Science - March 10, 2005

Prizes for alumni

Three Wageningen graduates were awarded prizes during the foundation day celebrations this year. The author Frank Westerman and cancer researcher Professor Floor van Leeuwen received the Outstanding Alumnus Award. Dr Azene Bekele-Tesemma received the Alumnus Award for Innovative Development.

It is the first time the prizes have been awarded, in a joint initiative from the Wageningen Alumni Centre and the International Agricultural Centre (IAC). Westerman studied Tropical agricultural engineering in Wageningen and has worked as a journalist on a number of Dutch national newspapers. He is the author of a number of books including ‘De Graanrepubliek’ about the decline of agriculture in the northern province of Groningen, and ‘Ingenieurs van de Ziel’ about large-scale irrigation projects in the Soviet Union. According to the jury, Westerman uses personal stories to highlight themes that are highly relevant for Wageningen UR.

Cancer researcher Floor van Leeuwen has worked for the Netherlands Cancer Institute since she graduated from Wageningen in 1981. She conducts epidemiological research on how different forms of cancer arise. Van Leeuwen combines her research with active participation on more than twenty committees and advisory bodies. She is an active campaigner on behalf of the daughters of women who were given the hormone DES during their pregnancies in the Fifties and Sixties. The hormone caused not only birth defects, but resulted in the daughters having an increased risk of developing vaginal cancer.

The Ethiopian Bekele-Tesemma received his PhD from Wageningen in 1997. He now works for the international agroforestry institute ICRAF in Nairobi as an advisor on competency development. Bekele-Tesemma also actively supports farmers in Kenya and Ethiopia. In 2004 he won 20,000 dollars for the best poster at a CGIAR conference. He has used the money for a farmers’ organisation, reserving some of it for an annual prize for the most innovative farmer. / KV

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