity to create a lasting, significant economic and social impact through their innovative research and entrepreneurial spirit, enabling them to offer sustainable added value to our society. In addition, he will continue to steer the VUB Foundation to raise new funds that are badly needed to support our researchers and students.