Rudolf Pierik gave his farewell speech at the WAU as Professor in Tissue Culture last week. In the 1960s he introduced a technique for growing identical plants out of plant tissue material which he had learned in Paris from Professor Gautheret. Pierik's graduate students spread the technique to the laboratories of horticultural companies, who were producing 95 million mini-plants from tissue material by 1990. After the honeymoon period the labour-intensive technique for tissue culture production transferred to low-income countries like Poland and India. Plant cloning is a basic technique for genetic manipulation, according to the professor, who is still busy with a few new experiments he wants to sort out before leaving
Meanwhile Dutch agricultural companies are busy with mergers and take-overs to improve their position on the world market. This not only enables them to spread their production capacity over several countries in order to enter new markets, but also to start R&D divisions in these areas. In the future Wageningen will face more rivalry from foreign research organisations in the fight to obtain research funds from the multinationals. The change from public to private funding also means that the research results will have to be kept secret
More WAU students prefer individual sports than team sports. Jazz aerobics, aquafit and power training are popular; soccer and volleyball are on the decrease, and the handball club has no competition teams left. Students want flexibility and like zapping from one sport to another, says Theo Joosten, head of the WAU sport centre The Bongerd. We try to cope with that by offering a pass which lets you switch from one sport to another each week.
The five-year educational programmes of the WAU should include modules that teach students how to design a machine or plan. This would prepare them for the labour market. Some programmes offer specialist modules, like building a wastewater machine; others cooperate with other courses on more general projects, like building a greenhouse which runs on solar energy. This teaches students to cooperate with people from other disciplines, explain the course directors. Learning communication and social skills then becomes more important than making a ready-to-use design