WUR is a highly esteemed world-class Dutch university that trains specialists in a variety of life sciences disciplines. WUR’s research and teaching activities range from sustainable agriculture and land use, to microbiology, health, environment, food, and bioenergy.

The Wageningen group was made up of Ph.D. students in microbiology-related fields visiting the major microbiology centers on the U.S. West Coast including and beyond Berkeley Lab, from UCLA to Bay Area biotechnology companies. The students are citizens of many countries including the Netherlands who are attracted to Wagenigen’s top programs in agricultural research and related life sciences.

After tours of the area where the new BioEPIC facility is under construction and Building 50, a mini-symposium was held to share research talks amongst Wageningen and Berkeley Lab personnel. Ecology Department Head Romy Chakraborty first gave an overview of the important research that will be housed within the BioEPIC facility, and Peter Fischer, a Wageningen student, discussed the research on the UC Berkeley campus. Both groups are interested in fundamental and applied research investigating microbiology’s role in protecting human health and ensuring a sustainable future.

Speakers from both institutions took turns giving talks on their own research, including Patrick Sorensen, Stephanie Chacon, Shwetha Acharya, and Kolby Jardine from Berkeley Lab and Reiner Egas and Maaike Bestemen from Wageningen. Topics ranged from snowmelt influence on nitrogen cycling (Sorensen) and syntrophic organisms’ roles in anaerobic digestion (Bestemen) to the effects of drought stress on plants (Jardine). Members from both institutions took time to speak with each other about research and career goals during a coffee break as well as more specific questions during research talks.

This was the second visit by Wageningen students to Berkeley Lab, after the last visit in 2014. Both organizations made lasting connections through this event which provides young scientists and undergraduate and graduate students with the unique opportunity to share their research and connect with their European peers.