In Memoriam: Dr. Jeanne Dijkstra

December 14, 2023

Recently we received the sad news that on 14th November 2023, our former colleague dr Jeanne Dijkstra has passed away at the age of 93.

Jeanne Dijkstra was born in Amsterdam where she studied Biology at the University of Amsterdam. After her graduation she was hired in 1957 by prof Thung at the “Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen” in those days, to work as a plant virologist in the first newly founded Virology chair group of the world. There she started with a PhD study on “The early events of tobacco mosaic virus infection in Nicotiana glutinosa”. Jeanne graduated in 1964 at the University of Amsterdam under the promotorship of prof van der Want, who had just started to lead the young chair group of Virology in Wageningen, after prof Thung had died at an early age. After Jeanne’s successful thesis defense, she continued her scientific career in plant virology, first under prof van der Want and later under Prof Goldbach. As one of the permanent staff members, she has helped building and strengthening the expertise in plant virology in Wageningen and contributed to the chair-groups’ worldwide recognition. From the social point of view, Jeanne will be remembered by her long poems at Saint Nicholas day. Every year she managed to come up with a very nice poem during which she reflected on virology achievements and looked at future challenges, but also containing jokes, welcoming and farewells of researchers, and a few critical comments, to which people were always looking out for. During her early career, Jeanne became acquainted with dr. Narandra Singh Chauhan, with whom she married and got one daughter. With both having a research career, they maintained living and working in their own home country, Jeanne in the Netherlands and Narandra in India, but each year they visited each other to spend time together. After her retirement in the midst of the 90’s of the past century, she moved to India to be together with Narandra in Mysore. After he passed away Jeanne stayed in Mysore to be close to her daughter, who meanwhile also had moved to India and started to have her own family there as well. Every year Jeanne kept coming back to stay in Wageningen for several months to be close and maintain her friendship with her Dutch friends.

Although Jeanne stopped working in science soon after her retirement, she will be missed and remembered as one of the last of Mohicans from the early days of the virology chair group. Our support especially goes to her daughter Sarala and Raju, and their children Shalini and Sharendra.

Monique van Oers, René van der Vlugt and Richard Kormelink.