Wetenschap - 12 september 2002

English summary

The Wageningen economists were given a respectable score of 7.1 for the quality of their research by the evaluation committee of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands. While not at the top of the Dutch league, Wageningen has improved on its score of 6.3 five years ago. Aspects that were praised include the interdisciplinary nature of research, collaboration with LEI and the emphasis on publishing in prestigious journals. Weaker points mentioned were the unclear structure of research programmes and the lack of interaction between the various economics groups and other departments at Wageningen UR.

The Student Council starts a project this week to help students organise their work space at home in such a way that the chance of developing RSI is reduced.

The university devoted much of last year to equipping the computer rooms with RSI friendly furniture, but students working on graduation theses and PhD research assistants often have to make do with unsuitable work space. According to Fred Hoek of the Occupational Health and Environmental Service, the main problem is lack of money. So far he has not even been able to organise making an inventory of problems. According to student doctor Andr? Godkewitsch there are hundreds of students with RSI problems.

A rower from the Wageningen club Argo, Michiel van Eupen, has managed to secure himself a place in the World Rowing Championships in Seville, Spain, which start 15 September.

Only two months ago it looked as though he might miss the world championship for the fourth time when his partner had a cycling accident. Fortunately he has now qualified with a new partner from Amsterdam, Jeroen Bart Hilckman, for the coxless pairs.

The huge irrigation schemes introduced since independence in Pakistan covering 14 million hectares of farmland are being used in the wrong way by farmers, according to recent PhD graduate Gerardo van Halsema.

He was not surprised by this conclusion: the systems were far too complex and largely designed by Western consultants flown in by the World Bank. These engineers came up with technically optimal solutions for efficient irrigation but ignored the fact that no provision was made for ensuring that appropriate water management took place. Before independence design and management of irrigation systems was done regionally, but after 1947 everything was brought under the centralised Water and Power Development Authority.

One of the seven otters recently released into the wild in Drenthe under an Alterra project was reported missing last week.

Even an air search carried out last Friday was unsuccessful. Hugh Jansman, project leader, suspects that the Lithuanian female otter has lost her transmitter. "We have had many reports of sightings and now we have to follow these up."

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