Alumnibijeenkomst

Wageningen Alumni Event California USA, Monday 28 November 2016

On November 28th, an animated lunch seminar took place at UC Davis. The meeting was attended by Wageningen alumni, scientists from UC Davis and a Dutch delegation from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Dean Helene Dillard of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and Dutch Minister of Agriculture Martijn van Dam welcomed the participants. Wageningen scientist Niels Verhulst presented on 2 research projects of the group of entomologist Willem Takken.

Organisator University Fund Wageningen
Datum

ma 28 november 2016 tot vr 2 december 2016 11:30

Locatie AGR Hall at the Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center

Informal network for Wageningen alumni in the USA
University Fund Wageningen is exploring the possibility of setting up an informal network for WUR alumni living in the United States of America. The alumni event at UC Davis was an excellent first opportunity to assess the interest in such an informal network. We are curious to know how you think about this initiative.

Please let us know:

  • If you are based in or around UC Davis and are interested to be added to the UC Davis mailing-list
  • In case you have suggestions for alumni events in California and would like to take on an active role in organizing them
  • If you have suggestions that might help Niels Verhulst to connect with potential donors.

Event summary (with presentation and video) and new research

On November 28th, an animated lunch seminar took place at UC Davis. The meeting was attended by  Wageningen alumni, scientists from UC Davis and a Dutch delegation from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Dean Helene Dillard of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and Dutch Minister of Agriculture Martijn van Dam welcomed the participants. Wageningen scientist Niels Verhulst presented on 2 research projects of the group of entomologist Willem Takken.

The first project – Solarmal – just had its results published in The Lancet. The Solarmal project has been very successful in reducing malaria incidence by 30% at Kenia’s Rusinga island, using an odour baited mosquito trap. The number of malaria mosquitos was reduced with 70%. By connecting the trap to a small solar panel that also charged mobile phones and provided electricity for light, the uptake of the trap was very high. The success of this project was based on the integration of technical (the trap) and social innovation (ensuring there was a direct benefit in the form of electricity).

The second part of Niels’ presentation focused on new research that has the potential to greatly reduce the risk of large outbreaks of infectious diseases. Natural pandemics represent a huge risk to our world’s population. Globalization, population growth and climate change all contribute to a sharp increase in infectious diseases, and that requires effective solutions and early detection. Currently there is no method to detect disease outbreaks at an early stage. That means that action is only taken when a significant number of people have already caught the disease and an epidemic is well underway. The previous Ebola outbreak already killed thousands of chimpanzees before arriving in humans. The new methodology provides a possible way to detect outbreaks like Ebola and Zika, even before they are transmitted to humans.

The presentation was followed by a lively Q&A session, after which the meeting continued with only Wageningen alumni and students. They discussed their interest and modes for an alumni network in California. Besides the interest for a California alumni chapter, the research project of Niels Verhulst was discussed. Niels is looking for funds for his research on an early warning system for outbreaks of infectious diseases.

The meeting was co-organized with UC Davis and the Dutch consulate in San Francisco.

Programme

Mosquitoes: Kill them! Or use them?
Wageningen researchers investigated why some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others. This led to the development of a mosquito lure that is used in traps in Kenya and that can lower mosquito populations by more than 70% and reduce malaria transmission significantly. They will now test this system for mosquitoes that can transmit Zika or Dengue. Finally, they aim to develop an early warning system for viruses by using mosquitoes as ‘syringes’, that take blood samples from e.g. wildlife or people. This system would help to prevent large scale outbreaks of e.g. Ebola, SARS, Chikungunya and Zika.

11:30 - 12:00 p.m. Arrival
12:05 - 12:40 p.m. Welcome and Presentation
12:40 - 14:00 p.m. Question and Answer session, lunch
14:00 - 15:00 p.m. Network Meeting Wageningen Alumni

Speaker dr. ir. Niels Verhulst

Dr. ir. Niels Verhulst
Click here to see dr. ir. Niels Verhulst's LinkedIn prof
ile.

Dutch Minister of Agriculture and Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Science of UC Davis
Helene R. Dillard
was appointed dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis in January 2014. Her goal is to build uponthe strengths of the college in research, teaching, extension and outreach, and maintain strong relationships with the broad range of stakeholders in California, nationally and globally. In addition to her resposibilities as dean, she has programmatic responsibilities for the college's Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension.

Dutch Minister of Agriculture
Martijn van Dam
worked briefly for Philips Lighting BV, leaving on 30 January 2003 when he was elected to the House of Representatives. He served as a member of the House for the Labour Party (PvdA) until 3 November 2015. The issues he covered included economic affairs, integration, media and foreign policy. From November 2012, he also served as deputy leader of the party. On 3 November 2015, Martijn van Dam was appointed Minister for Agriculture in the Rutte-Asscher government.