Medal Award 2021

The Vietsch Foundation awards the 2021 Medal of Honour to Laurel Haak.

Laurel L. Haak, Founding Executive Director of ORCID, is the recipient of the 2021 medal of honour of the Vietsch Foundation.

The medal is awarded annually to people who have made a contribution of lasting value to the research and development of advanced Internet technology aimed to support science, research and higher education. The 2021 award ceremony was held online on the 22nd of June, during a plenary session of TNC2021, the leading European networking conference organised by GÉANT.

In the spirit of the award, which recognises individuals who have proved their organizational skills and whose efforts have led to the creation of institutions or services of long-term value, the choice fell on Laure as the best in a range of very qualified nominees. “Laure led the development of ORCID from a concept to a global, community-led, non-profit service used by more than ten million researchers. ORCID IDs are now the essential foundation for research processes in and between institutions, funders, and publishers: enabling the creation, testing, sharing and finding of new knowledge,” said Andrew Cormack, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Vietsch Foundation, explaining the rationale for the award.

Laure currently is the Founder and CEO of Mighty Red Barn where her work centers on trust-building to foster communities, through practice areas of digital infrastructure and identity, governance and decision frameworks, product strategy and practice. She also serves as a volunteer mentor for the SCORE small business start-up program. 

Prior to her work at ORCID, Laure was the Chief Science Officer at Discovery Logic, Inc. (acquired by Thomson Reuters and now part of Clarivate), providing workforce analysis, metrics, benchmarking, and data visualizations for funding agencies and academic institutions, including the development of the electronic Scientific Portfolio Assistant, which combined back-end database ingest, machine learning, and expert analytics to transform agency approaches to program evaluation.

As a program officer for the US National Academies, Laure managed expert panels and the development and publication of research policy reports for the US government, academic, and association stakeholders, including reports on interdisciplinary research, international students, and women in academia. This work built on her experience as editor of Science’s Next Wave Postdoc Network at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where she helped to build a community of practice around postdoctoral workforce policy and supported the launch of the National Postdoctoral Association. 

Laure received a B.S. and an M.S. in Biology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the US National Institutes of Health.

Wikipedia page:


The mission of the Vietsch Foundation is to promote research and development of advanced Internet technology for scientific research and higher education. The Vietsch Foundation fulfils its goals in two ways: First, it contributes funding to specific research and development projects that demonstrate potential value to progress European and global research and education networking. And second, each year it awards a medal of honour to people who have contributed to the development of services or technologies of lasting value that are used by the networking community and its users in research, development and education. The Foundation was created through the last will and testament of Willem Karel Vietsch (1952–2014), a Dutch expert, a leader of the international Internet community, and also the Secretary-General of TERENA, a former association of European national research and education networks. For details visit:

Lígia Maria Ribeiro steps down as Trustee of the Vietsch Foundation


Starting from the 1st of January 2021, Lígia Maria Ribeiro steps down as trustee of the Vietsch Foundation. Lígia is Principal Researcher at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto and set on the Board of Directors of the European University Information Systems Organization (EUNIS) until 2020. Since joining the Vietsch Foundation Board of Trustees in January 2018, Lígia has contributed enormously to the relation with EUNIS and to the establishment of many successful projects.

In saying farewell to her fellow trustees Lígia said “I want to express my satisfaction for having had the opportunity to be part of the Vietsch Foundation’s Board of Trustees over these three years.”

The Vietsch Foundation expresses many thanks to Lígia in return and wishes her all the best with her retirement.


Science Checker Project

Funded in 2020/21 – The Science Checker project built a free to access search engine, developing a novel approach that verifies scientific claims by means of analysing the pertinent and available scientific literature. The is now publicly available.

The subject of fake news is a very topical one. With social networks, and the advances of artificial intelligence, it is increasingly easier to create fake news and make them circulate quicker and quicker. Health and sciences are particularly nasty topic for fake news. Scam medicine, and worrisome information circulate, often based on absolutely no scientific facts. The current context of Covid19 pandemic has made the need to tackle this crisis in the scientific information even more serious. 

The grant was awarded to Opscidia, a startup which develops artificial intelligence tools that make use of open access articles to accelerate innovation, promote sound policies and help providing rigorous information to the general public. Thanks to the Vietsch Foundation grant, Opscidia will build a prototype online application that allows to check scientific fake news. This prototype will consist in different types of indicators based on the analysis of large volumes of scientific articles. These indicators will be easy to understand in order for the non-specialists to form quickly a good idea of whether an information is backed by the scientific literature, is under debate, or is totally groundless.

