Four women have been given a position in the first round of the NWO Women In Science Excel (WISE) programme, amongst them Stacey Jeffery from CWI. The others are Elisabeth Adams (ASTRON), Barbora Hola (NSCR) and Anja Spang (NIOZ). The tenure track programme provides these talented female scientists with the opportunity to continue or develop their own research group and ultimately advance to a top position at the institute in question.
CWI researcher Stacey Jeffery studied computer science at the University of Waterloo, Canada and was a postdoc researcher at Caltech, USA. She is interested in quantum cryptography and in quantum algorithms for the near future. Jeffery explains: “We do not only want to have algorithms for perfect quantum computers in, say, 30 years, but also want to use quantum computers in maybe 5-10 years”. She is also interested in new cryptographic problems arising from quantum computers: “When we have quantum computers, they might be expensive and therefore be owned by companies who do the computations for you. I’m interested in the case that you don’t want to reveal your data and also want the owner of the quantum computers to prove that they did the correct computation”. Jeffery has been working at the Algorithms and Complexity research group at CWI in Amsterdam since 1 January 2017. Her research will also be part of QuSoft, the Dutch research centre for quantum software. Jeffery: “I’m very glad to get this WISE position. It’s nice to have a long-term perspective for my research.”
The WISE tenure trackers were selected from a pool of 106 applicants. “It’s an impressive number and shows once again that there’s more than enough female talent out there,’” says professor Vinod Subramaniam, rector of VU Amsterdam and independent chair of the selection committee. The WISE programme aims to improve the gender balance among NWO’s own scientific staff. WISE was launched in June 2016 and will provide twenty positions in the coming five years at NWO research institutes, including ARCNL, the Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography. The evaluation committee, consisting of distinguished and international scientists is very enthusiastic about the NWO initiative. “With these four tenure trackers in this first round, we have achieved the programme’s aim of attracting talent to the Netherlands and keeping talented scientists here and providing them with opportunities. WISE is thus make a real difference in attracting and promoting the advancement of top female researchers,” says Subramaniam.
Highly talented researchers
Each of the WISE tenure trackers has an impressive international career. The NWO website mentions: “Dr. Jeffery is receiving a position at CWI for her clear research plan on the use of quantum computers in terms of computation and data security, among other reasons, as well as her extensive academic record”. The tenure trackers will start their work at the institute of their choice this year, which coincides nicely with the ‘Westerdijk Year’, named after the first female professor in the Netherlands, during which various organisations, including NWO, will focus on the position of women in science.
With a focus on guidance and the right facilities, the programme will provide talented international and national researchers with a great career path towards a tenured position. The tenure track positions target female researchers who have started their careers and obtained their PhD at least three years ago. They will have to submit a research proposal and indicate at which NWO institute they would like to work. Successful candidates will be offered a five-year tenure track position at the institute of their choice. Following a successful tenure track, researchers fellows will receive a tenured position at the institute of their choice.