Alie de Boer in the top 5 of 'Science Talent of the Year'

Food scientist Alie de Boer from the UM campus in Venlo is among the final five talented researchers who have a chance of winning the New Scientist title ‘Science Talent of the Year’. She gets to pitch her research during the New Scientist Live event in Utrecht on 31 May. The winner will be announced on that day.

Alie and consumers
“I didn’t become a researcher to purely and exclusively conduct research. My knowledge about food should help consumers with the many questions you may have if you want to make conscious food choices. What has really been proven about the claims that are on some products? What are the effects of the various substances in fruits and vegetables? I think it’s important that we look at the entire product, not just one healthy substance that is incorporated into it and that has a positive effect on your health. Take, for example, vitamin C in soft drinks, or plant sterols in cholesterol-lowering margarines.”

Alie and companies
“I also research how you can develop new methods for testing the safety of food. For example, there is a ‘ninety-day animal study’, where usually a rat is exposed to a particular substance for ninety days to determine if it’s safe. That’s expensive; we want less animal testing; and, moreover, it’s not always required before a new product comes on the market. As a researcher, I think it’s important to identify what the legal requirements are and whether this is the most useful way to guarantee food safety.”

Alie in the supermarket
“I love good food and sometimes a little more than I actually need. And I’m a food scientist and founder of the Food Claims Centre in Venlo: when I walk into the supermarket it’s even impossible for me to pay attention to everything. But I do try to be critical and not allow myself to be seduced by packaging that displays just one healthy substance that’s inside it.”

Alie and the competition
“It is an honour for me to be nominated by our rector and then nominated by New Scientist. I see it primarily as a platform to share what I’m doing. Showing what you’re researching, also to people you might otherwise not reach, is my main motivation for participating. So, I would also love to go to the final in Tivoli Vredenburg on 31 May to pitch my research.”

The public vote counts for 50 per cent of the final result. A jury determines the other 50 per cent. During New Scientist Live, the five talents with the highest scores will give a short pitch about their research. There will also be speeches given by primatologist Frans de Waal, UM moral philosopher Katleen Gabriels (FASoS) and astrobiologist Inge Loes ten Kate. At the end of the evening, during a festive ceremony, it will be announced which talent has received the most votes and can call themselves the New Scientist Science Talent 2019. Click here for more information about the evening and for tickets (in Dutch).


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