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CML talents receive Stans Award

Each year, CML gives out three Stans Awards. The Institute's staff could nominate students and colleagues for the prices of best student thesis, best PhD paper and best outreach from the past year. Jury members Jan Willem Erisman and Nicole de Voogd made the final decision.

Best student thesis 2022

Last year's master student Environmental Biology Eva Sievers won the student award. During the awards she briefly introduced us to her thesis: ‘Place-based knowledge transfer in a local-to-global and knowledge-to-action context: Conceptual boundaries, key steps & facilitative factors.’


Rapid global change threatens to outstrip our efforts of establishing a sustainable stewardship of social-ecological systems (SES) at the global scale. Yet, significant gaps remain in terms of effectiveness of global sustainability initiatives. Place-based research can play an important role in closing these gaps by providing complementary knowledge. However, knowledge transfer of place-based research is still a major challenge. This thesis analysed place-based knowledge transfer in a local-to-global and knowledge-to-action context.

By employing an iterative and exploratory research approach of alternating literature reviews and interview rounds, the research resulted in three main outputs. First, it provides conceptual clarification on knowledge transfer in comparison to seven other place-based knowledge movement processes. Second, it identifies four key steps that constitute place-based knowledge transfer in a local-to-global and knowledge-to-action context: 1) Place-based knowledge production, 2) Knowledge synthesis to produce usable knowledge, 3) Knowledge use at the global scale and 4) Revision of knowledge used to record lessons learnt. Third, it suggests five concrete factors and shows how their involvement enhances place-based knowledge transfer: a) Bridging organisations, b) Knowledge brokers, c) Boundary organisations, d) Institutionalisation of knowledge governance and e) Polycentric governance systems.

The study identifies a major trade-off between local-to-global and knowledge-to-action transfer and discusses possible ways forward. To account for the long-term value of place-based knowledge transfer, science and policy need to take a more long-term perspective that fosters learning over knowing, allocates resources accordingly and designs institutions in support of such a paradigm shift.

Best PhD paper 2022

Xiaoyang Zhong won the prize for best PhD paper with his work called: ‘Increasing material efficiencies of buildings to address the global sand crisis'.


There is a rapidly unfolding sand supply crisis in meeting growing material needs for infrastructure. We find a 45% increase in global building sand use from 2020 to 2060 under a middle-of-the-road baseline scenario, with a 300% increase across low-and-lower-middle-income regions and a slight decrease in higher-income regions. Half of this demand may be avoidable using several material efficiency strategies in concert. International cooperation is  essential for addressing vulnerabilities and inequalities.

Read the full publication here.

Best outreach 2022

This year two brothers won the Best Outreach prize. Kevin & Marvin Groen published the book ‘The Wild Wild East’ about their nature and adventure trip in Eastern Europe. So far they have sold over 2.000 books.

Summary of the book

Adventure is for everyone. For three months, biologists Marvin and Kevin Groen traveled through Eastern Europe in their red camper, looking for plants, animals, the most beautiful nature parks, but above all: the wilderness. They came to beautiful deserted places and went bouldering, kayaking, climbing, hiking, cycling, snowboarding and snow kiting. They camped on an endless lake or slept in an igloo on a mountain top with a fantastic view. And yes, they came face to face with a bear. Go with the twins to Germany, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary and discover the special nature in the unknown, wild Europe.

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