Universiteit Leiden

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Martina Vijver appointed as professor of Ecotoxicology

Martina G. Vijver has been appointed professor of Ecotoxicology at the Institute of Environmental Sciences of Leiden University with effect from 1 December 2017.

Environmental scientist Martina Vijver is known worldwide as an expert in environmental risk assessments. Vijver studies the behaviour and effects that chemicals and nanomaterials cause in a variety of invertebrates and fish larvae. As project leader within a European research program, Vijver is responsible for identifying the ecological effects of nanoparticles after long-term exposure.

'Living Lab'

Part of the research work of Vijvers’ group takes place in the 'Living Lab'. This research facility was created by crowdfunding and consists of 36 test ditches and mesocosms in which experiments can be conducted. 'Fieldwork in a controlled environment in combination with laboratory work is exciting and necessary,' explains Vijver. The results of laboratory research do not always appear to be repeated in the environment. 'It can happen that a chemical in the laboratory has a deadly effect on water fleas, while the organisms in a natural environment with this chemical are still alive. And vice versa. Fieldwork is therefore necessary to get a complete picture of all the interactions in a system.'

Professor of Ecotoxicology

With effect from 1 December 2017, Vijver will be appointed professor at the Leiden Institute of Environmental Sciences with retroactive effect. In addition, to doing her research, Vijver supervises dozens of PhD students in this role. Of course, she is also involved in teaching and guiding students, particularly within the Bachelor's and Master's programmes of Biology and the Leiden University College.

Safer molecules and particles

In recent decades, society has become increasingly aware that environmental risks are an important product of our industrialisation. The scientific research results from Vijver’s group are therefore often translated into policy, or used to develop models. 'It is different with the new nanomaterials; with our research into exposure, absorption and effects, we are working alongside industrial developments,' says Vijver. As a result, our research outcomes can play a guiding role to achieve more sustainable and safer products and materials, benefitting the environment and human health.


After her PhD in 2005 at VU University Amsterdam, Vijver became assistant professor at Leiden University. She has more than 85 peer-reviewed publications to her name that are quoted worldwide. She contributes to two different educational textbooks in the field of environmental sciences. She obtained a VENI, VIDI and several European research grants. In addition, she received various prizes, including the World Cultural Council in 2017 for the dissemination of scientific research results. She is (co-) founder of the Researchers in Science for Equality network, a platform for female scientists at the Faculty of Science.

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