Four newly appointed professors at Wageningen University & Research

Published on
May 1, 2019

The Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research has decided to appoint Luisa Trindade, Joris Sprakel and Laurens Klerkx as Professor holding a personal chair and Rob Alkemade as Professor by special appointment. The appointments became effective on the 1st of March.

Luisa Trindade

Luisa Trindade, Associate Professor (UHD) at Plant Breeding has been appointed Professor holding a personal chair.

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Prof. Luisa Trindade (Lisbon, 1971) studied Plant Breeding at the Technical University of Lisbon and graduated in 1995. In 1998 she was awarded her second Master’s (cum laude) by the Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal in Microbial Molecular Genetics. She then came to Wageningen, where she received her PhD in Plant Breeding in 2001. After a few post-doc positions, Luisa Trindade became the group leader of Biobased Economy and an assistant professor; six years later, she was appointed associate professor at Plant Breeding.

In her research in Wageningen Prof. Trindade concentrates on the breeding of crops for a circular, bio-based economy. Her most important expertise lies in plant cell walls and fibre plants such as Miscanthus, hemp and maize. She studies the development of crops that make more efficient use of natural resources such as water and nutrients and she strives to use the entire biomass of a crop for diverse applications. Designing such crops requires a knowledge of plant physiology and genetics, conversion technology, consumer preferences and other disciplines. In Wageningen she has found the right breeding ground to combine all these areas of expertise.

Laurens Klerkx

Laurens Klerkx has been appointed Professor holding a personal chair at the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group.


After studying Tropical Land Use (2002) at Wageningen University, Prof. Laurens Klerkx (Schijndel, 1977) began his academic career as a junior researcher at the Communication and Innovation Studies Group. He did his PhD research there (2008) and continued researching and teaching there as a post-doc and, a year later, as an assistant professor in the areas of agrarian innovation systems, networks, knowledge flows and intermediary organisations. He now has more than 90 peer-reviewed publications to his name and is active in several international advisory committees in his professional field.

In his present and future work Prof. Klerkx will focus on change agents in transition movements in agri-food, such as agro-ecology, circular agriculture and digital agriculture, the impact of digitalisation and robotisation on research and advisory organisations, as well as the international dimensions of research and innovation and the interaction between diverse innovation cultures, and forms of collaboration for sector-overarching innovations in the circular bioeconomy.

Joris Sprakel

Joris Sprakel, Associate Professor (UHD) at the chair group Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter, has been appointed Professor holding a personal chair.


Prof. dr. ir.Joris Sprakel (Oss, 1980) studied Food Technology in Wageningen. He did his PhD work at the chair group Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter and received his PhD cum laude in 2009. For this research he received the Houwink Polymer Award from the van de KNCV (Royal Netherlands Chemical Society)) and the Thesis Award from the Dutch Polymer Institute. Following this, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in Cambridge (USA) on a Rubicon subsidy he had received from NWO. In 2011 Sprakel returned to Wageningen with a VENI grant from NWO to start a group at the chair group Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter. In 2017 Sprakel received a VIDI grant from NWO. He has twice received the Excellent Education Award from the university.

Together with colleagues, Sprakel is creating a new research line in the upcoming professional field of mechanobiology, in which he is trying to develop innovative methods to determine how biological organisms measure, process and strengthen mechanical signals and transform them into biochemical or genetic processes.

Rob Alkemade

Rob Alkemade has been appointed Professor by special appointment Global Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services at the chair group Environmental Systems Analysis of Prof. Rik Leemans. The special appointment is financed by the PBL (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency) and is part of the chair group Environmental Systems Analysis led by Prof. Leemans.


In his position at Wageningen University & Research Prof. Alkemade will concentrate on researching the influence of the management of ecosystems and landscapes on biodiversity and ecosystem services and how that management further influences regional and global effects on, among other things, nature, climate and the urban environment. These results will make it possible to compare the consequences of different management options. The knowledge of why certain choices are made can help to develop effective management strategies and policy scenarios.