SURF Research Support Champions 2022: Sarah Coombs, Serkan Girgin, Michèle Huijberts

The SURF Research Support Champions 2022 are Sarah Coombs (Saxion University of Applied Sciences), Serkan Girgin (University of Twente) and Michèle Huijberts (Leiden University Medical Centre). The winners were announced during SURF Research Week, the annual event where research and IT meet.

Serkan Girgin, Michèle Huijberts, Ron Augustus, Sarah Coombs

“In fact, all the research supporters nominated by their colleagues this year are winners,” stresses jury president Ron Augustus. “When reading the nomination forms submitted, it is clear that they all have an enormous added value. It is great to see that the people who nominated these research supporters value them so highly.” 

The diversity of the candidates also struck the jury. This also illustrates how diverse the field is. What it takes to provide research support is reflected in the varied list of candidates. The jury members who work in research found it nice to see that so many people are so involved in the research they support. 

The jury unanimously selected these 3 winners:

Category Universities:
Serkan Girgin, associate professor and head of the Center of Expertise in Big Geodata Science, University of Twente
“Without his support, I would not have been able to conduct my research.”

Serkan was nominated by several people: colleagues at the University of Twente, but also researchers abroad. He clearly has a broad network. Serkan built a data analysis platform that provides easy access to many open-source geographical analysis tools. The nominations show that Serkan really makes an impact in his field. He is very active in promoting open and reproducible research in the wider scientific community, and also looks beyond national borders.

Category Universities of Applied Sciences:
Sarah Coombs, adviser Research Support at Saxion
“She has put research support on the map, both within Saxion and nationally.”

Sarah’s strength is that she understands the work of the researcher. She not only supports researchers at her own institution, but is also very active nationally and internationally. She is a true expert and has played an important role in the professionalisation of data stewardship. Among other things, Sarah has ensured that 20 universities of applied sciences have joined forces in a Digital Competence Center (DCC) to work together on research support at a national level. 

Category UMC & Research:
Michèle Huijberts, information architect at the radiology department of UMC Leiden
Michèle goes above and beyond to support all the digital needs in our group.”

Michèle developed an infrastructure that automatically anonymises and stores images from MRI scanners. This required connections between the hospital’s storage system, the hardware of the MRI scanner, the system for electronic patient information and a server for anonymising imaging to comply with privacy regulations. This will make it possible to scan patients in less than 10 minutes instead of the current 30-60 minutes. With huge implications for patient comfort, but also for the logistical flow and finances of the hospital. The data infrastructure also makes it possible to collaborate with other institutes.

See the full jury report (pdf)

About the SURF Research Support Champions 

The SURF Research Support Champions have made a special effort to support research at their own institution and the field of research support in general. Researchers are often in the spotlight, but support staff are just as essential for high-quality scientific results. With this prize, SURF aims to provide a platform for research support staff at its institutions and to inspire others. 

For the purposes of this prize, SURF understands ‘research support staff’ to mean anyone who supports researchers in the field of research data management and IT. They help with storing, managing, archiving, and sharing their research data, but also with software development and advice about research applications. For example, data stewards, IT professionals, librarians or research assistants. 

Nominated by colleagues

The candidates were nominated by their colleagues, by researchers and by managers. In assessing the submissions, the jury looked at the quality of the support, the way the nominees connect the needs of researchers with research support, and the impact of their work. The submissions received by the jury were extensive and enthusiastically supported. 

The jury of the SURF Research Support Champions 2022

Ron Augustus, chief innovation officer SURF (jury chairman)
Joris van Eijnatten, Director Netherlands eScience Center
Petra Drankier, senior policy advisor to the Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres
Lisa Oskam, board member of PhD Network Netherlands
Hans Vossensteyn, DCC Practically-oriented Research, Saxion
Jeroen Rombouts, DCC Implementation Network, EUR

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