PE&RC discussion groups

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Discussion groups consist of a multidisciplinary group of scientists. The group meets on a regular (monthly) basis and discusses scientific issues/ papers (e.g. key publications, PhD manuscripts and proposals, new developments in scientific theory). Within PE&RC, a number of discussion groups exist that can be found below. PhD candidates that are abroad for most of the time can also obtain TSP credits by participating in regular discussion groups or scientific meetings of a local institute or university as long as this is recognised by the supervisors. Other scientific interaction with peers at home institutes that broaden the PhD candidate's scientific scope are also allowed for TSP credits.

Function of PE&RC discussion groups
  1. To obtain information, ideas and insight on research;
  2. To discuss key articles to obtain insight in current ecological/agricultural theory;
  3. To present research plan and data during various stages of the PhD appointment;
  4. To learn to present research results, both orally and written;
  5. To develop a critical view on presentation and discussion of research results and to improve one's capabilities in scientific interaction.
Suggested format for PE&RC discussion groups
  1. All phases of the PhD projject (preparation, collection of data and literature, data analysis and oral and written presentation) should be considered in the discussion groups.
  2. New participants are advised to start by giving a presentation of what they will be studying
  3. The composition of discussion groups should be a mixture of PhDs from all different stages of research
  4. Groups should come together once or twice a month for 2 to 3 hours. The meeting can be split up into 2 main segments:
    • Discussion of approximately an hour in which a paper, congress presentation, experimental design or topic on theory is presented and discussed;
    • The second hour is reserved to discuss smaller issues. PhDs bring forward questions, problems or ideas regarding their own research (e.g. statistical design and analysis, methods, literature) after which the group can respond to help solve the issue. This is especially useful to solve day to day research issues.
Current PE&RC discussion groups


Ecological Theory and Application

This discussion group organizes two-monthly meetings for PhD candidates with a broad interest in ecology. Each meeting is organized around a central ecological theme, such as distribution patterns, climate change, ecophysiology, trophic interactions, etc.
A guest speaker is invited to talk about her/his research and to give an introduction on the theme. Then a number of PhD candidates contributes to the afternoon by presenting their research or plans, sending in a manuscript to be commented upon, or discuss a recent paper.
Aim of the meetings is to give participants an overview of state-of-the-art research within the field of ecology, and discuss the work of participating PhD candidates.
For more information or to participate please contact Monique Weemstra ( or Mandy Velthuis (
Check our website for the program of next meeting, calendar and more.

Plant-Insect interactions

The discussion group deals with the molecular, chemical and ecological aspects of plant-insect interactions. Predominantly, we address interactions between plants and herbivores or plants and natural enemies of herbivores. Our aim is to discuss research plans and experimental results. During a meeting of 50 minutes, one or two persons present their work. From September until June, we meet once a month at the Laboratory of Entomology (building 511, C21). Meetings are on Tuesdays starting at 12:30 and can be attended by PhD, post-doc, staff members and others that are interested in plant-insect interactions.
For further information and to participate please contact Erik Poelman ( .

Movement Ecology

Movement Ecology is a vastly expanding discipline within ecology, now that animals can be tracked with smaller and lighter tags. However, theory development is lagging behind. It is not always evident how to analyse movement data or how to model movement especially when animals perform different behaviours. New approaches to analyse and model movement are being developed that work outside the random walk paradigm. The Animal Movement Ecology discussion group functions as a platform to present preliminary work for discussion and consultation. We expect participants to work within movement ecology and be familiar with the book Quantitative analysis of Movement by Turchin. The discussion group meets every six weeks. Each session a paper is discussed related to the work of the speaker. Participants are encouraged to share their knowledge and problems in their own work on animal movement ecology. 
For more information contact the organizers: Andrea Koelzsch ( or Bas Allema (

Food Web Ecology

Topics related to Food web ecology and network theory form the basis of the monthly meetings from the discussion group In advance of the meetings, papers are send around which are then discussed during the meetings. The discussions are usually led by one of the participants (who also proposes the paper to be discussed). In addition, presentations about own research can be given by participants. At the moment, the majority of the members come from the groups of aquatic ecology and Biometris, but all PhD students interested in / working on food webs / network theory is welcome. 
For further information and participation, please contact Jeroen van Leeuwen (

FLOP: Frontier Literature in Plant Physiology

Frontier Literature of Plant Physiology - we discuss recently published papers, submitted manuscripts and concept papers important for, or written by one of the participant each time. One of the participants selects the paper, sends it to all of us at least one week in advance. In our monthly meeting, the paper is presented in 10 minutes by this participant, and we discuss its contents based on questions like: is the aim clear and are the experiments fitting with the aim? are methods all clear? is the (statistical) analysis correct? are conclusions supported by the data?
Our aim is to improve our publication skills, and to learn more about the work of our colleague PhD candidates in the fields of whole plant physiology, crop physiology, crop ecology and product physiology.
Chairperson of a meeting is Dr. Ep Heuvelink or Dr. Wim van Ieperen

