This was an excellent year for farmer Joost Pennings. His sugar beet harvest alone weighed many millions of kilos. “And they’re perfect: hardly any lateral roots and you can really see the sugar in them.” A part-time farmer and professor of Marketing and Finance at Maastricht University (UM), Pennings comes from a long line of farmers who have worked the land since the 14th century. He is passionate about continuing the family tradition.
It is 1972. In the train from Amsterdam to Utrecht sits the 22-year-old student Herman Kingma, an expensive Japanese goldfish in a plastic bag by his side. The fish is sick. Kingma is responsible for hundreds of goldfish used in research at the University of Amsterdam. And since he was put in charge, far fewer fish have died. Now 61, Kingma is one of the world’s leading experts on the vestibular system, which contributes to our sense of balance. With his research, he is leading the charge in the development of the first artificial human vestibular system. Read on for a shaky study path that led to a top career in Maastricht.
“We shouldn’t aim to be a Harvard on the Meuse”
It all started with a call from Jo Ritzen in 2008. Would he like to be dean of the Maastricht Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML)? Three years later, Martin Paul, MD, professor of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, is set to succeed Ritzen as president of the university’s Executive Board.
“When Jo called me I was 50 and had been dean of the Charité university medical centre in Berlin for eight years. I was ready for a new challenge and Maastricht University (UM) has a great reputation in Germany – in fact, much better than that in its own country. Sometimes I get the impression that not everyone in the Netherlands understands what we do here. The fact that UM is now the first Dutch university to choose an international president is something I see as quite logical. After all, we are the most international university in the Netherlands.”
When his wife discovered that the name Bijker is Old Dutch for “beekeeper”, Professor Wiebe Bijker, PhD, decided to take a beekeeping course. At his inaugural lecture in 1995 he was presented with a small beehive, and the professor of Technology and Society at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has been cultivating his hobby ever since. This year, his four beehives produced around 70 kilos of honey. Read on for the relationship between the “Dittrich colony” and the Delta Plan.
He’s a senator for the Christian Democrats (CDA) and a former local councillor. The political domain is expanding his horizons, and this is no bad thing: because internist Karel Leunissen – professor of Internal Medicine at Maastricht University and head of the Nephrology Department at the Maastricht academic hospital (azM) – is terrified of compartmentalisation.
Over four years, the professor and the PhD candidate share an intense relationship. How does this relationship develop? A double portrait of Professor Taru Spronken and her former PhD candidate, Dorris de Vocht.
Esther Crombag is a lecturer in Public Law at Maastricht University, a top-level tandem cyclist and a popular conference speaker. Recently, she also published her biography. Crombag is blind.
Think of a professor and you are apt to picture an absent-minded, white-haired man, perhaps even wearing a lab coat. Though this kind of characters is more likely to be found in films than in real life, the truth is that the vast majority of those holding top academic positions in the Netherlands are men. With the appointment of Monica Claes, professor of European and Comparative Constitutional Law, Maastricht University can be doubly pleased: she is first and foremost an inspiring researcher who, by the way, happens to be a woman.