The toxicity of chemical compounds in the environment is measured by exposing organisms in their most vulnerable stage of life to toxic substances. As a result of this research norms are set. WAU graduate J.E. Kammenga challenges this type of research in his thesis. He found that nematodes develop strategies to compensate for toxic stress; although the toxic compounds are severely damaging to the reproduction process of the organisms severely, fitness of the species remains unaffected. Ecotoxicologists and ecologists should exchange results to improve this research and develop accurate norms, says Kammenga, who works at the Department of Nematology.
WAU's University Council is pursuing its policy of decentralization by establishing research and education institutes in which faculty managers are in charge of apportioning budgets. One result of this policy should be a shift from a central distribution of money based on, among other factors, student numbers, toward more qualitative choices based on departmental output. But as long as the executive tasks and responsibilities of these newly appointed managers remain unclear, argues journalist Albert Sikkema, the shop floor of the WAU has little confidence in organisational changes brought about in such a harsh financial climate.
WAU's environmental research is top of the bill in Holland, according to an international inspection committee. The programmes of the Wimek Research Institute produce the interdisciplinary integration necessary to resolve key environmental problems, the committee argues. The quality of the Water and Soil Management programme of Dr L. Lyklema is excellent, as is that of the Greenhouse Gasses and Climate Change programme of Dr N. van Breemen. The Environmental Technology programme (Dr G. Lettinga) and Environmental System Analysis (Dr E.C. van Ierland) programmes have been judged as good.
According to another international inspection committee the economic research of the WAU satisfactory or good. There are no weak economic programmes, the departments seem to occupy a somewhat isolated niche nationally but have developed many and fruitful contacts with agricultural economists from other countries, the committee states. The Agricultural Economics and Policy programme of Dr A.J. Oskam was assessed as good, while the other five departments produce satisfactory research. Other Dutch universities produce both outstanding as well as poor research.
Departing chair of the Department of Physical and Colloid Chemistry Hans Lyklema took the opportunity to present his collection of exam bloomers during his parting speech in November. During his 33 year career he was confronted with many priceless statements including Higher in the atmosphere there are few moles, and at higher temperatures moles move faster. He regrets the passing of exams based on essay questions. Multiple choice questions leave little room for this kind of flights of fancy.