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What do people understand by risk?

37/2019, 15.10.2019

The BfR's Maria Sibylla Merian Fellowship awarded to psychologist Daniëlle Timmermans

How do people perceive health risks? And how does information about this affect behaviour? Professor Dr. Daniëlle Timmermans from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) carries out research on this and many other issues regarding risk communication. The Dutch scientist has been awarded the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment’s (BfR) Maria Sibylla Merian Fellowship for her scientific work. Timmermans will work with the BfR for two months and develop a joint research project with the VU. With this fellowship, the BfR honours people who have distinguished themselves through outstanding scientific achievements. "We look forward to working with Daniëlle Timmermans, who has made a mark with her research into dealing with uncertainties," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "This fellowship helps the Federal Institute boost its international network and expertise in the field of risk communication."

Further information on the Maria Sibylla Merian Fellowship:

Daniëlle Timmermans has been a professor at the VU’s University Medical Center since 2008 and investigates how people deal with information regarding health risks. She focuses on public health issues, such as prenatal screening, cancer screening or environmental risks and hazardous substances. Her research, which incorporates theories and models from medicine and psychology, contributes to improving risk communication.

The psychologist also gained ample experience at the Dutch Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) from 2013 to 2019. As the scientist responsible for risk communication, her tasks included establishing a research network between the RIVM and external researchers, and translating scientific findings into practical action.

Timmermans is being awarded the BfR’s Maria Sibylla Merian Fellowship for her scientific achievements. She intends to develop a joint research project on risk communication and strengthen cooperation with scientists from the BfR, the VU, and the RIVM in the course of her two-month guest stay at the BfR.

With the Maria Sibylla Merian Fellowship, the BfR promotes knowledge transfer between internationally renowned scientists and researchers at the Federal Institute. The name pays tribute to the natural scientist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), who stood out thanks to her extraordinary pioneering spirit in bioscientific research at the turn of the 18th century. Merian’s independent achievements are a model for the BfR’s work in the field of consumer health protection.

Previous senior fellows were Professor Malcolm Macleod (University of Edinburgh), Dr. Valérie Fessard (French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, ANSES), and Professor Hans Schenkel (University of Hohenheim).

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.


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