Moving from one leadership role to another, Professor Isabel Arends is not one to shy away from management.
Having just finished her role as Chair of the Delft University of Technology professional women’s organization, DEWIS, she moved into 2014 as the newest member of the Netherlands’ STEM research funding organization, the STW.
TU Delft stands to gain positive standing now that Arends brings her voice to the board.
The STW, or Stichting voor de Technische Wetenschappen, is the science and technology arm of the national research funding organization, NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek). With an annual budget of around 80 million euros, the STW is able to fund projects that bring science and technical research to users.
“The TU benefits a lot from what the STW does,” says Arends. A significant portion of STW funds goes to the three Dutch technical universities, including TU Delft. For example, a current STW project that is headed by Dr. Zili Li investigates how to detect railroad track failures before they turn into accidents. And doctoral candidate, Neslihan Ozmen-Eryilmaz, did her PhD work on breast imaging using radio waves with STW funding.
There are four members on the STW board, each of whom serves a term of three years. Usually two to three technical universities are represented. According to STW director, Eppo Bruins, there has been one female board member in the ranks for the past several years.
Professor Arends describes her appointment as a “delicate process.” Her nomination came at a time when an STW board member, who happened to be a woman, was stepping down. At the same time, the board was looking for someone who was competent in the life sciences and was a professor from one of the technical universities. It turned out that Arends fit the bill in all three areas.
Arends has been at TU Delft since 1996, first as a fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and then as a full professor of biocatalysis and organic chemistry. Aside from her STW position, she heads the Department of Biotechnology and is a part of the management team of the Faculty of Applied Sciences.
Currently, the STW has three open calls for projects with funding in the millions of euros. Two are specific: developing interactive maps to improve society and devising novel embedded systems. The third is a wild card, the so-called “Open Technology Program.”
“Anyone who wants to bring science and technology to the market is welcome,” says Arends of the application process.