Wageningen Evolution and Ecology Seminars (WEES)

Wageningen Evolution and Ecology Seminars (WEES) is a monthly seminar series organised by  called. It is an initiative of PhD candidates and postdocs at Wageningen University to organize a continuing series of stimulating seminars on contemporary topics in evolution and ecology. We aim to bring together different groups at Wageningen University using a variety of systems, but with a common interest in evolutionary and ecological questions. For this series we invite researchers from all over the world that have leading roles in their field. After the talk there will be drinks for an informal discussion and a dinner in town with the speaker. Preceding each talk a Master Class can be attended. The Master Class is organized for interested PhD and MSc students. In the Master Class the attendants have the possibility to meet the speaker of the seminar and have a discussion based on recent papers suggested by the speaker. The Master classes are a good possibility to get acquainted with hot topics in ecology and evolutionary biology and to learn to discuss these topics with leading scientists in the field. MSc students can get credits for the Master Class. The seminars are held every 3rd Thursday of the month from 16:00 to 17:00. For more information click here.

Plant-Soil Interactions

The Plant and Soil Interactions discussion group offers a platform to discuss the current and cutting edge research in plant and soil science. Meetings are aimed at facilitating networking and collaboration between young scientists researching many aspects of how soil and plants interact. Topics of the meetings are related to plant and soil research and are chosen according to the current interests of the group, e.g. topics involving nutrient and carbon cycling, plant interactions with soil biota or connections between the above and belowground communities. Meetings have a varying format which is chosen to fit the topic: e.g. debate on experimental set ups and scientific methods used in plant and soil science, lectures and discussion with invited speakers, or critical review of current literature. We aim to create a place that facilitates the exchange of knowledge, experience and feedback between young researchers in plant and soil science. Our discussion group has its own website, on which you can find the agenda with upcoming meetings, as well as other details about the discussion group. The link is What do you want to discuss?
Contact us by email at:

Climate change - Soil-water-atmosphere Interactions - "CSI Wageningen"

The focus of this PhD discussion group is on soil-water-atmosphere interactions related to climate change. This includes processes causing, counteracting and resulting from climate change, e.g. greenhouse gas emission, carbon sequestration, or the effects of permafrost melting. Research interests span across various time and spatial scales, and go from field and laboratory studies to method development and mechanistic modelling.
For more information, contact Steve Crittenden or Richard Fuchs

Modelling and Statistics Network (MSN)

The discussion group aims at generating discussion on statistical methods and modelling concepts. By stimulating these discussions we intend to encourage PhD candidates to share ideas, explore new methods, or to discuss and seek help to specific problems that they face in their research. Meetings are held six times a year and are organised by two MSN-members. Meetings can consist of two parts. In the first part, there will be a presentation by a PhD candidate or an expert. An expert in a specific field(s) can be invited based on the interest of the participants. In the second hour of the meeting there can be a 'round-table' discussion where everyone can raise modelling or statistics issues he is stuck with and hopefully this discussion delivers a huge contribution to your research. Also, visits to labs in Wageningen or other places are possible, PE&RC has funds available for such trips. 
MSN members are expected to attend all meetings. The group focuses on methods used in research and not so much on the topic itself. Therefore, this group is useful for anyone that uses Mathematics and Statistics in his or her research. Topics for the presentations and discussions are chosen by the participants. Examples of past topics are: Modelling and parameter estimation, Optimization techniques and learning algorithms, Uncertainty, validation and calibration of models of a complex world, GIS, Spatial Methods, scaling issues and Remote Sensing. The discussion group is mainly meant for PhD candidates (at any stage of their research) but is open for anyone who is interested, post-docs in particular.
If you would like to join our group you can send an email to the coordinators of this group: Alexandre Wadoux ( or Luc Steinbuch (

R Users Meeting

The R Users Meeting is a monthly meeting for people working with R. PhD and MSc students, as well as staff members, both beginners as well as advanced R users are welcome. The meeting offers an opportunity to help each other with specific questions and exchange ideas. In each meeting a specific topic is discussed by demonstrating and discussing examples of R functions and example data. The second part of each meeting is reserved for short questions on R codes and offers opportunity to get advice on your R code and how to fix or improve it. The meetings are hands-on, so please try to run the code and prepare your questions prior to the meeting. Also, bring your laptop to the meeting. For more information and to participate, please contact the R users meeting organizers (

Sustainable Intensification of Agricultural Systems (SIAS)

We are a multidisciplinary group of PhD candidates, aiming to deepen our knowledge in the field of sustainable intensification of agricultural systems. The discussion group deals with the application of production ecological principles and systems theory in rural contexts at different scales. Our focal topics are within the range of optimization of ecosystem services and resource use efficiency of crop and livestock production systems at different hierarchical levels and from a bio-physical and socio-economic perspective. We discuss not only the results of research, but also the methods used and the process researchers go through to obtain results, including learning from aborted attempts. The discussion group meets every two months for presentations and organizes two seminars and one field visit per year. Presentations are given by group members as well as invited speakers. We also welcome the active participation of university staff and MSc students in this discussion group.
For more information, go to or contact:

