The 2018 Research Award of the University Fund Wageningen goes to Carolina Levis, researcher at the Forest Ecology and Forest Management group. She led an interdisciplinary team of researchers that included archaeologists and ecologists, which resulted in an authoritative Science publication.
© Guy Ackermans
Carolina Levis received a certificate, a replica of the statue ‘De Wageningse Boom’ and a sum of 2,500 euros during the symposium ‘What is Life’ on 12 March.
Levis’ research team showed that the trees planted and used in the Amazon basin by indigenous people even before Columbus’ arrival still play a notable part in the present-day rainforest. The team linked archaeological data of old habitations to 85 tree species in the Amazon area. In doing so, they refuted the widespread opinion among ecologists that the Amazon area was pure nature before the arrival of the Spanish.
The Brazilian Carolina Levis, until a year ago still a PhD candidate in the Forest Ecology and Forest Management group, was the main author of the article published in Science, which counts over 150 co-authors. The jury praises her leadership, motivation and creativity.
The University Fund Wageningen annually awards the Research Award to a young WUR researcher who has published an excellent and original scientific article. This year, the jury was composed of Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol, Professor Imke de Boer, Dean of Research Richard Visser, and Martin Mwangi, the laureate of the 2017 Research Award.