Emeritus Prof Dr Tiny van Boekel, MSc, will hold the extraordinary chair in Dairy Science & Technology at the Wageningen University & Research as from 1 September 2017. This chair is a common initiative of Wageningen University & Research and the Dutch Diary Association (NZO). The most important ambition for this chair is the connection between sustainability of the production of dairy and nutrition and health. Strategic cooperation is key here.
With this chair, Wageningen University & Research wants to connect dairy technology with the entire dairy chain and with the sustainability issue. In consultation with the sector, Prof Van Boekel will commit himself to connecting a sustainable dairy production with knowledge about how dairy products can make a contribution to nutrition and health. As sustainability is interrelated with many aspects and measures in the dairy production, this is a major scientific challenge. An important question is, for instance, how sustainability can be measured.
The chair will be positioned on the junction of sustainability and nutrition and health, which will link agricultural sciences with nutritional sciences. ‘This approach is unique in the world. With this dairy will be leading and we will act as an example for other chains, for instance meat’, according to Van Boekel. ‘We will not specifically focus on the health effects of dairy products, but take a broader look at a healthy diet, which dairy is a part of. This can only be done in cooperation with he sector and in dialogue with society.’
Agriculture and food processing are important pillars of the Dutch economy, whereas healthy food patterns and sustainable production are important social issues. Wageningen University & Research has the ambition to link economic and social challenges with scientific insights.
Education perfectly fits in with this, according to Van Boekel. ‘We educate young people to become professionals who can connect technological skills with the needs of society. In this way our approach will also have an effect on society.’
Prof Van Boekel will hold the endowed chair for a year. The chair had been vacant since the superannuation of Prof Toon van Hooijdonk in 2016 and was part of the chair group Product Design & Quality Management, which Prof Van Boekel headed until mid 2012, now Food Quality & Design led by Prof Vincenzo Fogliano. Prof Van Boekel will set up a strategic plan for the further development of the chair in the coming year.