Stop the disastrous reorganization of evolutionary biology at Leiden University

mardi 20 janvier 2009

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Evolutionary biology in Leiden will be halved due to a disastrous reorganization of the faculty of sciences. Proper training in evolutionary biology will not be possible anymore, although this is a necessary basis for all branches of biology. Training and research in theoretical modeling will also not be possible and Leiden will turn away from involvement in the current major ecological and evolutionary challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.The following evolutionary biologists will be fired or cannot continue their research : Jacques van Alphen, Tom Van Dooren, Frietson Galis, Sacha Gultyaev, Patsy Haccou, Ken Kraaijeveld, Femmie Kraaijeveld, Hans Metz (retired, but still very active) and Rino Zandee. This list contains a Marie Curie professor of Excellence (JVA), the president of the European Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology (FG) and the executive vice-president of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology (PH).

Although evolutionary biology will be heavily cut, molecular biology will be spared. This is part of an alarming national trend. As a result in Utrecht, which has the largest biology teaching program, hardly any evolutionary biologist is left since Gerdien de Jong retired. As a result many biology students will lack the necessary basic training in biology.
Most research into the effects of climate change and biodiversity losses will need to be carried out abroad. We strongly feel that the reorganization should be abandoned, which could be accomplished if : The cuts in biology would be less severe. This is possible if biology would receive all the funding for completed bachelor degrees in biology that the university receives from the ministry.
Cuts should be more evenly divided over molecular and evolutionary biology to maintain a good teaching program. Given the cuts elsewhere in the Netherlands, evolutionary biology should be spared as much as possible.
No internationally renowned scientists should be fired, because this dramatically affects the reputation of the university. This reduces the attractiveness of Leiden University for students and foreign researchers and will reduce funding.