Laura van Niftrik
Laura van Niftrik

Laura van Niftrik appointed Vice Dean of Education at the Faculty of Science

Laura van Niftrik, professor of Microbiology, has been appointed as the Vice Dean of Education at the Faculty of Science. She will assume this role on October 1st, succeeding Nicolo de Groot. "I'm very excited about this. Not only to make a meaningful contribution to the faculty and education but also to continue learning myself," says Laura van Niftrik.

Why did you choose to take this step? 

"At this faculty, there are many passionate and skilled educators. Everyone is committed to providing the best education for our students. I derive a lot of energy from collaborating with colleagues to enhance the quality of education. I believe it's crucial that we provide students with a good education. Additionally, we must consider the students' future career paths. A significant portion of students won't become researchers, so it's important to understand what we're preparing them for and take that into account within our study programmes."

What do you hope to achieve as Vice Dean of Education? 

"The quality of education at our faculty is already excellent. We have a personalised approach and offer a wide range of programmes. I'm truly impressed by the expertise and dedication of all the educators. However, there are several areas I'd like to focus on. 

Firstly, there are some developments that I want to support, such as the new technology programmes that are coming up. I'd like to play an active role in this, working together with the leaders and education directors of the respective institutes. I'm enthusiastic about this expansion; our university is also known for its diverse offerings. Furthermore, I want to address the issue of student workload. I don't have an immediate solution, but I'm committed to delving into it and understanding the concerns of students, committees, and the content of the study programmes. I don't know all the study programmes as well as those in the field of life sciences, so I'll first need to update my knowledge in that area. 

Additionally, I want to engage in the internationalisation debate. I'm determined to ensure that international students remain welcome at our faculty. There is political pressure to offer Bachelor's programmes in Dutch, but I believe there are valid reasons to continue offering many of our programmes in English. We are part of an international field, and I see the value of diversity in the student population reflected in our lectures. I would be concerned if we were to lose that. 

Finally, I consider the transition from secondary education to university crucial. We are already making progress with PUC of Science. I also admire the Teachers in Residence program at the Faculty of Arts. I would like to offer a similar programme at our faculty. There are plenty of issues to address, but in the initial period, I will primarily observe and listen to get to know the faculty even better."

About Laura van Niftrik 

Laura van Niftrik (1979) studied biology at Radboud University. She earned her doctorate in a collaborative PhD project involving Radboud University, TUDelft, Utrecht University, and the University of Brisbane (Australia) on Anammox bacteria. During her doctoral research, she worked at all four universities. In 2009, she started as an Assistant Professor at Radboud University. From 2016 to 2021, she served on the board of the educational institute for Life Sciences. In 2021, she joined the board of the research institute RIBES. In her current research, Laura van Niftrik continues to work with Anammox bacteria, specifically studying how this bacterium converts ammonia into nitrogen gas and how parts of this process could potentially be used for nitrogen removal or conversion. She also contributes to other climate-related research projects (greenhouse gases) and medical research in collaboration with researchers from Radboudumc (malaria). Additionally, she teaches courses in the Bachelor's and Master's programmes in Biology.

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Faculty of Science