Science - March 18, 2011

5000th doctoral degree in Wageningen

When Alireza Seifi successfully defends his PhD thesis today under Prof. Richard Visser of the Laboratory of Plant Breeding, the 5000th doctoral degree will be conferred in Wageningen. The rector, Martin Kropff, will chair the degree ceremony.

It took up to 1984, or 66 years, before Wageningen greeted its 1000th PhD graduate. But things picked up speed afterwards. In 1986, the university introduced the trainee research assistantship (aio). Nine years down the road, in 1995, the 2000th degree conferral took place. Six years later, number 3000 became a reality; the number 4000 followed in year 2006. And now, five years later, it's number 5000. More than 2000 PhD degrees have been conferred steadily in the last few years, of which more than half were on foreign graduates.
Alireza Seifi from Iran typified genes which would make the tomato resistant against the 'powdery mildew' disease.  He evaluated the resistance of four sets of genes in wild tomatoes. 
His supervisor, Richard Visser, is one of the professors with the most PhD graduates in the past years, having supervised 32 candidates since 2006. The top scorer is microbiologist Willem de Vos, with forty graduates to his credit. De Vos also heads the 'list of all times' with 88 PhD graduates over the years.

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