Stimulating international contacts for young researchers through the HJS Fund

The HJS Fund invests in young agrobiologists and crop scientists to facilitate research in agrobiology and crop sciences. Special attention is given to sustainable food production.

Fund target group

PhD- and post doctoral students associated to Wageningen University and younger than 35 years of age receive one grant of maximum €1,500 per year for a study trip to a foreign university or research institute. The goal is for them to acquire more in-depth knowledge of their domain.

The impact of your gift

New contacts and feedback are important for the development of young researchers. Your gift gives researchers the chance to test their ideas elsewhere. The research they conduct in their domain has a positive effect in aiding to the solution of impending global food shortage.

The Huub and Julienne Spiertz Fund (HJS Fund) extended the first two subsidies to Wageningen post doctoral students Jantiene Baartman and Gisella Cruz Garcia in March 2012.

Success stories

Jantiene Baartman has a master degree in Soil Sciences and her PhD research focused on soil erosion processes. She successfully defended her thesis on 9 May 2012. She currently works as a post doc-researcher and teaches in the Soil Physics and Land Management (SLM) study programme at Wageningen University. She combined soil sciences, hydrology and geomorphology for her PhD research.

Jantiene used the HJS subsidy to present her thesis at the conference ‘European Geosciences Union’ (EGU) in Vienna and to network with international top researchers there. She hopes to gain new ideas for future research but also to create opportunities for joint cooperation on international projects. Taking the scope and parameters of the conference into account, this was the ideal place for a young researcher to meet experts from various research domains.

Gisella Cruz Garcia teaches at the chair group Sociology of Consumers and Households and is a PhD student in the departments of Plant Sciences and Social Sciences at Wageningen University. The subsidy allowed Gisella to attend the ‘International Society of Ethnobiology’ in Montpellier, France, from 20-25 May 2012. There, she presented the results of her doctoral research ‘Management, distribution and local uses of wild trees in Northeast Thai agro-ecosystems’. As a Dutch representative, Gisella also took place as member of the board of the International Society of International Ethnobiology. Lastly, she was responsible for the organisation and awarding of a student prize.

Prior to the congress, Gisella co-organised a two-day workshop and was member of its advisory committee. The workshop named, ‘Brick by Brick: laying the foundations for future biocultural diversity research’, offered a full programme and ample opportunity for networking, thereby, opening doors to possible future partnerships.

Jantiene Baartman
Jantiene Baartman
 Gisella Cruz Garcia
Gisella Cruz Garcia

Interview Mr. and Mrs. Spiertz

Mr. and Mrs. Spiertz

21 May 2015 prof. Huub Spiertz deceased. The Fund will be proceed by his wife Julienne.

Professor Huub Spiertz, emeritus professor Crop Ecology at Wageningen University, decided to create a Fund on Name when he turned 70 years old in 2011.

He and his wife, Julienne Spiertz, want to offer PhD students and post docs the chance to acquire foreign experience in crop science and agrobiology by providing funding for their study trips.

Discovery trip

Huub Spiertz says, “Young researchers must be given the chance to discover what the scientific world has to offer. They often have little opportunity to acquire new scientific contacts outside of Wageningen University. Especially at the beginning of their PhD, much attention is placed inwards while that is the ideal time to gain ideas from outside;  to test their ideas, to gain feedback and to exchange a train of thought. Attending congresses is usually done during the last phase of promotion but without a concrete goal, young researchers can get lost in the masses.”

New Contacts

New contacts and feedback are essential for the development of researchers. Huub Spiertz personally experienced this during his own promotion in the seventies. “I received little enthusiastic feedback back then for my research idea within my discipline. That is, not until I met renowned Australian scientist Dr. Lloyd Evans who was immediately enthusiastic. It was the impulse I needed otherwise I may have never started my thesis research.”

Spiertz counselled many PhD students as professor. His status as emeritus professor in 2006, however, was not a prelude to his retirement from his work and chair group. He wrote articles, judged manuscripts and gave students practical feedback. This way, he maintained weekly contact with young researchers.

The chair group has a large international network that PhD students and post docs can profit from. According to Spiertz, “I worked with wheat a lot. It’s a very international crop and it’s being worked on everywhere in the world. A study trip to a foreign university or institute allows researchers to stay in touch with new developments and innovations in their specific domains. Not everything happens at Wageningen, there is much on offer elsewhere too.”

Offering Chances

The Spiertzes have been active with the development of young people for a long time. Julienne Spiertz worked as a volunteer with refugees and they support the foundation for refugee students, UAF. Through the Rotary, Huub Spiertz was in touch with young talents during its education weekends. “It was fun to see the effects of such a weekend,” says Huub Spiertz. “I wanted the same for young agrobiologists.” He doesn’t see his contribution through this fund as charity though, “Our generation had the wind beneath our wings. But now that times are unsure and budgets are tight, young people must be given a chance. I see it as an investment: you know your goal and you know the people. A contribution from this fund gives agrobiologists and crop scientists extra opportunities and that contributes to the overall profession. For all who donate to charity, or request money at a party for charity, ask yourself whether or not to donate to a niche fund or to another one of UFW-funds!”

Global Food Shortage

Although now retired, the challenge faced by impending global food shortage is still very close to Spiertz’s heart. Spiertz believes that crop science can play a large role in finding solutions. “Wheat, rice and corn together provide for 70% of our energy demands. There are so many ways to produce these three crops more efficiently and sustainably. A lot of attention is given to genetics, but a lot can also be achieved if we change our approach to water usage and nutrients.”  Besides the quantities, the actual moment that water and nutrients are available is also important. “Good timing allows for the optimum growth and development of crops.”



The HJS Board of Trustees is comprised of:

  • Mrs Vivian Spiertz, family representative
  • Prof. Dr. Ir. P.C. Struik, professor
  • Dr. P. Reidsma, Plant Sciences Group Wageningen UR