The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) director and professor Louise Vet has been awarded the highest honour of the British Ecological Society. This Honorary Membership recognises exceptional contributions at international level to the generation, communication and promotion of ecological knowledge and solutions. Other people that currently hold such memberships include Dame Georgina Mace and Sir David Attenborough.
The British Ecological Society (BES) announced in total 9 different awards and prizes for ‘outstanding ecologists’, with only two Honorary Memberships. The winners will be presented with their prizes during a ceremony held at the Society’s annual meeting in December, which will bring together 1,200 ecologists from 60 countries to discuss the latest advances in ecological research across the whole discipline.
This year, the annual meeting will be organised in association with the European Ecological Federation, Gesellschaft für Ökologie (the Ecological Society of Germany, Switzerland and Austria), and NecoV. Louise Vet will be one of four world-renowned keynote speakers, according to the BES.
Benefiting the community
The BES stated that the winners’ work has benefited the scientific community and society in general. Professor Sue Hartley, President of the British Ecological Society, said: “We have a long-standing history of supporting our academic community across the globe and recognise excellence at all career stages. Ecological knowledge can help to address some of the most pressing challenges human society is facing today.”
“The winners of this year’s BES prizes have made outstanding contributions to their field and I congratulate them for their impressive achievements, which advance the science of ecology and its impacts”, Hartley added.
The Honorary membership is the highest honour the BES gives, recognising exceptional contributions at international level to the generation, communication and promotion of ecological knowledge and solutions. Other people that currently hold Honorary Membership include Sir David Attenborough, Dame Georgina Mace, Sir Charles Godfray and Sir John Lawton.
This time, the Honorary Memberships go to Professor Louise Vet and Professor May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prof. Dr Louise Vet is a biologist with a broad interest in ecology and evolution. She is not only an excellent scientist but, especially during the last decade, is also strongly engaged with society to promote the great value of nature for our human economy and societal wellbeing.
With the years, Vet became more and more engaged with society. Not only through her research link with biological control as a sustainable alternative to destructive chemical control in agriculture, but also much broader. One of her quotes is: ‘Destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems is a design problem. Let’s learn from nature and make use of 3.8 billion years of successful natural design to turn our linear economy into a circular one!’
National face of ecology
As chair of the Netherlands Ecological Research Network (a collaboration of all Dutch graduate schools and institutes working in the field of ecology, evolution, and biodiversity) and through her many outreach projects and performances in which she connects ecology with economy, Vet is called the ‘national face of ecology’, ‘the most sustainable professor’ and the ‘initiator of the circular economy in the Netherlands’ (TEDxAmsterdam 2009 and 2011).
She serves as a role model, not only for women in academia but for all young ambitious scientists who want to contribute to a more sustainable and social society.