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The European Science Foundation (ESF) has named Dr. Marc Heppener from the European Space Agency (ESA) as the new Director of Science and Strategy Development, making him the second-in-command of the more than 3-decade-old organisation.
Dr. Heppener began his duty this month, succeeding Dr. John Marks for the post. Prior to that, Dr. Heppener was the Head of the Science and Applications Division of the European Space Agency (ESA).
“Given my own background in a large international research infrastructure such as the ESA I have been very much exposed to the complex interplay between science and politics. I hope I can use that experience in furthering the objectives of ESF and its Member Organisations,” commented Dr. Heppener.
Dr. Heppener is joining the ESF at a time when the European science community is at a crossroad and, recognising that when it comes to scientific activities, Europe has to overcome the challenge of fragmentation for effective pan-European collaboration in the continent.
“With the ERA (European Research Area) becoming more and more a reality, I think the real challenge is to keep all the different players and instruments well aligned. If we want to succeed in making Europe the most advanced knowledge-based society in the world we should start with promoting scientific research as a concerted European objective.”
He pointed out that ESF is ideally placed to help streamlining a landscape where researchers are generally dismayed by the multitude of different funding possibilities, each with its own regulations, selection criteria, budgets constraints and low-success rates.
As for his approach with the 80 Member Organisations from the 30 European countries he will take on an attentive “listening” mode in dealing with each individual objective, both nationally and at the European level.
“I think we should exploit jointly the financial and political clout existing in our MO’s in making the ERA a real success. I would like to involve the big national and international research infrastructures, who play a crucial role as well in the overall European research efforts and contribute strongly to the overall European research potential. And obviously the EC and ERC will be key players in this discussion as well.”
Dr. Heppener is also the President of the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Ruimtevaart (Netherlands Society for Aerospace), the Vice-President of the International Astronautical Federation and the Chairman of its Space and Society Committee.
The European Science Foundation (ESF) is an association of 80 member organisations devoted to scientific research in 30 European countries. Since its inception in 1974, it has coordinated a wide range of pan-European scientific initiatives in order to promote research collaboration and cooperation in funding of research.