March 19, 2009
FROM SCHOLARSHIP TO RESEARCH PRIZE
Wageningen graduate Peter Msimuko has won the Rijk Zwaan Plant Sciences Award for 2009. The Zambian student did his Masters research on the genetic variation of Phytophthora infestans, which causes potato blight. Msimuko studied one of the avirulence genes of the disease carrier. His results, according to the jury, form ‘an excellent basis for unravelling the molecular mechanism of the interaction between Phytophthora and the potato’. As well as the award, Msimuko received 1500 Euros and a visit to a daughter company of plant breeding company Rijk Zwaan.
Msimuko graduated from Wageningen University this year and is now working at the Zambian Seed Control and Certification Institute. He came to Wageningen in 2007 on a scholarship from the Anne van den Ban Fund, which supports promising students from developing countries. Msimuko was the one hundredth student to receive a scholarship from the fund. Vegetable breeder Rijk Zwaan from De Lier set up the Plant Sciences Award to help improve the image of plant sciences in the Netherlands. Student recruitment is low, and yet seed breeders will need a lot of well qualified people in the coming years. The jury was made up of plant sciences professors from Amsterdam, Utrecht and Wageningen, and a teacher from the HAS University of applied sciences in Den Bosch. The other two nominated students came from Wageningen too.