Els van de Zande won the prize with a clear explanation of plant health research

Els van de Zande has been declared the winner of the Jan Ritzema Bosprijs Prize 2023. The award has been created to provide recognition to PhD students who are able to conduct articulate research on a complex scientific issue in the field of plant health. For interested non-scientists. The JRB Award is awarded once every three years by the Royal Netherlands Society for Plant Protection (KNPV).

Nominees and jury for the presentation of Jan Ritzema Bosprijs, an award for clearly explaining research on plant health (Photo: KNPV).

The award ceremony was held during the KNPV meeting on May 16th with the theme “Communicating about Scientific Research.” The jury, consisting of Kirsten Lees, Geert Pinksterhouse and Pete Flamming, had previously chosen three candidates from among thirteen entries. In addition to Els van de Zande, these were Kiki Kots and Jelle Spooren. Submissions on the topic varied and ranged from basic research to the more practice-oriented.

That made it difficult for the jury, but it gives a good picture of the wide field. The research topics also show that KNPV still has many issues in research and practice when it comes to plant health. This is all the more reason to make this known to a wide audience and to formulate this paper in a clear manner. Based on the presentations made by the three nominees at the meeting, the jury selected one winner.

Presentation by Jan Ritzema Bosprijs, Prize for Clear Explanation of Plant Health Research. Els van de Zande (left) is the winner and there are honorable mention nominations for Jelly Spooren and Kiki Kots (Photo: KNPV).

The jury report stated:

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Els van de Zande
: “Organic Crop Protection in Circular Farming: How Insect Waste Leads to Larger, Healthier Plants.”
Els van de Zande has written a pep story with a general introduction to contextualize the research. She then described the more specific questions and findings, but phrased them in general and simple language. The whole has become a living story in which her positive amazement at the results achieved can be heard.

The jury says of its presentation:
Explanation and presentation very clear and clear. She took the audience by the hand and led them step by step through her story. It concluded with the practical applications of its results. Els used a variety of visual supports such as photos, charts, graphics, and video, which I used in a meaningful and dosed way.

Using the “Caterpillar-never-enough” well known to young and old as a graphic, it created a bond with the audience. In addition to this interaction with the audience, Els was able to answer all of the audience’s questions professionally and clearly. Els also successfully submitted her multi-year research within the required 15 minutes.

Supervisor nomination
Jill SporinGermline Legacy: How Plants ‘Vaccinate’ Their Offspring Against Pathogens”.

He has written an engaging and impassioned story with a very general and engaging introduction to contextualize the research. This makes the reader very curious. It then explains in clear terms what the research approach was, what the findings were and how the results can be used in the long term to prevent crop losses.

Supervisor nomination
Kiki Coates: “Dynamic organization of the cytoskeleton in plant pathogens”

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Her story has a good structure and is engaging. It takes the reader a step by step out of context – a bit of history, what kind of pathogen is this? – Microscopic examination and the specific subject of its research. She explains in understandable terms how she came to a special discovery in collaboration with others. It is a good example of how to properly explain and draw attention to the science about something that is not known to the general public.

Els van de Zande gets to Jan Ritzema Bosprijs 2023 for a clear explanation of her plant health research (Photo: KNPV).

Recommendations, pitfalls and fake news
In addition to the presentations by the JRB Award nominees, Gert van Maanen, Editor-in-Chief of Bionieuws – the trade journal for biologists, gave a talk on “Mainstreamizing Plant Health: Recommendations and Pitfalls.” Give room participants advice on how to translate complex plant health topics to a wide audience, with examples of how things can go well, but sometimes things also go wrong.

Also an appeal not to remain silent, especially as experts, because fake news and fantastic myths are already spreading more than enough.

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