Two very talented female Wageningen University (WU) PhD candidates Katherine Barragán-Fonseca and Barbara Terlouw were awarded with a Storm-van der Chijs Stipend on 24 February 2022. After a short introduction by Storm-van der Chijs Fund chair Dr Margreet van der Burg, it was the honour to our Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol to hand over the certificate and flowers. The two-yearly awarding ceremony was combined with the awarding of Gender+-SMART Awards at the end of the workshop ‘Advancing Gender+ Talent’.
This round 19 candidates were nominated by WU professors of all science groups. Together, they represented a wide range of Science Groups, nationalities, subjects, and research approaches. Two stipends of 1,500 euro are made available to underline the Fund’s aim to encourage women to pursue an academic career. The stipends can be used for visiting an academic conference or institute abroad until one year after graduation.
Very impressed about their talent were the jury of Academic Board members Prof.dr. Marielos Peña Claros, Forest Ecology and Forest Management, Prof.dr.ir Marcel Zwietering, Food Microbiology, and Prof.dr. Simon Bush, Environmental Policy. Despite how difficult it was, they came to a clear ranking considering the four criteria: richness in initiative, interdisciplinarity, international embeddedness, and interlinking science and society. Katherine Barragán-Fonseca and Barbara Terlouw were both definitely best ranked.
Katherine Barragán-Fonseca from Colombia was praised for her strong interdisciplinary approach (microbiology, agronomy, plant and insect biology, ecology and sociology). The jury was impressed by the integrated nature of her natural science work in a complex social setting in Colombia, and by its social and ecological potential to both ‘zero hunger’ and a circular economy.
She studies how side-streams from the production of insects as food and feed can be used as soil amendment to improve plant growth and resilience against insect pests and interactions with pollinators. In her vision this will empower smallholder farmers, especially in Colombia. By producing insects as novel protein source plus a valuable side stream as crop health promotor, she envisions that ex-combatants can gain a new role in society which promotes peace in a conflict-torn country like Colombia. Katherine has been nominated by Prof.dr. Marcel Dicke, Entomology.
Barbara Terlouw was congratulated with the marked quality of her work – including a publication in Nature Reviews Microbiology. The jury applauded the internationally networked nature of her work and her apparent vision for the field of bioinformatics. They highly appreciated the way she clearly combines different research fields (computer science, organic chemistry and microbiology) in new ways, she engages in bridging and advancing her research fields, and presents herself as a good science communicator who is able to visually and verbally explain complicated science in an understandable and compelling way. Barbara was nominated by Prof. dr.ir. Dick de Ridder, Bioinformatics.
The awarding was combined with the Gender+-SMART Awarding at the end of the workshop ‘Advancing Gender+ Talent: Finding Answers and Recommendations Together’ that was held online.