About me

My name is Stefan de Jong (1983). I research the relationship between science and society and I host workshops on societal impact of academic research. On this page, I introduce myself.

Summary of positions and activities

Currently, I am an assistant professor at the Department of Public Administration and Sociology of Erasmus University Rotterdam. I am involved in the university’s ‘Evaluating Societal Impact’ project. More information on my research can be found on the project page. Additionally, I am a research fellow at the Center for Research on Evaluation of Science and Technology of Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

From September 2020 to October 2022 I was an assistant professor at the Department of Organization Studies of Tilburg University in the Netherlands and  a Marie Curie Fellow at the Department of Sociology of the University of Chicago in the USA. The title of my Marie Curie research project is ‘Invisible forces: the contribution of universities’ professional staff to knowledge production within the academic ecosystem.’

In May 2019 I concluded a two-year postdoctoral project at the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research at the University of Manchester (United Kingdom). My project ‘Professional Practices’ was funded by a Rubicon Grant of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). It focused on the relationship between impact strategies of universities and societal engagement of academics. At the moment, I am finalizing the papers that result from this project.

Next to my research, I own the company ‘Engaging Scientists’. It was founded in 2016 in response to requests for workshops about societal impact of academic research. Participants of my workshops include academics, impact professionals and policy makers. The aim of my workshops is to improve theoretical and practical understanding of impact policies and practices.  My workshops are characterized by interaction among participants and directly applying new insights. Interested in an impact workshop? The Workshop page provides more information.

Academic background

Often, I get the question what my discipline is. To be frank, I always have difficulties answering this question. Usually, my answer is that my field is ‘Science Studies’, which makes people think I work in a lab. Although I was trained as a biologist, it has been ages since I wore a white coat. Concepts form biology still influence my thinking, but I would not call myself ‘a biologist’.  Some call the field I work in ‘Science, Technology and Innovation Policy’, others refer to it as ‘Science and Technology Studies.’ But how would I refer to myself then? Truth is, I don’t really care about those labels. I do what I enjoy and I try to do that to the best of my abilities, using theories and methodologies from multiple disciplines, including public administration, management studies and, as said, biology. My professional background may help you to understand how I got to where I am now.

My fascination for the relation between science and wider society roots in my undergraduate studies in cell biology at Wageningen University (the Netherlands) from 2001-2005. Although the field of cell biology was capturing, my rather naïve question ‘What can we use this for?’ was not answered to my satisfaction.

Aiming to answering my question, I enrolled in the Medical Biotechnology track of the graduate program in Science and Innovation Management of Utrecht University (the Netherlands) in 2006. I concluded the program with a thesis on the societal relevance of biology in 2008. The thesis sparked my interest for doing research and proved to be the basis for my first academic publication, co-authored with my supervisors prof. dr. Harro van Lente and dr. Laurens Hessels

After my graduation, I joined the Science System Assessment department of the Rathenau Instituut in The Hague (the Netherlands) in 2009. This think tank, which is part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, conducts academic research to advise government, the science system and society about developments in science and technology and effects of these developments on society. My research focused on societal impact and evaluation of academic research. I was involved in the Evaluating Research in Context (ERiC) project, Social Impact Assessment Methods for research and funding instruments through the study of Productive Interactions between science and society (SIAMPI) project, the Comparative Monitoring of Knowledge for Climate project and the Valorization in the Social Sciences and Humanities project. In these projects, I discovered how much I enjoy exchanging knowledge through organizing workshops. The research resulted in my doctoral dissertation ‘Engaging scientists – Organising valorisation in the Netherlands’, supervised by prof. dr. Paul Wouters and co-supervised by dr. Inge van der Weijden of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. I successfully defended my dissertation in 2015 at Leiden University (the Netherlands).

Aiming to apply my knowledge on impact, I became a knowledge broker and grant adviser at Luris, the knowledge exchange office of Leiden University in 2015. Until 2017, I supported faculties, institutes and individual academics in the social sciences and humanities in their interaction with stakeholders and in applying for external funding. I have successfully contributed to collaborations with different types of organizations and to European and Dutch collaborative and individual grants. My practical experience with societal impact support resulted in the topic for the ‘Professional Practices’ and ‘Invisible Forces’ projects. My experience with grant writing helped me to get the funds to realize these projects.

More information, including an overview of publications and presentations, can be found on the CV Page.

To call me, send me an e-mail or follow me on Twitter, go to the Contact page.