Speakers and Panellists

Speakers and Panellists


Speakers and Panellists row 1

Themis Christophidou

Themis Christophidou. Photo.

Director-General, Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, DG EAC, European Commission

Themis Christophidou is the Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission, since March 2018. She is a civil engineer with 35 years of experience in private and public sector management.

After having worked in the private sector for 15 years, she joined the European Commission in 2001 and held various positions, including in the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, as Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and as Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. Themis Christophidou is an alumna of the civil engineering faculty of the Metsovio Polytechnic University of Athens, specialised in transport infrastructure and urban transport. Born in Famagusta, Cyprus, she is trilingual Greek, French, English.


Signe Ratso

Signe Ratso. Photo.

Deputy Director-General, Research and Innovation, DG RTD, European Commission

Signe Ratso is Deputy Director-General and a member of the Management Board of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission. She is the Chief negotiator for Horizon Europe Association and also responsible for Open Innovation and for citizens’ engagement in R&I policy and for overall coordination on international cooperation.

Before joining DG R&I she worked in different senior management positions in
DG Trade since 2006.

Before joining the Commission she worked as Deputy Secretary General at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of the Republic of Estonia. During Estonia's accession negotiations she was responsible for negotiating 6 economic chapters.

She has two University degrees from Tartu University in Estonia as an English philologist and in International Trade and International Economics.


Anne Borg

Anne Borg. Photo.

Rector, NTNU

Anne Borg was appointed as Rector at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU) in December 2019. NTNU is the largest university in Norway with a main profile in science and technology, with a wide academic breadth.

Anne Borg has previously been Pro-Rector for Education at NTNU from 2017 to 2019, and Dean at the Faculty of Natural Sciences from 2013 to 2017.

Borg has been a professor in condensed matter physics since 1998, and among her research areas are surface physics, materials physics, scanning probe microscopy, photoemission Spectroscopy and density functional theory. Her research has resulted in a wide range of scientific publications with 96 publications in international journals with referee as an author or co-author of. Since 2017 she is chairing the Scientific Advisory Committee of MAX IV Laboratory, and in 2018 Professor Anne Borg was awarded an Honorary Doctorate at the Science Faculty of Lund University.


Speakers and Panellists row 2

Kumsal Bayazit

Kumsal Bayazit. Photo.

Chief Executive Officer, Elsevier

Kumsal Bayazit was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Elsevier in February 2019. She has held multiple positions with RELX Group since 2004, most recently as Regional President Europe, Middle East and Africa at Reed Exhibitions.

Before joining Reed Exhibitions in 2016, Kumsal was RELX Group’s Chief Strategy Officer, responsible for driving strategic initiatives, technology strategy and portfolio management. Prior to that she served in several operational and strategic roles with LexisNexis.

Kumsal also chairs the Technology Forum at RELX Group. Prior to joining RELX Group in 2004, Kumsal spent several years at Bain & Company in their New York, Los Angeles, Johannesburg and Sydney offices. 

Kumsal earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a graduate of University of California at Berkeley where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with honors.

Tor Grande

Pro-Rector for Research, NTNU

Tor Grande was appointed Pro-Rector for Research at NTNU, 1 January 2021. He was previously Vice Dean for Research at the Faculty of Natural Sciences (2013-2020) and Head of Department of Department of Materials Science and Engineering (2005-2009, 2020).

Grande has been a professor in Materials Chemistry/Science at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, since 1997. He has been a visiting scientist at NIRIM (NIMS) in Japan and University of Rennes and been on sabbatical leave at Northwestern University and EPFL.

He has been a principal investigator in a range of projects which have received both national and international funding, including also several related to research infrastructures. He is author/co-author of about 300 publications in international journals with referee, and he is a co-author of a textbook on thermodynamics of materials. He has supervised 32 PhD candidates and 13 post docs.

He is currently member of the Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity in Research – Norway and he was awarded the Gender Equality Award at NTNU, in 2009. He was also elected a member of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters in 2011.

 Federica Rosetta

Federica Rosetta. Photo.

Vice President, Academic and Research Relations EU, Elsevier

As Vice President, Academic and Research Relations, EU, Federica Rosetta leads on strategic initiatives and external collaborations across policy and research communities in the EU and Nordics.

In this capacity, her primary focus is on matters related to Open Science, research policy and innovation.

Her experience in scholarly communications, earned in 17 years at Elsevier, spans marketing communications, publishing, business development and policy.

Her passion for publishing traces back to her master’s degree in Literature, Press and Publishing.


Speakers and Panellists row 3

Armand Sánchez

Armand Sánchez. Photo.

