Wageningen University & Research graduate Maria Fernandéz de Bobadilla received the East-West Seed graduation award for Plant Sciences at the Royal Holland Society for Sciences and Humanities. Maria’s research focuses on how plants deal with their environment when affected by more than one stress.

Maria investigated how the poplar leaf rust fungus influences the composition of leaves of black poplar trees and how this influences the feeding behavior of caterpillar species. She used extensive chemical analytical techniques in combination with genetic analysis and research on the behavior of insects.

Jury member Prof. dr. ir. Francine Govers: “Maria’s research stood out on several aspects. Firstly, the level of complexity is high. Usually, graduates tend to research 1 plant and 1 pathogen. Maria chose a more complex approach by researching a combination of stresses and influences. Secondly, her analysis was very thorough, using a wide array of techniques including chemical analytical techniques, genetic analysis and research on the behavior of insects. Thirdly, her critical and thorough evaluation led to new hypotheses. We were happily surprised by the overall level of her research.”

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