The WAU department of Agricultural Engineering & Physics and the DLO institute for Environmental and Agricultural Techniques (IMAG) want to merge as soon as possible. The two chairmen, Professor Bert Speelman and director Aad Jongebreur, already wanted a merger two years ago, to improve their position in market-oriented research and personnel exchange. On the eve of the creation of Knowledge Centre Wageningen, the Boards of both WAU and DLO decided that integration of fundamental and applied research would be premature. Fourteen PhD students work at IMAG, but Speelman's colleague Professor Gerrit van Straten is anxious whether fundamental research will survive the coming merger
Dr Georg Frerks will take up the chair in Disaster Management at the WAU. The University's traditional focus has been on structural development in rural areas, thus neglecting conflicts that affect the population and agricultural production. Frerks wants to direct studies on scarcity, over population, leadership and environmental degradation in conflict situations. This disaster professor should free us from micro analysis, stated sociologist Jan den Ouden
Take a walk to the arboretum of the university near the Dreijen complex, where plant taxonomists Wim Koopman and Jan Just Bos have planted twenty varieties of lettuce in an exhibition garden. They want to improve the taxonomic knowledge of students and biotechnologists, who are rarely familiar with the complete plants they are modifying in their laboratories. The exhibition has arisen out of genetic research carried out by Koopman and Bos. Koopman found that the genetic relationship between the varieties is probably different from the division made by taxonomists on the basis of morphological characteristics
Twenty-five percent of the students at WAU don't finish their study. The two main reasons that they quit: lack of motivation and inaccurate expectations of what the study is about. The university cannot be blamed for this, a PhD student from Nijmegen concluded in his thesis, based on the experience of four hundred students who gave up their studies. WAU Student Dean Jan van Bommel agrees. The only thing the university can do is to intensify contact between students and staff. Students will then know sooner if they have chosen the right course, which can save them a lot of money
WAU microbiologist Dr Ad van Egeraat has produced micro-organisms which are currently on show in the Boijmans Van Beuningen art gallery in Rotterdam. He collaborated with controversial couturier and artist Martin Margiela, who treated clothes with fungi and bacteria. The result is colourful rags. I wasn't immediately excited when the curator called me, explains Van Egeraat. Later I thought: why not do it? Everything is ephemeral in the end and it's a unique project.