Lotte came to Wageningen for her bachelor’s, continued her master’s at Wageningen University & Research and even her PhD. Even though she travelled a lot during her studies, Lotte found her place in Wageningen. Watch the video to get a glimpse of a day in the life of her work. Or read the full story below.
How does your work week look like? "In the Netherlands, I am mostly in meetings or at work behind my desk. I write articles and protocols, read the literature, analyse data, supervise students, discuss with project partners, and drink coffee with colleagues.
When I am in the field, the days look totally different. For my PhD I was collecting a lot of samples and I did many measurements, together with local staff and farmers. That was hot and sweaty work."
"I also spent a lot of time discussing with farmers and networking with governments, NGOs, companies, extension agents. We tried to share our knowledge as much as possible, and to work together so that our research on oil palm would benefit the farmers.
Sometimes I also give trainings to farmers or others on how to grow oil palm. This is nice, because it is an opportunity to share what I have learned, but also to get feedback on what I think I know, and learn from the farmers and the other people who work in the field."
"Ah, and of course traveling takes a large part of my time. Especially in the rainy season in the field…"
Could you give a short introduction of what you studied? "During my studies I had the opportunity to work in Zimbabwe and Switzerland, and after graduating I travelled in South America and Canada. In 2013 I continued with a PhD in the Plant Production Systems group about smallholder oil palm plantations in Indonesia. Together with Ken Giller, Maja Slingerland, and Meine van Noordwijk.
And what is your current job? "Currently I am doing a four-year Postdoc on cocoa nutrition. We are part of a big consortium with companies and research institutes from all over the world (but with a focus in West-Africa) and we are trying to improve cocoa productivity through Integrated Soil Fertility Management.
My job is to write protocols for our long-term trials, to manage and analyse the data, and to supervise some of the MSc and PhD students in the project."
What are your future goals? "In the future, I can see myself in many different roles: at university as a researcher; in an NGO; in a research institute; or working for a company as sustainability manager or something similar. But I would like to keep working on my favourite topic: smallholder production of tropical perennial crops such as oil palm and cocoa."
And last could you tell how your time at WUR helped you to get where you are now? Also, what is your advice to current students? "During my studies and my research I learned to think critically and deeply about agriculture, food, the environment, and many related aspects. I think these are central topics to our lives and our planet, so I really feel that the Wageningen focus is an important one, which helps students to become scientists and professionals that have something important to contribute.
I can recommend to everyone who considers coming to Wageningen: come on over and join for an open day, and for sure you will be inspired."