Researcher and lecturer Kenny Meesters receives Open Science Award for research in Ukraine
In the Spring of 2022, a call for Open Science Use Cases was published as part of the National Open Science Festival. This invitation was open to all researchers and PhD students from Dutch research universities, universities of applied sciences, and research institutes. The result was a collection of twelve Use Cases focusing on social engagement. On September 1, 2022, five of them were presented with an Open Science Award.
Kenny Meesters, researcher and lecturer at Tilburg University, is one of the five winners, together with his colleague Abby Onencan (Erasmus University Rotterdam). They received the award for their open-science approach, in co-creation with the local community, to reducing risks after a disaster has taken place.
Central to the approach is jointly designing and implementing all aspects of the project with the community, for instance, collecting data, processing and discussing the results and developing an action plan to deal with the risks. This joint approach does not only empower the local community but also helps to transfer academic knowledge and build local capacity and resilience so people will be able to cope with any future risks or disasters.
The approach of participative risk mapping does not only open a larger and richer dataset for researchers, but it also teaches communities how to prepare well for any future emergencies and it allows policy makers to take evidence-based decisions. Young people also play an important role in voicing their concerns and sparking the discussion on risks and how to cope with them.
The award-winning study took place in Solotvyno, a town in western Ukraine. The area used to be rich in salt but decades of salt mining have destabilized the ground. This has led to enormous sinkholes that threaten the lives and safety of the community. Together with the local authorities and the people of Solotvyno, an approach was created to improve safety.
This method was designed to teach societal actors to collect data, analyse them, and learn from this process. With the knowledge acquired in this way, the local community will be better able to prepare itself for any future emergencies. The program committee praised this study because the local community was involved in every step of the process. For instance, young people were invited to submit proposals, collect data, and suggest solutions for social issues.
This study was carried out as part of the ImProDiReT project, funded by the European Directorate-General of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO).
More information on the Open Science festival is available at www.opensciencefestival.nl.