The Leniger Bruin Kühn Fund promotes excellent education, innovative
research, and support to students and professionals in food technology and
food safety at Wageningen University & Research.
for postgraduate researchers and (associate) professors from Latin America
in food technology or food safety. The goal is to strengthen local
institutes of knowledge and to educate teachers. Furthermore, the fund
wants to make sabbaticals available to internationally renowned
researchers in food technology or food safety.
students of the masters Food Technology or Food Safety who lack sufficient
study financing or those who are threatened by or have accrued debt due to
circumstances beyond their influence.
Series, especially of those people from outside the ‘food world’ as a
source of inspiration for food technology.
‘I wanted to do something for the university in return. I was able to study here thanks to a grant. We still needed a special fund for innovations in food technology. Professor Leniger is the founding father of this field in the Netherlands, and he meant an awful lot to me he personally.’
Four years ago, Solke Bruin, who graduated in Wageningen in 1965 and was conferred with a PhD in process technology four years later, took the first steps towards setting up a named fund.
‘When I started at university in 1958, my father had just lost his job in Indonesia and was unable to finance me in full. Fortunately, the Government gave me grant for the duration of my studies.
The fact that I rowed for WSR Argo at competition level and spent a year in the senate of WSV Ceres did nothing to affect this. So I wanted to do something in return for students who get into financial problems during their studies through no fault of their own.’
Bruin is no stranger to university education. He spent a few years working as a professor in Wageningen before moving to Unilever in 1980. In 2001, he returned to teaching for five years, this time as a professor occupying an endowed chair at TU Eindhoven. ´My second motive was that I wanted to promote cooperation between the various chair groups in the area of food technology and food safety. Most pioneering research is carried out on the interface of disciplines´, he knows from experience.
It was no surprise that Bruin named the fund after Professor Leniger, the man who had used his background in agricultural technology to develop the field of food technology in the Netherlands. ´He was a charming, polite man, who could make razor-sharp analyses of situations. He had a shy nature, and I never saw him angry. But he was very sure of himself´, continues Bruin. Leniger was a father figure to Bruin. ´Like me, he had spent time in a Japanese concentration camp in Indonesia during the Second World War. Leniger was posted to Java for technological research into tea. I was born in Sumatra in 1940, where my father managed an oil palm plantation.´ Leniger encouraged him during his studies, and Bruin later followed in his footsteps when Leniger was made Rector Magnificus of the former Agricultural College.
This year, Bruin´s wife Cecilia Kühn added her support to the fund. She is a food technician, who changed track to become a self-employed innovation expert after spending many years working as a product developer for various companies. ´I help industrial parties to find technology for innovations.´ She also gives regular guest lectures at Wageningen University. ´I had every confidence in the way the WUF was organising the fund´, said Kühn about her step. ´I could see that it was working. I too have studied in several countries and received various different grants.’
Kühn's roots are in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and she has studied in Canada, the United States and Germany. ´I come from a third-world country and have been very lucky, capitalising on every opportunity I was given. I received various grants during my studies, which is why I am keen to contribute towards people with talent.´ It is due to Kühn´s influence that the fund focuses special attention on Latin-American researchers.
´Ultimately, we would like the fund to be used to promote and support innovation and excellence. For example, colloquium series that encourage students to look beyond the boundaries of their field, and sabbaticals for researchers, assistant professors and professors; these are ways of allowing students and lecturers to develop their potential. What is more, training lecturers has a knock-on effect: by helping a lecturer, you are also helping large numbers of students´, says Kühn.
Solke Bruin and Cecilia Kühn hope that the Leniger Bruin Kühn Fund will stimulate others to leave their mark on the field. The activities sponsored by the Fund will be financed from the yields on the capital. The greater the yields, the larger the number of activities that will receive backing. Bruin: ´The chair groups must put forward plans, and we will provide funding where it is most needed.’
The first goal is to raise funds to pay for a visiting professor of food technology. 'It would be wonderful if we could achieve this together.’