What is the Young Wadden Academy?

The Young Wadden Academy (YWA) was established by the Wadden Academy on 31 June 2016. The main tasks as stated in the formal regulations of the YWA are to (1) stimulate, involve and support young researchers with interdisciplinary research, (2) stimulate vision development for the future of wadden-related research (within disciplines, inter-disciplinary and with regards to science policy), (3) stimulate dissemination of research findings to policy and management. The YWA achieves its tasks by combining research and the organisation of interdisciplinary conferences where knowledge utilization for sustainable development of the Wadden area is an important theme. Both members and non-members will be involved to achieve the tasks. The YWA coordinates its tasks and activities with the Wadden Academy, but is an independent entity within the Wadden Academy (WA), based at the Ruiterskwartier in Leeuwarden.

Our mission and vision is the...

  • Encouragement of critical multidisciplinary thinking and research amongst young researchers with regards to the Wadden Sea area
  • Contribution to the Wadden society through pursuit, application and dissemination of knowledge (with a focus on transdisciplinary research and sustainable development)
  • And to enhance the quality and generality of transdisciplinary research in the Wadden Area by international collaboration.

Who we are!



Dr Bas Borsje, University of Twente

Bas Borsje lid De Jonge WaddenacademieI am Bas Borsje. I have an MSc in Civil Engineering (cum laude) and a PhD for my research at the interface of ecology and sediment transport (cum laude). I have also received a VENI grant for designing nature-friendly floodplains as an innovative coastal defence measure. At the moment, I combine three jobs: I am an assistant professor at the University of Twente, researcher at Deltares, and an expert at Boskalis.  Right now, I am involved in innovative dike reinforcement projects along the Frisian coast (POV Waddenzeedijken) and in planned mega sand suppletion measures in the outer delta of the Wadden Islands (Kustgenese2). As an expert in hydraulics and climate change, I am working closely on these projects with ecologists, policymakers, physical geographers and dozens of users, site managers and interest groups.








Dr Melanie Bakema, Safety Region Groningen

Foto Melanie BakemaI grew up on the Dutch Wadden Island Ameland. Currently I work at Safety Region Groningen (Veiligheidsregio Groningen) as a policy advisor on crisis management. I have a BSc in human geography and planning and a MSc in regional studies (summa cum laude). During my studies, my interest in the interactions between nature and societies grew which made me decide to start my PhD on disaster governance. In my PhD research, I studied the social-ecological interactions that led to disasters and transitions that can be triggered by disasters. I conducted three case studies on disasters in New Zealand, Chile and the Netherlands to obtain insights in disaster governance. After completing my PhD in March 2019, I am able to continue with my interest in preventing, mitigating, dealing with and recovering after disasters in my current job at Safety Region Groningen. As the Wadden Sea area is part of our region, I am interested to explore how potential disasters can be prevented and, simultaneously, socioeconomic development can be stimulated.



Dr Eelke Folmer, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Chair of the YWA)

Eelke Folmer lid De Jonge WaddenacademieAfter studying biology and majoring in ecology, I did my PhD research at the University of Groningen in the Animal Ecology group. My research concerned the behavioural ecology of shorebirds in the Wadden Sea, the Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania, and in Roebuck Bay, Australia. After I received my PhD, I worked as a post-doctoral researcher for the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and as an independent researcher with Ecospace. I conduct both basic and applied research on current ecological problems in the Wadden Sea. I combine fieldwork with mathematical, statistical and GIS methods and collaborate with scientists in other disciplines.








Dr Stefan Hartman, Stenden University of Applied Sciences

Stefan Hartman lid De Jonge WaddenacademieI completed my PhD in spatial planning and environment. In my research, I study the tension between preserving and developing the environment and the quest for balance and synergy. In terms of theory, I am interested in how we can build the adaptive capacity and resilience of socio-ecological systems. As a senior researcher and now the new Program Manager of the European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI), I am involved in various projects in the Wadden Sea Region and in studies of relevance to that region, either as a project coordinator or as a researcher. I am also linked to the Wadden Sea Region as a senior lecturer at the School of Leisure & Tourism, Stenden University of Applied Sciences, for example in student projects, graduation research and in research assignments for the Master’s in International Leisure & Tourism Studies.







Dr Nora Mehnen, University of Oldenburg

Nora Mehnen lid de Jonge WaddenacademieI received my PhD in cultural geography from the University of Groningen in 2013. From 2013 to 2015, I was a post-doctoral researcher at the same university at the Department of Economic Geography, where I participated in the WaLTER project (http://www.walterwaddenmonitor.org/), focusing on the socio-economic aspects of the trilateral Wadden Sea Region. I am currently working at the University of Oldenburg, where we just launched a three-year project on population decline in four tourist communities in the German part of the Wadden Sea Region. I am also interested in protected areas, rural development and regional economy. Thanks to my German background, I hope to strengthen the trilateral ambitions of the Young Wadden Academy.







Dr Mans Schepers, University of Groningen

Mans Schepers lid De Jongen Waddenacademie

I received my PhD in 2014, graduating cum laude with my research on vegetation reconstruction along the coast of the northern Netherlands, in particular in the salt marshes surrounding the terps in Groningen and Friesland. Terps are man-made mounds to provide a safe haven in times of flooding in a predominantly undiked landscape. In my current research project, made possible by a VENI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NOW), I am studying how terp inhabitants managed to grow crops in the exposed salt marshes. My project involves experimental crop cultivation in the northern Frisian mud flats, in cooperation with It Fryske Gea and ecologists from the University of Groningen. In my research, I explore the interface between people and the natural environment. That relationship is an extremely close one in the Netherlands, especially in the Wadden Sea Region. To understand the Wadden Sea Region, then, we must study both human beings and nature. We can only do that by working together.