Marina van Damme Fund awards two Wageningen grants to female engineers

Published on
November 18, 2020

For the third time, the Marina van Damme Fund has awarded grants to Wageningen alumni. Similar to last year, it was decided to award two full grants instead of one. Iris van der Meer and Iris van ’t Erve both receive a grant of 9000 euros. These grants are intended for the extension or broadening of the career of female engineers or for an international orientation in the form of a study, internship or project. The grants were awarded on November 17 during an online gathering via MS Teams.

Dr. ir. Margrethe Jonkman, Corporate Director R&D FrieslandCampina, WUR-alumna and member of the Wageningen Ambassadors, was a first-time jury member for the Marina van Damme grant this year and had the honour of awarding the grants.  

Iris van der Meer

The jury was impressed by Iris van der Meer because of her enthousiasm and experience up to this point. After 6 months as a conservationist at WWF Zambia, she was already promoted to Wildlife Programme Coordinator. Van der Meer is now the manager of a team of three and is ready for another step in her personal and professional development that will enable her to make an even greater contribution to a sustainable future. The jury is confident that Van der Meer will be able to contribute to some of the major global issues of this time by executing her plan.

With the support of the Marina van Damme grant, Iris can finance the master in Conservation Leadership at the Cambridge University, which she started in October of 2020 and consists of two parts: with lectures, debates, group work, individual presentations, reporting and field visits in England from October to March, and an internship / placement from April.

Iris van ’t Erve

The second grant winner, Iris van ‘t Erve, impressed the jury with her ambition to try and change how cancer patients are treated. Cancer drugs often have unpleasant side effects and are expensive, which is why it is important to estimate which patient will benefit from which treatment, in other words: tailor-made therapy. However, this is difficult as tumour tissue, which is generally used to base the estimate upon, is not always available. With her doctoral research called “Better treatment of colon cancer patients with metastases thanks to tailor-made therapy through analysis of circulating tumor DNA in blood", Iris plans to change that.

With the Marina van Damme grant, Iris will be able to take a dedicated course specific to her field of research: ‘Advanced Sequencing Technologies & Bioinformatics Analysis’ at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. This course is specifically aimed at the data analysis and bioinformatics of Next Generation Sequencing technologies with a medical application. The course can make a valuable contribution to both Iris’ career and to get more research off the ground. The jury believes that linking biological knowledge to bioinformatics knowledge is crucial, and therefore Iris van ‘t Erve receives the Marina van Damme grant 2020.

Marina van Damme Fund

The Marina van Damme Fund was founded by its namesake, who studied in Delft and obtained her PhD in Twente and subsequently made a career at Akzo and the WRR. With the fund, she wants to support female engineers and PhDs who have several years of work experience and who want to develop further. In 2003 she instituted the annual Marina van Damme grant at the universities of Twente and Delft. In 2010, Eindhoven University of Technology was added. With the creation of the 4TU Federation, she has also added Wageningen to this series. The first Wageningen Marina van Damme grant was awarded in 2018.

University Fund Wageningen

The Marina van Damme Fund is the 27th registered fund at University Fund Wageningen (UFW). UFW connects people, ideas and funds to contribute to the growth and prosperity of the university. That is why the fund invests in strengthening the contacts between WUR and its alumni, the business community and relevant social organizations. UFW rewards and stimulates excellent Wageningen education and research with various prizes.