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Unilever Research Prize 2015 for Biologist Flor Rhebergen

On December 4th, Flor Rhebergen received the 2015 Unilever Research prize for his study achievements at the IBL for his outstanding work in the field of Evolutionary Biology. Flor Rhebergen received the “Ovum” sculpture and was awarded €2.500.

Modifying asymmetric genitalia

Flor Rhebergen did his final research project at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center under supervision of Prof. Menno Schilthuizen. Rhebergen investigated the evolution of genital shape and its role in insect speciation: he found that experimental modification of asymmetric genitalia in Drosophila flies led to unstable coupling of the sexes during copulation.  Rhebergen did this research at the Institute Jacques Monod in Paris and went to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama for another internship on bats.

 ‘The Ovum’ sculpture

Flor Rhebergen and Menno Schilthuizen

Rhebergen received ‘The Ovum’ as award, a sculpture giving the impression of a hatching bird’s egg,  symbolizing the birth and emergence of new talent. In addition, he also received a cheque of €2.500 He reported to invest the prize money into his main hobby: observing and studying biodiversity in the Netherlands and  abroad. Flor Rhebergen: “For my main hobby I need good binoculars (bird watching) and a good microscope (identifying insect species), so I will use the money to buy a microscope and a better pair of binoculars than I currently have.”

More awards and career moves

Flor Rhebergen already received the Kees Bakker Award for the best bachelor student in ecological and evolutionary biology at Leiden University in 2012 and an IBL Travel Grant in 2013. He graduated earlier this year with the exceptional distinction “Summa Cum Laude” and has recently started a PhD research project at the University of Amsterdam.

About the Unilever Research Prize

Each year Unilever awards 13 students across the Netherlands for the excellent quality of their research conducted in the fields of chemistry, biotechnology, mechanical engineering, biology, agricultural science or social sciences at a Dutch University to stimulate promising young talents in their future development.


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