Discussion Group on Agriculture - Climate - Forests

This interdisciplinary discussion group on agriculture, forests and climate change focuses on interactions, trade-offs and synergies between agriculture, climate and forestry. It invites PhDs (but also postdocs and researchers) from Wageningen working on or interested in agriculture, climate, forests and food to discuss scientific papers and documents (including key publications, PhD proposals, theoretical innovations etc). In each session, organized around a central theme, one or more PhD researchers or external speakers present their work. more information about the scope and set-up of this discussion group can be found here.
The discussion group meets every 2 months, usually on a Tuesday. PhD candidates organize and plan the meetings, with input from the REDD@WUR and CSA@WUR networks. See the following websites and [CSA@WUR website] for details.
For more information, please contact Marijn Faling ( or Sarah Carter (

Modelling Plant Form and Function Discussion Group (PFF)

The Modelling Plant Form and Function discussion group focuses on the relationships between architecture of plants and crops and physiological processes determining plant functioning and yield in interaction with environmental factors. An important tool within this theme is functional-structural plant modelling (FSPM). FSPM explicitly captures the development over time of the 3D architecture or structure of plants as governed by physiological processes which, in turn, depend on environmental factors. Topics include, but are not limited to, plant growth and development in relation to environmental drivers, above and below-ground plant-plant interactions, resource foraging in monocultures and mixed-species stands, and plant-climate feedbacks. In our meetings, we address topics in the domain of plant form and function and FSPM, and provide the opportunity for the participants to discuss new results, experimental setups and modelling issues. Furthermore we organise short tutorial sessions in which a particular technique or method is demonstrated, tested by participants on their own data or model, and discussed.
For more information, please contact Jochem Evers (

Institute of Environmental Biology (IEB Utrecht) PhD Discussion Group

The discussion group is organized by the PhD council of the Institute of Environmental Biology (IEB) at the Utrecht University. PhD candidates working in this institute combine molecular biology, physiology and ecogenomics with plant, animal and microbial ecology at different organizational levels of life - from genes, cells and organisms to population communities and entire ecosystems. The meetings are organized four times a year in Utrecht to interconnect PhDs from the different research groups: Molecular Plant Physiology; Plant-Microbe Interactions; Plant Ecophysiology; Ecology and Biodiversity; Microbial Ecology and Animal Ecology. The aim of these meetings is to introduce and discuss the research of PhD candidates. The meetings are primarily focussed on PhDs working within the institute, but all other PhD candidates interested in the discussed topics are more than welcome.
For more information and participation, please contact Amber Heijboer (

B-Wise Bioinformatics Seminars

In Wageningen, a large number of researchers routinely apply state-of-the-art bioinformatics tools or develop novel algorithms to analyze their data. Through B-Wise, the Bioinformatics@Wageningen Seminar Series, we aim to bring people together on a regular basis to exchange ideas, discuss problems, present our research and learn from each other. Each first Tuesday of the month we meet over lunch (starting at 12.00), followed by two short scientific presentations on bioinformatics research in various groups.
For more information about this discussion group, please click here.

Wageningen Plant Microbiome Network

The Wageningen Plant Microbiome Network brings together scientists from all over Wageningen who are interested in the study of plant-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions in the plant microbiome. The network organizes seminars at a regular basis and occasionally also longer meetings. It involves scientists from both Wageningen University and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, and functions as a platform for discussions regarding both experimental and computational aspects of the analysis of plant microbiomes. Principal investigators, postdoctoral researchers, PhD students and MSc students are all welcome to attend the meetings.
For more information, please contact Marnix Medema (

Landscape Dynamics

The landscape is shaped by interacting physical, chemical and biological processes. These range from tectonic processes over millions of years to extreme events which change the landscape in a matter of seconds. The impact of humans on the landscape can be direct but also indirect, by affecting the natural processes. Therefore, understanding the landscape dynamics requires an interdisciplinary view ranging over multiple spatial and temporal scales. The discussion group ‘Landscape Dynamics’ focuses on the past, present and future dynamics of the physical landscape. During the proactive meetings, different themes will be introduced by a speaker and discussed using several propositions. Examples of themes are feedbacks between soil, water, atmosphere and vegetation, the human factor in earth sciences or the issue of up- and downscaling in modelling natural processes.
For more information, please contact Milan Teunissen van Manen ( or Marijn van der Meij (

Modelling & Simulation Discussion Group

In many fields of research, modelling and simulation are critical tools. As their popularity has grown, so has the discourse surrounding why and how they should be used. To help rationalise this debate, we are looking to provide a cross-institutional forum for discussing systems modelling and simulation, as well as the interpretation of simulation insights. Our areas of interest include: problem conceptualization and decomposition, choices in modelling paradigms, simulation verification and validation, model-based decision support methods. We welcome all modellers, regardless of experience or preferred modelling practice.
For further information, please contact Henry Payne ( or Patrick Steinmann (