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Pavlina Nanou wins the 2020 Marina van Damme Grant

At the celebration of the Dies Natalis, the Twente University Fund awarded the Marina van Damme Grant to Pavlina Nanou, a former student of chemical engineering. The runner-up award went to former psychology student Annemieke Konijnendijk. As a tribute to Marina van Damme’s commitment to the young female alumni, and as a belated gift for her 90th birthday, it has been announced that the apple orchard next to ‘De Boerderij’ will henceforth be known as the ‘Marina van Damme apple orchard’. 

Pavlina now works as scientist and project manager at TNO Energy Transition (the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research) and as Operational Manager at TORWASH BV. In this position, she is responsible for scaling up TORWASH technology and introducing it to the market. This unique processing technology makes it possible to reduce the mountains of waste created by sewage treatment plants by 85%. 

Pavlina has successfully led the project to scale up TORWASH technology from the lab to pilot scale. TORWASH BV has been a spin-off company since January 2020. In this setting, Pavlina is responsible for the further scaling up to a demonstration factory, which is being set up in cooperation with a number of partners. Pavlina would like to use the money from the grant to improve her business acumen and knowledge of all aspects of running a company and attracting investment capital. She will follow a programme at Nyenrode Business University in order to do this. 

Pavlina (39) has dual Greek and Dutch nationality. She completed a Master’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of Twente in 2007. After achieving her PhD in 2013, she went to work at TNO in Petten. Since May 2018, she has held the position of Technical Lead responsible for Biomass Upgrading to Fuels. Since January she is COO of TORWASH BV.

Outstanding technical expertise

The jury was deeply impressed by Pavlina’s technical expertise and her ambition of using her technical knowledge and experience to achieve a more sustainable world. The jury would like to support her in taking her management skills and other business skills to the next level.

Runner-up award for Annemieke Konijnendijk

The runner-up award of €2,500 goes to former psychology student, Annemieke Konijnendijk. She obtained her PhD at the University of Twente in 2018. Annemieke’s ambition is to bring scientific insights into healthcare practice in order to help people live longer and healthier lives. Annemieke will use this runner-up grant to expand her knowledge in the field of epidemiology. The jury believes that this runner-up grant will help Annemieke to make a good start on her ambition of working in mental health care, for example.

Marina van Damme apple orchard

As a gesture of gratitude for Marina van Damme’s commitment, the University of Twente planted a Groninger-Kroon apple tree in the orchard next to the old Faculty Club in 2020 on the occasion of Mrs van Damme’s 90th birthday. The apple orchard now also bears her name. This is in reference to the annual meeting ‘under the apple tree’ that the grant winners of the four universities of technology, united in the Marina van Damme network, hold each year in the Marina van Damme orchard. An orchard of Groninger-Kroon apple trees.

The Marina van Damme Grant

The Marina van Damme Grant is awarded to successful former female students of the University of Twente. The grant is awarded by the Twente University Fund and has been made possible by a donation from Dr M.A. van Damme-Van Weele. Ms Van Damme obtained the first doctorate to be awarded by the former Twente Technical College (now the University of Twente) in 1965. The grant is intended to support the career advancement of talented and ambitious female alumni of the University of Twente and help them achieve new ambitions. The accompanying award consists of a sum of money (€9,000), a certificate and a work of art, created by Mohana van den Kroonenberg. This year, a total of 23 candidates were nominated. The prize was awarded for the 18th time.

drs. M.M.J. van Hillegersberg - Hofmans (Martine)
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