Outstanding Alumnus Award

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 career and made a significant contribution to the domain ‘For quality of Life’. The Outstanding Alumnus Award was first awarded during the 87th Dies Natalis of Wageningen University & Research in 2005.

The Outstanding Alumnus Award of 2019 was awarded during the Opening of the Academic Year on 2 september to Dr. Charudutt Mishra.


      Next to a judicium and a certificate, the prize winners also receive a small sculpture called 'Freedom', made by sculptor Marian Spekreijse.

      Outstanding Alumnus Award 2019

      For his remarkable contribution with transdisciplinary research on community-based conservation with special attention to the snow leopard in Asia, Dr Charudutt Mishra has received the Outstanding Alumnus Award 2019. The award, initiated by University Fund Wageningen, was presented to Dr Mishra on Monday 2 September at the Opening of the Academic Year of Wageningen University & Research. Next to a jury report and a certificate, the prize winner received the sculpture 'Freedom'.

      Dr Charudutt Mishra, or Charu as he is popularly known, is the Science and Conservation Director of the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT), responsible for guiding its international research and conservation programmes. Headquartered in Seattle, SLT is the largest and oldest organisation dedicated to promoting ecosystem and wildlife conservation across the high mountains of South and Central Asia, with the endangered snow leopard as the flagship.

      Dr. Mishra obtained his PhD at Wageningen University & Research in 2001 in Ecology and Natural Resource Conservation. He has since published more than ninety peer reviewed research papers, book chapters, and technical reports. His book focuses on the Principles and practice of community-based conservation, and has been adapted into a training programme for conservation practitioners. In his work Dr. Mishra combines several scientific disciplines. He is active in many countries in Central Asia and bridges social, cultural and religious differences with ease. Dr Charudutt Mishra was nominated by professor of Resource Ecology at Wageningen University & Research, Prof. Herbert Prins.

      His work has involved setting up community-based wildlife conservation and conflict-resolution programs, conducting research and exploration, teaching and guiding PhD and MSc students, and working with governments to set up wildlife reserves, formulating conservation policy, and encouraging international cooperation for conservation. He has been closely involved in initiating and running a high-level inter-governmental alliance on snow leopard conservation led by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, involving all twelve snow leopard range countries.

      Foto website.PNG

      Jury report

      “Dr. Mishra has dedicated his academic life to extend conservation science for societal welfare, on-ground conservation, and policy”, the jury of the University Fund Wageningen states in its report. “Unhindered by difficult circumstances, enthusiastic and with deep conviction, Dr Mishra is able to work with people of various nationalities, religions, and cultures together on nature conservation. He moves around effortlessly on both the level of local villages and the level of governors or even state leaders, for his two goals: sustainable conservation of threatened species and economic improvement of the marginal agro-pastoral population of the high mountains of South and Central Asia.

      Dr Mishra has become an authority on community conservation in Asia and has been able to bring his insights into practice in a complicated political climate. Therefore, University Fund Wageningen has decided to present the “Outstanding Alumnus Award” to Dr Mishra.”

      Every three years,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 career and made a significant contribution to the domain ‘For quality of Life’. The Outstanding Alumnus Award was first awarded in 2005.

      Source: Press release WUR 2 september 2019.


      The jury for the Outstanding Alumnus Award 2019 consisted of:

      • Ir. Jan Karel Mak, CEO and Chair of the Executive Board of Deerns Group BV, Chair of University Fund Wageningen
      • Prof. dr. ir. Wouter Hendriks, Dean of Research and Professor at Department of Animal Sciences at Wageningen University & Research
      • Dr. ir. Niels Louwaars, Managing Director Plantum NL, former winner Outstanding Alumnus Award 2016

      In november 2019, Dr Mishra was announced as the new Executive Director of The Snow Leopard Trust. Read the full article here.

      Outstanding Alumnus Award 2016

      Niels Louwaars

      In 2016, 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."

      Dr. ir. Niels Louwaars at the celebration of the Dies Natalis
      Dr. ir. Niels Louwaars at the celebration of the Dies Natalis

      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.

      Dr. ir. Niels Louwaars in Wageningen World

      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 behald of the Wageningen Ambassadors

      Prof. dr. ir. Arthur Mol, on behalf of Wageningen Unversity & Research and University Fund Wageningen

      Dr. ir. Jannemarie de Jonge, on behalf of KLV

      Outstanding Alumnus Award 2013

      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.

      Prof.dr.ir. Louise O. Fresco receives the Outstanding Alumnus Award
      Prof.dr.ir. Louise O. Fresco receives the Outstanding Alumnus Award

      Outstanding Alumnus Award 2009

      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 Leeuwen

      Floor 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-Tessema

      The 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.
      Prof.dr.ir F.E. van Leeuwen
      Prof.dr.ir F.E. van Leeuwen
      Ir. F.M. Westerman
      Ir. F.M. Westerman
      Dr. A. Bekele-Tessema
      Dr. A. Bekele-Tessema

      Outstanding Alumnus Award 2005

      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.

      Dr. P. Kibwika
      Dr. P. Kibwika