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Ocean saving research awarded by Utrecht University

Last updated 3 months ago by UtrechtCentral.com

Utrecht University awards a special prize to oceanographer Erik van Sebille for his research focused on reducing plastic waste from the oceans.

Delayed award

The Agnites Vrolik Award is usually awarded in March in line with Utrecht University’s Dies Natalis which is celebrated on the 26th of March to commemorate Utrecht University’s anniversary. On this day, the academic institution in its entirety officially became recognized as a university back in 1636.

Due to the corona crisis, 2020’s Agnites Vrolik award ceremony was held on the 31st of August.

Oceanographer wins the 2020 award

The winner, Erik van Sebille created a software which enables the tracking of plastic waste in oceans. It does so by simulating the movements of water currents. This contribution was praised, especially given the world-wide efforts aimed at slowing down climate change. 

Human-technology synergy

The computer tool will soon be implemented in the Galapagos Islands. Its aim is to indicate the location of plastic waste before it is brought back into the sea and further broken down into small, impossible to clean pieces. Therefore park keepers will act promptly and efficiently in removing the dangerous waste, with the help of the program developed in Utrecht. 

Legacy for science

The Agnites Vrolik award was supported by alumna Cobi de Bree who bequeathed a significant sum to the university’s fund. Private contributions by employees, alumni, and philanthropists are used by the university to make further advancements in research and contribute with knowledge and expertise to society. Another example is the Van Leerzem Fund for Medical Research, consisting of 1.2 million euros. This represents the largest bequest in the history of the university. The fund supports research on internal medicine and dermatology with a specific patient-oriented focus.

Source: Utrecht University

Silviu Alexandru Costea
Silviu Alexandru Costea
Silviu A. Costea is a psychology student with a deep appreciation for beauty, may it be in art, science, nature, or anywhere else. With his passion for writing and experience as an international student, he is dedicated to providing quality content on various topics. He is a keen listener and he is convinced that everyone has a story worth sharing.


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