News - January 12, 2016

Femke Sijtsma wins Cover Prize 2015

Roelof Kleis

Nutritionist Femke Sijtsma won the Cover prize of 2015. The cover of her thesis received 39 percent of the almost 3300 votes.

Sijtsma received her doctoral degree in November in a study on the relation between diet patterns and cardiovascular diseases. The cover of her thesis matched perfectly: a colorful pattern of cubes of unprocessed foods.

Sijtsma used an illustration of the artist duo Lennert & Sander. They made the image for a Volkskrant-special on food. ‘It really fit my thesis’, Stijsma explains. ‘I was looking for an image that would express the idea of diet patterns. If you google that you don’t find much more than fruit baskets. Then I encountered this image of Lennert & Sander. Great, these cubes of food. That was exactly what I was looking for. They were even unprocessed foods. Which had the best result in my research.’

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Sijtsma then approached the artists to ask if she could use the image. ‘I emailed them, explaining what my thesis was on and that their work matched perfectly’, she explains. ‘Their reaction was really enthusiastic.’ Finally she was allowed to use the image for free, of course stating the credits. Harald Pieper of Promotie in Zicht (Promotion in sight) provided the final design. In fact, not much more than creating space for the title and author. Sijtsma: ‘I liked the image so much that I did not want to bring out the text too much.’

In preparation for her graduation she received a lot of praise for her cover. ‘During my defense each opponent had a remark on it. One even played a game with his kids: guessing which fruit or vegetable each cube was.’ Being selected for the Cover Prize was a pleasant surprise. Almost immediately after the election was placed on line, she took the lead. And she never left that position.

She played a large role in this. Through Facebook and LinkedIn she asked followers to vote for her. Also her chair group helped with her election. And last but not least, her family at home. ‘They were constantly keeping track of the ranking and asked acquaintances in the neighbourhood to also vote.’ The cubes of food received 39 percent of the 3300 votes. Second was Dianne van der Spek with her cover on claw health in animals. She received a respectable 29 percent of the votes. On 11 January Sijtsma received the certificate of the Cover Prize at her temporary work place in Biotechnion. Until the end of this month she is still performing research on the use of sugary soft drinks. After that the future is uncertain. ‘I am looking for something else. I want to carry on doing research at the university or at a company. Besides that, education appeals to me too. Ideally, I would like to do a combination of both.’