NERDS is Research Environment of the Year 2022

The Danish Young Academy of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters has chosen out of 62 nominated research environments our research group NEtwoRks, Data, and Society (NERDS) as

Research Environment of the Year 2022

The Academy ceremoniously awarded the title and a prize on June 1st to our group’s nominators, Anastassia and Tiago, who motivated their nomination as follows:

In our group, we openly talk about the struggles of academia, such as stress, high pressure, competitiveness, gender, and racial biases – and about the struggles of our personal lives, such as balancing care duties and research work. As young academics, NERDS is the best company that we could wish for: individuals with curious minds, supporting each other in their personal quests for knowledge and for the betterment of society, which is what ultimately drives us all.

See the Danish Young Academy’s explanation here:
Among other points, they write:

In just 3 years, NERDS has managed to create an exemplary academic environment and unity. The group shows that seniority and large center grants are not necessarily the only prerequisites for a good research environment.  

Given this title, we have been asked about our “secret”. Having experienced our fair share of abusive environments, these seem some reasonable guidelines:

  1. Be nice to each other. Corollary: Surround yourself with the right people, and be very sure to not let toxic people into your environment.
  2. Psychological safety is most important. Mistakes are expected, especially in science. It is normal to get stuck in the cloud and we must support each other through it. Disagreements are expected too, and a diversity of perspectives helps resolve them amicably.
  3. Avoid having one boss. Research groups where one person is in power invites abuse. Keep inequalities to a minimum, make important decisions together.
  4. Make sure people have all the freedom to mingle and build up a support network. This will make them strong and protect them from academia’s harassment networks.

Thank you Anastassia and Tiago for the nomination, thank you all NERDS for being so excellent to each other, thank you to our department head Peter Sestoft for the amazing support and efforts to create a great as possible environment on the department level, and cheers to the Danish Young Academy! 🍸

We will do our best to continue living up to this honorable title.