Prof. dr. ir. David Smeulders (TU / e), chairman, scientific director 4TU-RE
A resilience approach to research is especially valuable in my field of expertise, energy technology. While power supply is vital to many aspects of modern life, it is important to evaluate the energy system through a resilience lens. Think about hospitals for example. How can we make sure vital systems stay operational if the electricity network fails? Or how can we predict and even mitigate seismic events in the Groningen area that have to do with our gas production?
Integrating this resilience lens into energy research brings new aspects into focus which might have otherwise gone unnoticed. In energy systems we might, for example, ask how a minor mistake at an electrical substation can trigger a cascade of disruptions and ultimately the collapse of an entire network. How can we prevent these cascades from happening? How can we design networks where we prevent these downstream effects? And how can we quantify the robustness or resilience of such a system?
I think the most important thing for the Centre to accomplish is connecting all the research disciplines that have adopted the resilience approach. For my research, collaboration with stochastic mathematicians would be very useful. On the other hand, as we always deal with people, the integration of human oriented research would be meaningful as well. For many types of research, the Centre can add value by sharing knowledge and perspectives. For example: a research group studying food supply systems in Wageningen might already have some answers to questions researchers in Eindhoven are working on and vice versa. Currently, the most notable breakthroughs in science occur at the crossroads between disciplines and I hope the Centre will provide us with many of those opportunities.
If you want to know more about my research, have a look here.