The LEB Foundation stimulates environmental sciences and developments in agriculture by financing the activities of students and young researchers active in agricultural research and environmental sciences at Wageningen University & Research (WUR).
The foundation ‘Fund Agricultural Export Bureau 1916-1918’ was created on 15 June 1918 with the goal ‘to promote agricultural sciences and all related trade in its entirety.’
The past years, the LEB Fund accepted an average of 60 requests per year. These varied from study trip financing for congress participation to organising scientific meetings/courses in the Netherlands. This is a substantial contribution for the development and international exposure of our young scientists.
Examples of Activities
- give a presentation at an international congress
- study trips by groups of PhD students
- specialistic training abroad
- PhD students of WUR
- Junior scientists without permanent employment and affiliated to WUR
- Researchers at WUR from developing countries with limited financial support
Over the past 100 years, the LEB Foundation has spent around two million euros on Wageningen research and PhD candidates’ study trips. Time for a modest celebration, in the shape of a photograph and a new website.
The LEB Foundation board. © Guy Ackermans
Not many people know of the LEB Foundation, which was named after the Landbouw Export Bureau (Agricultural Export Office) that was established by the Netherlands during World War I to promote trade with the neighbouring countries during the war. When the treaties were signed in 1918, there was a sum of 280 thousand guilders still in the LEB Foundation. This money has produced such revenue that Wageningen researchers still benefit from it.
Each year, the LEB Foundation awards funding to about sixty applications from WUR PhD candidates, postdocs and international visiting staff members; the funds are to be spent on a study trip or conference abroad. They receive a maximum of 750 euros to cover travel and accommodation costs, says Wim Heijman, professor of Regional Economics and both secretary and treasurer of the foundation. He manages the foundation’s capital – about two million euros, which has an annual return of around 60,000 euros.
Meteorologist Imme Benedict was one of the fortunate ones last year. She wanted to participate in a summer school in Switzerland on the topic of creating climate models. ‘An expensive assembly’, the PhD candidate says, ‘but on the exact topic of my field, with many prominent names whose articles I had read.’ Luckily, the LEB Foundation covered half the costs. ‘Amazing; for an entire week, you speak with interesting people. Now, I am more aware of the state of the art in my field.’
The LEB Foundation used to finance Wageningen research as well. Projects that had been funded include archaeological research into the Groninger and Frisian mounds, a quadripartite book on Javanese butterflies, studies into the relation between groundwater level and crop yield, and research into ways to increase milk production of Frisian cattle. The foundation ceased this research funding.
The LEB Foundation board consists of five Wageninger professors. Besides Heijman, these are Ivonne Rietjens (chair), Marcel Dicke, Imke de Boer and Remko Uijlenhoet. The foundation only participates in co-financing, the chair group has to contribute the other fifty percent. ‘Sometimes, young people need a helping hand to deliver that research performance’, Heijman says. ‘We have therefore chosen to provide small grants to a large number of young researchers.’
In 2015, environmental technologist Wei-Shan Chen received a grant to present his research at a large conference in Chile on wastewater treatment techniques. The PhD candidate had adapted an existing treatment to achieve better results. ‘It was groundbreaking, but nobody believed it yet.’ During the conference, he made important connections with whom he now collaborates to transform urban waste into useful resources for agriculture and industry.
To celebrate its centenary, the board of the LEB Foundation had a photograph taken. Furthermore, the LEB board also presented the new website. On this website, students and PhDs explain what they did with the contribution from the LEB Foundation, and a world map shows which places the young researchers have visited. A bit of publicity is always welcome, says Heijman. ‘We receive just the right amount of applications; we rarely have to disappoint people.’ The applications are assessed by the University Fund Wageningen.
The new website is under construction.
Source article: Resource
Ir. Soutrik Basu was given the opportunity to present his paper at the International Conference on Innovations in Extension and Advisory Services in Nairobi, Kenya, held from 15-18 November 2011. Soutrik is a PhD Researcher Critical Technology at WUR.
“I had the opportunity to present my paper during the international conference on Innovations in Extension and Advisory Services in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2011. I felt a great sense of recognition for my work by being able to share my research at this international platform. During the conference, I was also able to meet excellent scientists, researchers, policymakers, journalists and NGO-staff who were working on similar themes. These meetings made a strong impression on me.
It was an interesting experience to share my presentation; while people posed critical questions they also showed signs of appreciation. This motivated me to conduct my research even better in the future. Finally, I visited different Kenyan villages which gave the whole experience an extra dimension.
I am very grateful to the LEB Foundation for its support. From experience, I know that the LEB Foundation efforts give young researchers a great impulse to present their research at an international level. This wonderful experience, being able to visit and participate at a conference, would have been impossible without funding from the LEB Foundation.”
In 2017, 58 applications were received, one of which was rejected. The majority of applicants fell into category A: participation in scientific meetings (congress, symposium, workshop) abroad where the applicant provides an oral or poster presentation. In total, almost € 52,000 in grants were awarded.
Members of the board are appointed for five years. The board members are volunteers and receive no financial compensation. The current board exists of:
- Prof. Dr. Ir. Ivonne Rietjens, chair
- Prof. Dr. Wim Heijman, treasurer/secretary
- prof. dr. Marcel Dicke
- prof. dr. ir.Imke de Boer
- prof. dr. ir. Remko Uijlenhoet
Treasurer: Mr. Loek Burm