Wetenschap - 10 oktober 2002

English summary

How well known is Wageningen UR outside the boundaries of this small town on the banks of the Rhine?

"If I mention the words food and food safety, what do you think of?" asked the interviewer of a panel of 15 carefully selected 'average Dutch people'. He was met by puzzled frowns and stony silence. "Nothing? Absolutely nothing?" the interviewer repeated, and made a note. He was working at the request of Wageningen UR on a survey of how well known the institution is in the Netherlands as a result of its publicity campaign. Looks like they've got a long way to go yet.

Despite the low profile not all parts of Wageningen UR are unknown.

The figures for enrolments are now available and the MSc in management and consumer studies is way ahead of all other graduate courses. A total of 65 Dutch graduates and 45 international students have enrolled. Course coordinator Edwin Kroese puts this down to the new, active recruitment strategy started a number of years ago, which is now bearing fruits. The recruitment campaign within the Netherlands was broadened to include colleges offering facility management courses, instead of only agricultural degrees. In addition Kroese made use of enthusiastic students already in Wageningen to talk personally to interested applicants.

The SSHW student accommodation office made known this week which corridors in the student flats will be emptied to make way for incoming international students.

A total of nineteen corridors in four of the 'star flat' buildings will become international student accommodation by 1 April 2004. Most of the current occupants will have left by then, but nevertheless not everyone is happy with the news. It will mean upheaval for some Dutch students, and a number of the corridors are already mixed in terms of the nationalities residing there, and integration is good. The measure will mean an extra two hundred rooms, which will go some way to meeting the needs for the increasing number of international students.

PhD researcher Andrea Romano has managed to get modified potato cells to manufacture minute quantities of the plastic PHA (polyhyroxyalkanoate).

PHA is a bioplastic that researchers hope will someday replace plastics made using mineral oils. Romano carried out his research at ATO, and succeeding in getting isolated transgenic potato cells to make the plastic in a liquid medium. The process was also successful in the leaves of intact potato plants, but not in the tubers. Natural raw materials for the production of bioplastics can be used for a wide range of applications including rubberlike materials, cheese rind and binding agents.

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