I’m the programme coordinator of the Master’s in Forensic Science. Forensic science for me is about disciplinary scientific knowledge as well as going beyond borders and building bridges between different scientific disciplines, science and the forensic field, and between the partners of the forensic process. This context makes for a demanding programme for students and teachers alike.
As coordinator of the programme, I’m responsible for all organisational issues and I’m continuously working on the improvement of the curriculum with the programme director and other staff. Together with the teachers and the staff, we aim to offer the students an excellent programme to learn about forensic science and to prepare our students for their professional career.
I have a background in biology and sustainable development which I studied at the University of Amsterdam and where I also finished my PhD in Ecogenomics. What I find very interesting about forensic science is the interdisciplinary character. In our master, students learn how to work together with people from various disciplines and nationalities. In addition, decisions made by forensic scientists can have an enormous impact on people’s lives. Therefore, it is important that our graduates have excellent disciplinary knowledge in combination with well-developed professional attitude and skills, such as integrity, communication skills and the ability to reflect on one’s own performance.
For the students, the Master’s in Forensic Science is not only a journey in forensic science but also in their personal development. All in all it is an intensive and varied study, where a successful result is also dependent on the enthusiasm and the personal input of the students themselves.
After my PhD I helped to start the nonprofit organization Science4Nature.
Science4Nature develops and executes recovery plans for the conservation of rare and threatened wild species. Due to habitat fragmentation, many threatened species nowadays occur in small and isolated populations. It is often assumed that habitat restoration measures, such as enlarging or connecting nature areas, will lead to the recovery of threatened species. However, the viability of these small populations is often severly diminished due to inbreeding, lower reproduction and loss of genetic variation. Therefore, many species do not recover after habitat restoration and additional measures are necessary. Science4Nature combines population biology research on distribution, population structure, reproduction and genetic variation with practical recovery measures to enhance the viability of endangered wild species and give them a sustainable future.
Science4Nature gives lectures, courses and workshops on population biology and nature conservation of endangered wild species. In addition, Science4Nature offers internships on conservation biology and applied ecological research on endangered species. Internships can include ecological fieldwork, molecular labwork and/or modelling.
Visit their website (link below) for more information, internships and current projects.
In June 2012 I successfully defended my thesis. This PhD work was conducted in combination with other work done at Wageningen University by Brigitte Uwimana and modeling work done at the University of Amsterdam by Patrick Meirmans.
Since the introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's) there has been much controversy about the possible negative effects of transgene escape, such as an increased invasiveness of the wild relative. After insertion those genes are not stand-alone units: they interact with those in linkage around them. Transgenes placed in close with genes or genomic regions that provide a negative selection effect in the wild habitat would be less likely to spread into a wild population. Therefore, for Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) of GMO's, it is important to know whether these genomic regions exist, and how they affect fitness.
I used lettuce as a non-transgenic crop-wild model system in a series of greenhouse and field studies to identify a variety of Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs). I focussed on two main questions: (i) What are the fitness effects of genes inherited from the crop? (ii) Can small-scale contained experiments with transgenes be used to assess potential ecological consequences?
I identified a genomic region, where the crop genetic background induced later flowering, lower survival, lower seed production and lower fitness. Therefore, the study of genomic selection patterns can identify crop genomic regions under negative selection across multiple environments en cultivar-wild crosses that might be applicable in transgene mitigation strategies. At the same time, results were cultivar specific, so that a case-by-case ERA is still necessary. In addition, there was a low correspondence between field QTL and those detected in the greenhouse, suggesting that greenhouse studies are of limited value as predictors for field fitness.