‘It’s impressive how scientists from different disciplines work together on major issues in Rotterdam.’ With that sentence, the brand-new Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf, summarised his visit to Erasmus MC. This visit was part of the Minister’s first extended working visit since his inauguration: a tour of Rotterdam’s MBO, HBO and WO institutions.
Convergence was the main topic of the visit. Researchers from convergence projects, such as the Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC), Healthy Start and Resilient Delta, showed the value of multidisciplinary research.
At PDPC, researchers work together to better prepare our society for future threats, such as extreme weather and increasing infectious diseases. ‘Modelers who predict corona infections face the same issues as modelers who monitor flood risks,’ explained Department Head of Viroscience Marion Koopmans. ‘By combining different disciplines, we can develop innovative solutions at the PDPC.’
How can the health of all children in Rotterdam be improved? That is the central question that researchers are trying to answer with Healthy Start. ‘Thanks to engineers, we can examine the health of small embryos. But we should also remember to put those results in a social context. By combining knowledge, we learn how to reduce health differences,’ says Professor of Pediatrics Vincent Jaddoe.
Arjan van Timmeren, professor of environmental technology and design at TU Delft and Renske Keizer, professor of family sociology at EUR presented the Resilient Delta initiative. Resilient Delta focuses on the future challenges of delta cities, such as rising sea levels, inequality and the energy transition. These challenges and their solutions consist of a physical and a social aspect. The involvement of different experts is therefore crucial.
Students, lecturers and PhD students presented plans concerning student welfare and work pressure among employees. Laurine Rijsbergen, a PhD student at virology and chair of the PhD association Promeras, talked about the stress PhD students feel due to time pressure and conflicts with supervisors. Laurine calls on fellow PhD students to talk to each other about this. ‘Talking helps. Moreover, you will see that you are not the only one who suffers from stress’, Laurine explained.
Green Intensive Care
Healthcare is responsible for 7% of national greenhouse gas emissions. Healthcare also produces a large amount of waste. Nicole Hunveld, the ICU pharmacist at Erasmus MC, presented her Green Team and how she is trying to turn the tide. A lot can be done by, for example, packaging latex gloves better and producing syringes more sustainably. But it all starts with awareness, according to the Green Team. By showing how hospitals function right now – in terms of waste -, colleagues will be more prepared to act sustainably.