Vice-Rector for Research and Transference, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Armand Sánchez is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG, CSIC-IRTA-UAB-UB consortium), director of the Veterinary Molecular Genetics Service (SVGM), member of the TECNIO d’ACCIÓ network, head of the consolidated research group on Veterinary Molecular Genetic Improvement, and is founder of Vetgenomics, the first technology-based company (TBC) at the UAB.

He has directed 25 doctoral theses, has participated as a principal investigator in 35 research projects –both national and European – in the field of animal genomics, and has been responsible for over 80 R&D contracts with companies and administrations. His research focuses on the genetic characterisation of properties of productive interest and the development of new analytical tools for veterinary molecular diagnosis.

He has published 191 indexed articles and has undertaken stays at the University of Edinburgh, I.N.R.A Jouy-en-Josas (France) and the University of California at Davis. He has been a member of the CNEAI and vice-president of the Spanish Society of Genetics. He is an elected member of the University Senate, the Governing Council and the UAB Committee for the Transfer of Knowledge and Strategic Projects. He has been a member of the Board of Teaching and Research Staff, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Director of the Department of Animal and Food Science, Rector's Delegate for Personnel and Relations with Social Stakeholders (2002-2008) and Vice-Rector for Research and Transference (2016-2020).

Marit Reitan

Marit Reitan. Photo.

Pro-Rector for Education, NTNU

Marit Reitan holds the position of Pro-Rector for Education at NTNU, ensuring the strategic development and quality within the educational area. She has served as the Dean at the Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences (2017 and 2020) and as the Dean at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management (2013-2016).

She is Professor of Political Science specializing in public policy and administration and she has a special interest in environment and energy policy, natural resource management and local politics. She has been a Professor at the Department of Sociology and Political Science since 2009 and an Associate Professor (1998 to 2009) as well as Chair of the Department of Sociology and Political Science(2009-2012). She has been a guest researcher at the University of California, Berkeley from 2012 to 2013.

She has participated in diverse research projects which have received both national and international financing. In the period 2006 – 2012, she participated in the programs «Democracy and Governance in Regional Context» (DEMOSREG)  and «Climate Change and Consequences in Norway» (CLIMADAPT) both financed by the Norwegian Research Council (NFR).

She is also the Chair of NTNU’s Education Committee and member of several education-related networks and groups. She has been the chairwoman of UHR-Social Science and deputy chairwoman at SINTEF. She has been a Board member of the Norwegian Institute for Social Research, the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research and the University College in Lillehammer. She has also been a member of the Board of Directors for the program «Social Science Petroleum Research» (PETROSAM) at the Norwegian Research Council. Reitan also participated in the government-appointed expert committee that worked out the proposal for the  Natural Diversity Act of 2009. 

Erik Renström

Erik Renström. Photo.

Rector, Lund University

Erik Renström is a physician and professor of experimental endocrinology, has extensive academic experience. He has until now been the dean of Lund University’s Faculty of Medicine. Renström is Rector of Lund University as of 1 January 2021.

Erik Renström has broad experience in public healthcare, academia and the business sector and has also worked at the intersection between the different actors on several projects. Renström’s research focuses on diabetes, particularly the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

He became professor of experimental endocrinology in 2009 at Lund University and dean of the University’s Faculty of Medicine in 2018. He has conducted diabetes research in Lund and Gothenburg and spent time as a postdoc in the UK. Erik Renström has also worked as a researcher at the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk A/S in Copenhagen in the years 1995­–1997. Erik Renström has been assistant coordinator of the diabetes centre LUDC, which became a Linnaeus Centre in 2006, as well as coordinator for Exodiab, one of the Swedish Government’s strategic research areas (SRAs).


Speakers and Panellists row 4

 Vanessa Debiais-Sainton

Vanessa Debiais-Sainton. Photo.

Head of Higher Education Unit, European Commission, DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture

Vanessa Debiais-Sainton is Head of the Unit in charge of Higher Education policies and programmeat the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. The unit is the lead service for European policies on reform and transformation of higher education, the new European Universities initiative, automatic mutual recognition of higher education qualifications, the creation of the EU student card, and the higher education strand of Erasmus+.

In previous posts in the European Commission, Vanessa has worked in DG Research and Innovation. Before moving to the European Commission in 2006, Vanessa spent eight years working for several petroleum and chemical companies.

 Alexandru Marchis

Alexandru Marchis. Photo.

UnILiON Chair

Alexandre Vasile Marchis is, since January 2020, the Secretary General of the Universities Informal Liaison Offices Network (UnILiON) and has been one of the founding members. In this position he leads the network to strengthen its position as a key structure for engagement with decision-makers and stakeholders in education, research and innovation at EU level.

