Options Winter 2021: Q&A with Roula Inglesi-Lotz, Professor of Economics at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and member of the Global Young Academy (GYA). IIASA collaborates with the GYA to develop, connect, and mobilize young research talent from around the world. The GYA gives young scientists a voice in the global scientific community and empowers them to make evidence-based and inclusive decisions, and lead international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational collaboration.

Portrait of Roula Inglesi-Lotz © Alexandria and Mediterranean Research Center

Q . What first attracted you to the GYA and what have been some of the biggest takeaways from your involvement?

A . When I first learned of the GYA, I was attracted to its focus on a multicultural and multidisciplinary perspective. The GYA provides young scientists with a platform to express their voice, and so much more: a place to engage with other scientists from all over the world and gain exposure to unfamiliar backgrounds and scientific systems. In my second year, I served as co-lead of the Women in Science Working Group. The discussions, outreach, and outcomes of this group taught me a lot about the global conditions of women in science, including their aspirations and challenges. It was eye-opening to see how similar we all are and how women are striving to make an impact on current and future generations of women in science. I am sincerely inspired by all of them.

Q . Why is collaboration so important across international, disciplinary, generational, and other boundaries?

A . Collaboration across all kinds of boundaries has become the norm in recent times. Scientists worldwide have demonstrated the benefits of international collaboration during the pandemic with the development of vaccines and examination of the virus. Ensuring gender and generational inclusivity, not only in the working environment but also in decisionmaking processes, helps to achieve goals that are more inclusive and multi-perspective. Young scientists are often excluded from science decision-making even though senior academics and researchers admit that early-career researchers bring fresh perspectives and informed, modern, and relevant expertise from the point of view of scientific knowledge and science leadership. Promoting, supporting, and including early career researchers will not only have direct effects on the current generation of scientists, but also multiplier effects on the next generation.

Q . What outcomes do you hope to see in your time with the GYA?

A . The GYA demonstrates how diversity in our membership ensures that everyone brings something to the table. However, there is still work to be done. GYA has a number of important projects in the pipeline. One example is the Global State of Young Scientists (GloSYS), which will empower higher education stakeholders to make a difference and ensure a conducive environment for young scholars in Africa. I am also very enthusiastic about the GYA’s involvement at the organization of the World Science Forum 2022, an international conference dedicated to current global issues and future priorities for promoting cross-disciplinary and innovative work and collaborations.

By Jeremy Summers