He has chosen not to extend his term of office, despite the request to do so from the Supervisory Board. In an interview with Wb he declared that after four years it is time for Wageningen UR to look for a new chairman. "Four years is a good period. If I were to stay longer, tiredness would set in, both in myself and the organisation. It is better to leave before either of us is tired of each other." He also indicated that he is leaving for personal reasons, although he did not divulge any further information.
Wageningen scientists are participating in the international boycott of commercial scientific publishers, organised by the American Public Library of Science (PLoS).
So far nearly 27,000 scientists from 160 countries have signed a declaration supporting the move to withhold their articles and books from publishers who do not support the free distribution of scientific knowledge. The list on the PLoS website (www.publiclibraryofscience.org) also contains the names of 15 scientists from Wageningen UR, including the colloid chemist Dr Luuk Koopal, economist Dr Pierre van Mouche and plant scientists Professor Christa Heyting and also four researchers at Applied Plant Research (PPO).
Plant Research International is to work together with two companies on a new DNA-chip.
The new chip is more sensitive, works faster and can be compared to a tape recorder: it records the activity of DNA over time. The new DNA-chip has been developed by the company PamGene in Den Bosch, and Plant Research International has signed a four-year contract with this company and one other. The researchers plan to use the time to see if they can use the chip to detect disease or pathogens in export crops more quickly than presently available methods. They will begin by practising on tomatoes and chrysanthemums.
Sociology in Wageningen has suffered under the reorganisation and cuts of the last few years.
The inspection committee for sociocultural sciences of the Dutch universities association (VSNU) awarded a 'pass' (voldoende) to the sociologists here for the period 1995-1999: the lowest score in the country. The quality of sociological study and research has improved throughout the Netherlands in the past five years and the number of publications per researcher has doubled. The Wageningen sociologists are also more productive, but the committee believes that the quality can be improved. One suggestion is that the Sociology of Developing Countries group (under Professor Norman Long) should merge with that of Western Rural Sociology under Professor Jan Douwe van der Ploeg. This would give the small Wageningen departments more weight.