Medal award 2019

The 2019 Medal of Honour was awarded to Claudio Allocchio, senior technical officer for advanced applications and security at GARR, for the demonstrated achievements and long-lasting benefit he contributed to the research and education networking community throughout his career. John Dyer, member of the Board of Trustees of the Vietsch Foundation handed out the medal to Claudio Allocchio during a ceremony on 17 June 2019 at the TNC opening plenary.

The Vietsch Foundation Medal is awarded annually to individuals or teams that have developed new ideas as well as to those who have proved their organisational skills and whose efforts have led to the creation of institutions or services of long-term value.

In accepting the award, Claudio Allocchio said, “this is the most honorable award I could have received for my work, because it is in the name of Karel Vietsch, which I had the privilege to work together for so many years”.

Claudio Allocchio

Claudio Allocchio was born in 1959 in Crema, Italy where he attended high school. He had a clear interest in science, and technology, which in those years led him to coordinate a team of students who successfully built and launched a series of rockets. He then moved to Trieste, where he studied astrophysics and particle physics. In 1984 he won a study grant at CERN to apply astronomy image processing techniques to particle physics detectors track reconstruction, and then was confirmed as research fellow. At that time, he approached computer networking issues, creating the world first multiprotocol mail gateway service for universal messaging: “by pure coincidence” the user interface to access the global service was named GMAIL. He also started there to collaborate in creating network services in the High-Energy Physics community, and setup the first international link between CERN and Italy. In 1988 he moved back to Trieste, as network manager in the newly created Elettra Synchrotron Radiation facility, and joined the Gruppo Armonizzazione per le Reti della Ricerca (GARR) who later became the Italian NREN, and engaged in RARE WG1 mail and messaging, coordinating and later chairing the COSINE S2.2 proposal for a global messaging service. In 1991, Claudio was one of the RARE WG1 members who joined the IETF to standardize mail messaging systems, and since then was involved in the IETF Application Area, writing, editing and revising a significant number of RFCs. He also chaired some working groups, including the ietf-fax one, and took active part in all activities which involved messaging and real time communications. He was later called into the Application Area Directorate, and chaired it before the creation of the joint Applications and Real Time (ART) new area.  Starting in 1993 he was also involved in the creation of the “it” ccTLD domain Registry, and served as President of the Italian Naming Authority from 1995 to 2005 and advisor to Ministry of Communication domain names committee; he is  now a member of the ccTLD Registry Advisory Board. Claudio has worked in various roles in all GÉANT projects (including as Security Coordinator and as member of activities in the areas of multimedia, security, policy); he is currently also one of the main advisors for the EaPConnect project. He also was TERENA vice-president for technical programme from 2001 until 2007 and member of the board. In 2005 he started to work in the collaboration with Conservatorio Tartini in Trieste, where he is currently chief network engineer for LoLa development. Besides his education in Physics, he also has a formal education in music (piano).

Lígia Ribeiro

Former Member of  the Board of  Trustees 2018-2020

Lígia Ribeiro has been Principal Researcher at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) since 2002. At the University of Porto (U.Porto) she was Pro-rector for ICT between 2006 and 2014, after being Vice-president of the Institute for Common Resources and Initiatives and director of the Computer Centre of FEUP. She was responsible for several ICT projects at U.Porto, namely for the campus-wide information system SIGARRA, the institutional repository, the grid project and the e-learning cafés project.

Lígia Ribeiro is member of the Board of Directors of the European University Information Systems Organization (EUNIS). She was President of EUNIS between 2004 and 2006, after being vice-president for two years. She is also the chair of the European CASRAI Chapter, launched in April 2017. Since 2014 she is a member of the Task Group Best Practice/DRIS of the European Organization for International Research Information (euroCRIS). Between 2008 and 2011 she was member of the Technical Committee of TERENA, the Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association.

Lígia Ribeiro received her degree in Applied Mathematics at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto and holds a PhD in Engineering Science from the University of Minho. Her main research areas of interest are Computer Simulation, High Performance Computing, Information Systems, Electronic Administration and Informal Learning Spaces.

Andrew Cormack

Former Member of the Board of   Trustees 2016-2023

Andrew Cormack was Chief Regulatory Adviser for Jisc Technologies, the operator of the UK’s National Research and Education Network, Janet.

Andrew graduated in Mathematics from Cambridge University in 1984. As a life-long distance learner, he has also obtained degrees in law and humanities from the Open University and a Masters in Computer and Communications Law from Queen Mary, University of London (2015). He worked for Plessey Telecommunications, the Natural Environment Research Council’s Research Vessel Services, and Cardiff University, before being appointed head of Janet-CERT in 1999. He was a member of the Permanent Stakeholders’ Group of ENISA for ten years, and chair of the Funding Council of the Internet Watch Foundation from 2009-2013.

Andrew passed away on 13 April 2023, leaving a huge void in the Vietsch Foundation and will be sorely missed.