With a background in economics, he holds a PhD in political sciences from Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan and two post university degrees, in agri-business and in diplomatic international relations. Since 2010 is in charge of the research and innovation outreach from the Brussels Office of the UCSC. Among other previous experiences, he worked for the Ministry of Agriculture in Romania; Attaché at the Permanent Representation of Romania to the EU, as well as coordinator of the UNCCD Soil Leadership Academy project, an international administrative capacity building project for the implementation of the soil related SDGs.

Lesley Thompson

Lesley Thompson. Photo.

Vice President Academic and Government Relations, Elsevier

Lesley Thompson joined Elsevier in 2016 and is now Vice President Academic and Government Relations. Prior to joining Elsevier, Thompson worked for 26 years at the EPSRC, as Research Director, responsible for the strategy and delivery of the scientific programme.

She was responsible for driving the quality of the research portfolio as well as fostering the collaboration with industry. EPSRC’s collaboration with industry grew from 12 to 54% from 1994 to 2015 while the international research standing grew, ensuring the portfolio delivered Excellence with Impact. While at EPSRC, she introduced a number of innovations including; Ideas Factories; Discipline Hopping and CDT’s, from 2 centres in 2001 to 115 centres in 2014.

Martin Paul

Martin Paul. Photo..

President of Maastricht University and the Chair of YUFE Alliance

Martin Paul has been President of Maastricht University (UM) since 2011. After obtaining a medical degree and a doctorate from Heidelberg University, he has held several academic positions in Germany, the United States and the Netherlands.

In addition to his distinguished career as a researcher (with more than 300 publications) in the fields of medicine and pharmacology as well as an educator, Professor Paul has become active in academic management. He has been Dean of the Medical Faculty of the Freie Universität and Vice President of the Charité Medical Center In Berlin. Furthermore, he has served as Dean of the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences at UM and as Vice President of Maastricht University Medical Centre+, where he holds a chair in Clinical Pharmacology. Professor Paul has worked actively to professionalise academic leadership on the international level. In this context, he has served as Chair of DEAN, a European network of deans and as a board member of the Association of Academic Health Centers International (AAHCI). He is an elected member of the Netherlands Academy for Technology and Innovation and of the Austrian Science Council.

Furthermore, Professor Paul has been elected as Chair of the YUFE (Young Universities for the Future of Europe) alliance in 2019, which has been the top ranked proposal in the recent European Commission call to create true European universities. In addition, he serves on several advisory and supervisory boards in the Netherlands, Europe and beyond.

Speakers and Panellists row 5

 Angela Ittel

Angela Ittel. Photo

Vice President TU Berlin, ENHANCE

Angela Ittel is Professor of Educational Psychology and concerned with the areas of strategic development, junior scholars, and teacher education.

Strategic development includes collaborative research (strategic development), international relations, diversity and equality.
She also supervises the TU Berlin Center for Junior Scholars (TUB-CJS), the Modern Language Center (ZEMS), the Language and Cultural Exchange (SKB), the Center for Technology and Society (CTS) and the Tenure-Track-Programme, as well as the Central Institute El Gouna and the School of Education (SETUB).

Peter Lievens

Peter Lievens. Photo.

Vice Rector of International Policy and LERU, responsible for Alumni Policy, UNA Europa, KU Leuven

Peter Lievens is professor in experimental physics in the Depart-ment of Physics and Astronomy of KU Leuven. He obtained his PhD in 1991 at KU Leuven in nuclear physics, on laser spec-troscopy studies of ground state properties of short-lived strontium nuclei. He was Fellow at ISOLDE in the Experimental Physics Division at CERN, Geneva, Switzerland in 1991-1992. In 1993 he returned to Leuven as a postdoc of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), initiating research projects in nanoscience and experimental quantum physics. He obtained tenure in

2001 as research professor and has been full professor since 2007.From 2009 till 2017 he was Dean of the Faculty of Science. Since August 2017 he is KU Leuven’s Vice Rector responsible for International Policy, LERU, and Alumni Policy. Currently, he chairs the Board of Directors of UNA Europa and is coordinating the 1EUROPE European Universities Initiative. The research activities of his group focus on physical and chemical properties of nanoclusters in the gas phase, individual clusters on surfaces, cluster assembled thin films, and low-dimensional systems. He published over 260 papers in international peer-reviewed journals and presented over 60 invited lectures at international conferences, workshops, and universities. He is or has been supervisor of 30 PhD students.


Maryline Fiaschi

Marylin Fiaschi. Photo.

Managing Director, Science|Business

Maryline Fiaschi joined Science|Business in 2011 where she now leads the company’s operations and growth strategy. Previously, she managed EU education programmes with the European Commission for six years, before entering the media business in 2007. She held business development positions at Shanghai Daily and EU affairs media company EurActiv. She is also an external evaluator for several EU higher education and research and innovation programmes. Maryline holds degrees from Université La Sorbonne, Università di Bologna and Université de Louvain.



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