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Two of the five young researchers from Erasmus University Rotterdam awarded prestigious Veni Grants from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) announced today are from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). Assistant professors Dr Sofya Isaakyan from the department of Organisation and Personnel Management and Dr Harwin de Vries from the department of Technology and Operations Management will be able to develop their ideas further for a period of three years as a result of their awards from the NWO Talent Programme.

Veni Grants are given to highly promising young researchers who have recently gained their PhDs. A total of 60 Veni awards from the 2021 round for the Social Sciences and Humanities were announced today and are worth a maximum of €280,000 each. These Veni awards are delayed from 2021 as a result of the pandemic and a hack, which forced NWO to suspend all activities. Today’s announcement also includes awards for researchers in Applied Engineering Sciences.

Gender-related biased evaluations

Dr Isaakyan’s research, How can female leaders effectively manage employee voice? seeks to understand the implications of increasing discussions about social equality and societal efforts to introduce it in organisations that have yet resulted in female leaders still facing gender-related biased evaluations. These evaluations may be triggered when female leaders endorse or reject their employees’ change-oriented ideas, consequently leading to negative implications for themselves. Her research provides timely solutions enabling female leaders to effectively manage their employees’ change-oriented ideas and overcome biased evaluations.

Sofya received her PhD in Organizational Behaviour from Maastricht University in 2018. Her research focuses on understanding employees' upward expression of ideas and concerns about work-related issues and the corresponding reactions by managers and team members. She also explores factors affecting leadership development and leader identity. Before entering academia, Sofya worked as a consultant and evaluated the effectiveness of leadership development programmes.

Decisions in health services

Dr De Vries’ research, Optimizing Health Service Delivery Channels in Low- and Middle-Income Countries develops models, algorithms, insights, and simple decision rules for decision makers to enhance access to health services. Stakeholders are investing in four service delivery channels: static clinics, mobile outreach, door-to-door outreach, and virtual outreach. Which channels to select for a given service and context remains an open question.

Harwin gained his PhD in Operations Research from the Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2017. Several of his research projects have already been transformed into teaching cases. He also serves as academic focal point at the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation. Before joining RSM, Harwin worked at INSEAD (France) as postdoctoral researcher and manager of the INSEAD Humanitarian Research Group.

Veni grants for Erasmus University researchers

The three other researchers from Erasmus University benefitting from Veni grants are:

  • Dr Noortje Jacobs of Erasmus MC with Valuing the body: a moral history of human tissues in twentieth-century medicine
  • Dr Irene van Oorschot, department of Sociology, Erasmus University Rotterdam with Caring for Resilience: A Multi-Sited Ethnography of Knowing, Valuing, and Managing Nature
  • Dr Julian Schaap, Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication No music, no life? How music shapes subjective wellbeing across social groups

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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