The Outstanding Alumnus Award is awarded to an alumnus or alumna of Wageningen University & Research who is a role model at the height of his or her carrier and who has shown an outstanding commitment to contribute to ‘Quality of Life’.
The Outstanding Alumnus Award was first awarded during the 87th Dies Natalis of Wageningen University & Research in 2005.
Winner - Niels Louwaars
This year, the Outstanding Alumnus Award is won by dr. ir. Niels Louwaars, Director of Plantum, Dutch association for the plant reproduction material sector. The award was granted by Jannemarie de Jonge (board member of KLV) during the celebrartion of the 98th Dies Natalis of Wageningen University & Research.
The jury considers Louwaars a role model for professionals and researchers in the seed industry, and praises the way he connects stakeholders in this important industry for the Netherlands. "Niels Louwaars is a bridge builder. He knows how to make connections between governments, business' and knowledge institutes. Also in the content of his work he makes links between worldproblems such as poverty, food security, climate change and the private seedsector, between research, businesslife and society, and between formal and informal reproduction material sector."
Next to a judicium and a certificate, the prize winners also receive a small sculpture called 'Freedom', made by sculptor Marian Spekreijse.
In response to the award, an article about dr. ir. Niels Louwaars was published in the magazine Wageningen World in 2016. You can read the article through the link below.
Niels Louwaars is director of Plantum, the association of companies in the Netherlands dealing with plant reproductive materials. Trained as a plant breeder at Wageningen University & Research, he spent about 10 years in Asia and Africa working in seed projects before returning to Wageningen University. There he worked for 20 years in different positions dealing with international cooperation and research. Based on that international experience, he developed the concept of Integrated Seed Sector Development, providing policy space for a variety of formal and informal seed systems. His PhD dealt with the interplay of policies and regulatory issues related to such seed systems, including intellectual property rights (WTO), national sovereign rights on biological diversity (CBD and ITPGRFA), Farmers’ Rights (ITPGRFA), and national seed laws. During that period he assisted several countries and institutions like the World Bank and FAO in designing their policies in this area. In Wageningen he was also manager of a major international interdisciplinary programme and represented the organization in the CGIAR. He was also a member of the Plant Breeder’s Rights chamber of the district court in The Hague. Currently he represents the Netherlands seed sector nationally and internationally.
For the award of 2016, the jury consisted of:
- Ir. Ton Loman on behalf of the Wageningen Ambassadors
- Prof. dr. ir. A.P.J. Arthur Mol on behalf of Wageningen University & Research and University Fund Wageningen
- Dr. ir. Jannemarie de Jonge on behalf of KLV
Outstanding Alumnus Award 2013
Prof. dr ir. Louise O. Fresco was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2013. The jury referred to Prof. L.O. Fresco, a Distinguished Professor in Wageningen, as one of the best-known and most influential graduates that the university has seen in recent years, and someone who enjoys world-wide renown.
At the 91st Dies of Wageningen University & Research, alumnus awards were given to three special alumni. The three winning alumni were Azene Bekele-Tesemma from Ethiopia, Prof. Floor van Leeuwen of the Netherlands Cancer Institute and journalist and writer Frank Westerman. With these awards, the university praises alumni, which have had an extraordinary career after graduating.
prof.dr.ir. F.E. (Floor) van Leeuwen (1956), professor Epidemiology of cancer at the VU in Amsterdam and Ir. F.M. Westerman (1964), journalist and writer, were awarded the alumnus award. Dr. A Bekele-Tesemma was awarded the Alumnus Awards for Innovative Development.
Prof.dr.ir F.E. van LeeuwenFloor van Leeuwen graduated cum laude in 1981 from Wageningen in human nutrition, with a graduation research about the relation between nutrition and cancer. She gained her PhD in 1994 at the VU in Amsterdam and was appointed as an extraordinary professor in 1998, next to her work at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. The jury praises her scientific dedication and precision, in combination with a distinct community involvement. Some of her research themes are: the pill and breast cancer, passive smoking and lung cancer, the re-emerging of tumors after treatment and the effects of DES (diethylstilbesterol) on daughters. When Floor van Leeuwen received the Muntendam prize of the Koningin Wilhelminafonds, she invested the prize money to start a research concerning the long term effects of DES on DES-daughters in and after the transition.
Ir. F.M. Westerman
Frank Westerman (1964) grew up in Assen and studied Tropical Culture technique at the Agricultural University Wageningen. In 1987 he lived in the Andes in Peru, where he studied the irrigation systems of Aymara-Indians. Frank graduated cum laude and can use the title Ir.
He wrote his first journalistic reports while he was studying. He kept track of the attempt of Mario Vargas Llosa to become president of Peru for the Parool and he wrote about the American anti-drugs campaign to destroy the farming of coca in Chapare-region of Bolivia. Because Frank wanted to dedicate his work to writing, he continued with journalism. In 1993 he wrote the thirty-page story ‘the good lake’ for the magazine Atlas: His debut in the literature. At 27 years old he became the youngest correspondent for the Volkskrant. He published his first book ‘The bridge over the Tara’ about his experiences in the Balkan. In many reviews he is praised for his style and writer skills. Dirk-Jan van Baar in Intermediar stated: ‘Westerman is not just a journalist, but also a writer, and a really good one’. Since 2002 Frank Westerman works as a writer in Amsterdam. He also wrote tens of articles for the NRC Handelsblad (Saturday edition Z and Magazine M).
Dr. A. Bekele-TessemaThe Ethiopian Bekele-Tesemma gained his PhD in 1997 at Agricultural University Wageningen. He now works for the International AgroForestry-Institute ICRAF in Nairobi as an advisor. Bekele-Tesemma is committed to help farmers in Kenya and Ethiopia. In 2004 he won 20.000 dollars for the best poster during a conference of the CGIAR. He used the prize money for an organisation for farmers, to a.o. create a prize for the most innovative farmer.
Dr. P. Kibwika
Paul Kibwika is one of the founder members of PICOTEAM and is the Team Leader of PICO-Uganda Ltd. Since five years ago, Paul Kibwika has extensively and intensively engaged in facilitating and documenting learning and change processes in organisations. He engages in such processes of organisational transformation as an action researcher who seeks to see the impact of his engagement. Broadly, capacity building is a major focal area of his professional practice. His recent book on Learning to make change: developing innovation competence in recreating the African University of the 21. century explains efforts to make the African university more innovative and responsive to community needs and the challenges posed by sustainability.
Paul Kibwika obtained his PhD in 2007 in Social Science at Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands. He is also a senior lecturer and researcher in the Department of Agricultural Extension/Education, Makerere University, Uganda where he has served for over thirteen years now. His research interest is in the social dimensions of agrarian development particularly, local organisations development and empowerment; agricultural innovation systems; and transformative learning. In pursuance of these interests, he believes in people’s capabilities to solve their own problems as a core value. Accordingly he applies facilitative approaches to enhancing people’s space and confidence to act as they respond to challenges and opportunities in their environment.