Looking back on the NLAS After summer event

September 26, 2022

With summer still fresh in the memory and autumn approaching, the Next Level Animal Sciences Programme (NLAS) presented itself on Monday 19 September 2022. More than a hundred animal sciences researchers joined the event in the Zodiac building on Wageningen Campus. The event was a mix of inspiring pitches and workshops, followed by fruitful conversations at the drinks table.

Ernst van den Ende, General Director of the Animal Sciences Group since January 2022, opened the NLAS After summer event. “The role of animals in food production, ecology and society is changing, and we want to be a world leader in research and education on animal sciences. That’s why our research and education need to adapt”, Van den Ende said, introducing the Next Level Animal Sciences innovation programme. “We started this programme two years ago, because we believe it is crucial for our future.” Because the focus is on developing new tools and methods to study animals in the next decade, Van den Ende emphasised that NLAS is relevant for every researcher within the Animal Sciences Group. The aim of the event was therefore to share knowledge and encourage collaboration.

Inspiring pitches and workshops

To learn about all the new tools and methods the NLAS programme is working on, 21 NLAS researchers held a 3-minute pitch explaining what they do and how that can be useful for other researchers. The event continued with two rounds of workshops in which participants could see innovations, experience how a particular method works, and join in discussions about the possibilities for their own research. Active working methods and in-depth presentations provided insights into agent-based models, microsensors, software sensing, organoids in fundamental and applied research and machine learning tools. The workshops helped to discover more links between different studies within the field of animal sciences.

New connections

As one participant said during the wrap up: “I saw some overlapping projects, so it might be interesting to contact those people.” Others had already approached someone to explore collaboration opportunities. “I have made a connection related to wildlife tracking and edge computing. I am very interested in that”, said one of them.

Van den Ende and the NLAS programme leaders hope to maintain the 'after summer vibe' by organising more chill meetings focusing on making warm connections. The resulting collaborations will help animal research to move forward to meet the significant challenges we face in society regarding animals.

About the NLAS programme

All projects belong to one of the three NLAS research lines: sensor technology, complex cell systems and data and models. By developing innovative sensor technology, for example, new possibilities open up to monitor the health and welfare of animals continuously and in real-time. Complex cell systems (miniature versions of animal tissues) allow scientists to refine their research without using invasive measuring methods and animal experiments. The third line, innovative IT-solutions, helps researchers transfer the ever-increasing amount of data into useful information about the animal behaviour, health and welfare.