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Introducing Jochem Huijben

In this series, we introduce you to CropXR colleagues. Who are they, what do they do, and why are they passionate about their CropXR mission?

Name: Jochem Huijben

What is your CropXR role?
I am a PhD candidate.

Can you describe this role in a nutshell?
My PhD is part of the Crop-XR potato satellite program. In this program we try to prepare the Dutch potato industry for future challenges. My goal is to find potato traits that can help optimize future potato varieties. The focus is on traits that enable cooperation with the soil microbiome. Many bacteria in the soil are pathogens for plants. However, there are also many bacteria that help the plant in a variety of ways. If potato plants improve their ability to collaborate with those bacteria, this can be a great resource for agriculture.

As a PhD candidate my day-to-day tasks are relatively straightforward: I dive into my research, I analyze data, and I write articles to share our findings. Additionally, I have taken on the responsibility of maintaining the Sharepoint of the potato CropXR program. Don’t forget to share your data!

Why are you driven to contribute to the CropXR project?
With the risk of sounding cliché, I think the CropXR project is an immense opportunity for both academics and industrial partners. The amount of people, the resources and the ambition are incomparable. This creates amazing opportunities. If we as societies want to revolutionize Dutch agriculture, institutes like CropXR might be able to fuel such changes. I think it might be one of the best initiatives to be of part.

The ambition of CropXR is incomparable

What is the main challenge you face?
With the scale of CropXR being as immense as it is, communication and data sharing are likely big challenges. Think of keeping up to date with all relevant research projects or knowing the lines of communication for the right resources. One of the biggest challenges is to develop a framework for this.

What do you personally hope to achieve within CropXR in the next (10) years?
The first step will be to finish my PhD. By that time, I will have extensive knowledge of potato breeding and soil microbiomes. I have already met many wonderful people. I expect to have met many more by that time. After my PhD I expect to remain part of CropXR or Utrecht University, as we will just have gained steam by then. With an ever-expanding network and a wealth of knowledge, I believe we have endless possibilities.