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Down-to-earth biology student wins Young Talent Award

Gijs van der Velden has one of the best study results in his first college year of all science studies. With that, he won the Young Talent Incentive award and received 500 euros of the Koninklijke Hollandse Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (KHMW). The biology student remains quite nonchalantly. ‘Of course, I am proud of it, but I don’t feel like a real young talent,’ he says matter-of-factly.

Gijs van der Velden

It was a big surprise for Van der Velden when he received an e-mail about winning the award. ‘I was amazed because this is the first time I experienced anything like this. I did not even know I was nominated! But I do feel very honored.’ He does not know why he won, although he has a suspicion. ‘I don’t want to advertise it,’ he says shyly. ‘But in the first year, I haven’t received a mark below an 8.’

Live award show

The award show took place via live stream this year. The KHMW took care of independent judges, and made it possible to give away the award by collaborating with different companies and institutions. Enza Zaden enables the award for the first-year students. Van der Velden received his Young Talent Incentive Award from him, together with four other students of Leiden.

Following lectures with extra stops

Van der Velden was not hindered by digital education during this first year, compared to many other students. ‘Of course, the biology course has a lot of practicals, so I saw fellow students pretty often compared to other studies. And watching lectures from home does have its advantages. My tactic is to pause a lecture often, so I can make a summary as I watch it at intervals.’ As the exams got closer, he flipped through the given presentations and his notes. ‘Then I was ready.’

Studying is an obligation, but it does not feel that way. 

What will happen with the 500 euros, he still does not know. ‘Buying Christmas presents?’ he jokes. Likewise, he is uncertain of what he will do after his studies. ‘Biology is very comprehensive and everything is interesting. Even though I think practicals are most interesting. And during the first course of this second year, evolution biology, we zoomed in on how DNA develops. That was awesome too.’
For now, studying appeals to him. ‘You still have quite some free time, compared to when you would have a job. And studying is enjoyable and intriguing. Of course, it is an obligation, but it does not feel like that. Learning is fun.’

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