Alumnus of the Month

Alumnus of the Month is a column in which we highlight an alumnus with a special job or achievement.

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April 2022: Kiane de Kleijne

Kiane de Kleijne

A new report by the UN climate panel IPCC, titled 'Mitigation of Climate Change external link', was published at the beginning of april. Alumnus Kiane de Kleijne (Liberal Arts and Sciences, 2013), who is researching the possibilities of limiting further climate change as a PhD candidate at Radboud University, collaborated on this report for the past two years.

The report is causing alarm everywhere. It does not look favourable: to limit global warming to 1.5 °C  we need far more ambitious climate plans than are currently in place. The subject of the latest IPCC report is the prevention of climate change, or mitigation. ‘The IPCC does not conduct research itself, but brings together all existing research on climate change. Such a report is actually made possible by the whole academic community working together,’ says Kiane.

Kiane, who was also involved in the report published in 2018, says that the intention was to finish it already last summer, before the climate summit in Glasgow in November 2021. The reports IPCC form the basis for the negotiations on climate policy. ‘The authors make a 30-page summary of the report, which itself is over 2000 pages long, for the policymakers. The summary is then reviewed line by line by policymakers from all the participating countries before publication, while the scientists make sure that everything in the summary corresponds to the underlying report.’ Unfortunately, this time the process had to be carried out entirely online, which meant it took twice as long as four years ago.

‘In terms of content, nothing is changed in this phase. But a selection is made, which dictates the focus of the document. Most people only read the summary, so it is very important that it is good. The summary identifies different ways to limit temperature rise. For each of these ways is indicated where the research concerned can be found in the original report. The statements are presented with a confidence level that is determined by the strength of the evidence and the degree of scientific consensus on the subject.’

The launch of a new report is always an exciting moment. ‘The report is there and what will happen next? At the moment everyone is mainly focused on the war, but climate change continues. Policies must be made for the future to implement the formulated emission reduction targets. The information from the reports issued by IPCC forms the scientific basis for all climate policies, both national and international. It is very nice to be able to see the importance of research so directly,’ says Kiane. ‘It is fantastic to work intensively for years with leading scientists from all over the world on something that has such an impact. It is quite an investment of time, next to your regular work, but it is totally worth it.’

March 2022: Alumnus of the Year

Portret van Marion Koopmans

Leading researcher on the spread of viruses Professor Marion Koopmans, studied veterinary medicine in Utrecht and completed her studies in 1976. On Friday 25 March, during the celebration of the 386th Dies Natalis of Utrecht University, she was named Alumnus of the Year.

About Marion Koopmans, Alumnus of the Year

Febuary 2022: Carolien Arnold

Carolien Arnold portret
Photo: Jelle Verhoeks

"I have made 900 new friends. You want to speak to them all anyway." Carolien Arnold studied Theatre Science and is now a theatre maker and co-initiator and project leader of 'Gekomen om te blijven'. In the run-up to the celebration of the 900th birthday of the city of Utrecht in June 2022, Carolien tells the stories of 900 (!) Utrechters, past and present, together with other involved city residents. Among them many alumni. Why did they come to Utrecht? Why did they stay?

After finishing her studies in 2002 Carolien stayed in Utrecht. She also stayed loyal to the university, where she later followed the Education for Professionals programme Leadership in Culture. This is where 'Gekomen om te blijven' (Having come to stay) came into being: "We were asked to think about the question: how to make the 900th anniversary celebrations in Utrecht truly something that comes from the city itself. How do you ensure that people recognise themselves in this celebration? You look for connections. We found that connection in the reasons for coming to the city: that creates a bond.

Carolien Arnold

If you ask Utrechters why they came here, you'll find five motivations. One of which is very important: education. This also applied to Carolien herself, she chose Utrecht with conviction: "When I was about thirteen we went on a school trip from Groningen to Utrecht. Standing on top of the Dom tower I already thought: this is a really nice city, I could live here. So when I could choose between Amsterdam and Utrecht for my studies, the choice was quickly made.

Among the many alumni that Carolien portrayed she discovered that about half of them also consciously chose Utrecht: cosy, rich history, beautiful city and good university. For the other half it was the other way round. They thought: I'm going to study here and then I'll take it from there. "After their studies, they turned out to be so rooted that they stayed.

Students who are currently studying history also participate in the project, they make the historical portraits. Carolien: "I also give them lectures: how can they translate their scientific historical research into public portraits? It is great fun to do. This project only makes my own connection with the city stronger."

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January 2022: three generations Hackeng

Drie generaties Hackeng op trap in Academiegebouw

Both Dr Wil Hackeng and Dr Tilman Hackeng stood here before, on the stairs of our Utrecht University Hall. On Thursday 20 January they stood there again, with their (grand)son Wenzel Hackeng between them. Just before that, he successfully defended his doctoral thesis on neuroendocrine tumours, a rare form of cancer. This makes his promotion special, as Wenzel is the third generation of Hackeng to have studied in Utrecht and to receive his doctorate here.

Drie maal promotie Hackeng

Grandfather Wil Hackeng studied chemistry and obtained his doctorate on 20 November 1963 with his thesis Elsinochrome A and some related pigments. The photo of his promotion made it to the Utrechts Nieuwsblad. His son Tilman Hackeng also studied in Utrecht and also Chemistry. Thirty years after his father, he defended his thesis entitled The protein C system on endothelial cells. He is now professor and head of the Biochemistry department at Maastricht University and director of CARIM (Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht).

At the UMC Utrecht, his son and grandson Wenzel Hackeng developed a model that enables him to identify the origin of cancer in patients with metastases from a neuroendocrine tumour (NET) of unknown origin. The model is more accurate than current diagnostics. For patients with such a rare tumour, this means that they can be offered a more targeted treatment plan in the future. Read more about Wenzel Hackeng's research.

See also the Alumni of the Month of 20212020 and 2019.