The aim of the Marina van Damme Fund is to support talented female WUR alumni in a next step or turn in their careers. The grant consists of an amount of 9,000 euros and is intended for the extension or broadening of knowledge or for an international orientation in the form of a study, internship or project. The Marina van Damme Fund is the 29th named fund that is registered at UFW.
Are you a talented WUR-Alumna who wants to extend or broaden her career? Check the details and criteria and nominate now!
Who is eligible for the grant?
Talented female alumni graduated and/or promoted from Wageningen University & Research. The women generally spend the grant on additional university education in addition to their work in e.g. marketing, finance or management. Or they opt for a practical additional study at higher professional education level or a guest employment at a renowned foreign university.
The Marina van Damme grant 2020 was presented on Tuesday 17 November during an online ceremony via MS Teams. More than 30 people were present for the ceremony. Curious about the lucky winners? Read more below.
For the third time, the Marina van Damme Fund has awarded grants to Wageningen alumni. Similar to last year, it was decided to award two full grants instead of one. Iris van der Meer and Iris van ’t Erve both receive a grant of 9000 euros. The grants were awarded on November 17 during an online gathering via MS Teams.
Iris van der Meer
The jury was impressed by Iris van der Meer because of her enthousiasm and experience up to this point. After 6 months as a conservationist at WWF Zambia, she was already promoted to Wildlife Programme Coordinator. Van der Meer is now the manager of a team of three and is ready for another step in her personal and professional development that will enable her to make an even greater contribution to a sustainable future. The jury is confident that Van der Meer will be able to contribute to some of the major global issues of this time by executing her plan.
With the support of the Marina van Damme grant, Iris can finance the master in Conservation Leadership at the Cambridge University, which she started in October of 2020 and consists of two parts: with lectures, debates, group work, individual presentations, reporting and field visits in England from October to March, and an internship / placement from April.
Iris van ’t Erve
The second grant winner, Iris van ‘t Erve, impressed the jury with her ambition to try and change how cancer patients are treated. Cancer drugs often have unpleasant side effects and are expensive, which is why it is important to estimate which patient will benefit from which treatment, in other words: tailor-made therapy. However, this is difficult as tumour tissue, which is generally used to base the estimate upon, is not always available. With her doctoral research called “Better treatment of colon cancer patients with metastases thanks to tailor-made therapy through analysis of circulating tumor DNA in blood", Iris plans to change that.
With the Marina van Damme grant, Iris will be able to take a dedicated course specific to her field of research: ‘Advanced Sequencing Technologies & Bioinformatics Analysis’ at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. This course is specifically aimed at the data analysis and bioinformatics of Next Generation Sequencing technologies with a medical application. The course can make a valuable contribution to both Iris’ career and to get more research off the ground. The jury believes that linking biological knowledge to bioinformatics knowledge is crucial, and therefore Iris van ‘t Erve receives the Marina van Damme grant 2020.
The jury for the fund in 2020 consisted of six members.
Margrethe Jonkman, Corporate Director R&D FrieslandCampina
Joyce Kuiken, member of the Marina van Damme Netwerk
Tinka Murk, professor Marine Animal Ecology at WUR
Julia Samson, first winner of the Marina van Damme grant Wageningen 2018
Gitte Schober, coordinator Center of Entrepreneurship, StartLife
Richard Visser, WUR professor and head of Plant Breeding
Read the news article here.
Marina van Damme Fund Wageningen has awarded three grants
The quality of the nominations for the Marina van Damme Fund was so high this year, that the fund decided to award not one, but three grants. Chantal Vogels and Judith Houtman each received a full grant worth €9000, while Nienke van Staaveren received an incentive prize of €2500.
Marina van Damme Fund grants are intended to deepen or broaden the careers of female engineers through the acquisition of knowledge and/or international experience in the form of a research study or project. The grants were awarded on 26 November during the first Feminer dinner in Wageningen.
Role model for women
According to the jury, winner Chantal Vogels is a role model for women who aspire to a career in science with her ambition to establish a special expertise network to further the study of virus-transmitted diseases.
The Marina van Damme grant will enable her to follow two personal training courses focussing on the manipulation of viruses and the analysis of the data from this process. These new insights may lead to new breakthroughs in the study of the evolution of mosquito-borne viruses.
Expertise in biochemistry
The jury was also impressed by Judith Houtman’s expertise in biochemistry and neurodegeneration and her dedication to improving understanding of neurodegenerative diseases through the study of the disease as a system.
The Marina van Damme grant will allow her to follow workshops to learn skills in bioinformatics and data analysis sequencing, and also to visit the Fred Cage Lab of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, where she can apply these skills in her own research project.
Incentive prize for animal welfare
The recipient of the incentive prize, Nienke van Staaveren, has a Master’s degree in Animal Sciences and is currently working as a postdoc at the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare of the University of Guelph in Canada. In September of this year she started as a project manager with the Genomic Applications Partnership Program.
Nienke will use her Marina van Damme grant to follow training courses that will help her lead the project team and make lasting and meaningful contributions to projects to improve animal welfare.
Find the news article here.
Dr. ir. Julia E. Samson is the very first winner of the Marina van Damme grant of the Marina van Damme Fund in Wageningen. With the help of this 9,000 euro grant Julia Samson can continue her scientific career as a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Collective Behaviour at the Max Planck Institute in Konstanz. In this postdoctoral project she wants to further develop new challenging skills, both in modelling of collective behaviour as well as in neurobiology. However, Julia has to acquire the expertise in neurophysiological techniques, outside of this department and in the USA. The Marina van Damme grant will be used to follow those short studies in neurobiology.
Prof. Tinka Murk, professor Ecology of Marine Animals, handed out the grant at the Opening of the Academic Year 2018 - 2019. She spoke about the high scientific and interdisciplinairy level of Julia's work, not only during her studies at Wageningen University & Research, but also with regard to her PhD at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the USA, where she, again, combined sea research with technical sciences.
The jury was impressed by the quality of the nominations, but voted unanimously for Julia Samson’s application. Her work as well as successfully combining marine biological with specialised technical sciences were highly scored. As well as her use of the grant, adding the extra skills to her already impressive skill set will make Julia a strong candidate for faculty positions in several types of research groups, including fundamental, medical and more applied or corporate environments.
Marina van Damme studied in Delft, obtained her PhD in Twente and made a career at the Koninklijke Zoutfabriek, now Akzo. At the end of her career, she was a member of the Scientific Council for Government Policy and held various other advisory positions.
'When I started studying in 1947, only 1 in 100 students in Delft was female. The fact that I made a career has not been a matter of course, but I really enjoyed it. I want other women to have this possibility too' says Mrs. Van Damme, who is now 86 years old.
'My husband passed away and we did not have children so I wondered what I should do with my heritage. The rising of Dutch women to higher positions in the professional fiels is behind the positions of their male colleagues and women abroad. This is how I came up with the idea to support female engineers with some years of work experience but want to develop further.'
Marina van Damme studied in Delft, obtained her PhD in Twente and made a career at the Koninklijke Zoutfabriek, now Akzo. She wanted to support female engineers with some years of work experience but want to develop further. In 2003 she therefore handed out the annual Marina van Damme Grant at the universities of Twente and Delft. In 2010 the Eindhoven University of Technology was added to the list. With the creation of the 4TU Federation last year, she has now added Wageningen University & Research to the series.
The official signing of the Marina van Damme Fund is shown on the photo below. You can see from left to right: Delia de Vreeze, University Fund Wageningen director, Marina van Damme, donor, and Louise O. Fresco, chairman of the executive board of Wageningen University & Research.