News item | 21-09-2022 | 14:00

    Minister Dijkgraaf (OCW) has appointed Ionica Smeets and Alex Verkade as quartermasters of a new national center for science communication. This new center stimulates the conversation between scientists and society and will collect and share expertise, in order to make science communication more effective. Ionica Smeets and Alex Verkade have both been committed to a national science communication center for years.

    Ionica Smeets is professor of science communication at Leiden University and head of the Science Communication & Society department that provides the master’s specialization of the same name. She also engages in science communication with columns, books and discussions in (social) media. Alex Verkade is an MT member at the SIA Directorate, which stimulates the quality and impact of practice-oriented research. Throughout his career, he has been committed to connecting research and society and has worked for more than 20 years in science communication, both in practice and in policy.


    Minister Dijkgraaf announced the new center for science communication in May this year. The dialogue between society and science must be maintained, that is where science has a role. But Minister Dijkgraaf also wants us as a country to stand firmer for science and those who practice science. This requires a solid foundation for our science communication. Dialogue is essential for a good connection between science and society. Science communication can ensure an equal dialogue based on understanding and trust. Research and the pooling of knowledge about effective ways to have that conversation are very important in this respect. The minister also sees a role for the new center for science communication in this regard.

    Ionica Smeets and Alex Verkade have been appointed on 1 October to set up the newly established national center. The minister gave the two quartermasters the freedom to combine all their energy in the field of science communication. The goal: not more, but better science communication. The center will not determine what good science is and will not communicate about science itself, but it will stimulate conversation between scientists and people in society. Smeets and Verkade will present the minister with a blueprint for the new center next spring.

    Exchange expertise

    Ionica Smeets: “Science communication happens in so many places and in so many forms – and so many people have to reinvent the wheel every time. There is much to be gained by exchanging expertise.”

    Alex Verkade: “Science communication is an important part of a larger movement towards more open science, where scientists are also appreciated for their efforts to engage in dialogue with society. That’s how we work as quartermasters: in an open conversation with the field, in the broadest sense of the word.”

    Minister Dijkgraaf: “With their different backgrounds, broad experience and large network, Ionica and Alex are the ideal quartermasters. I appreciate that Leiden University and SIA have made them available to set up a knowledge center together with the field. Ionica and Alex represent a wealth of knowledge and connections and they are well positioned to bring together the broad field of science communication. That there is a need for this is apparent from the many positive reactions to the initiative for a national center. This broad involvement reflects the need for collaboration and knowledge sharing.”