Year Review 2021

Marion Koopmans receives KWR Honorary Fellowship

Marion Koopmans, Professor of Virology, receives the KWR Honorary Fellowship 2020. She was given the award during a festive ceremony followed by a mini-symposium on wastewater research into SARS-CoV-2 RNA. KWR has awarded the annual Honorary Fellowship since 2015 to individuals who have distinguished themselves in furthering the public and collective ideas and values that KWR supports. Koopmans has been granted the honorific title in recognition of her huge commitment to connecting science and professional practice during the corona pandemic.

Four considerations underlie KWR management’s decision to honour Marion Koopmans with the Honorary Fellowship.

  • Her extremely clear communication, via the social media and news programmes such as ‘Op1’, about the importance of wastewater monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Her deployment of her network and her bringing together of the water and health players in the area of research and development, including Erasmus MC, RIVM and government ministries.
  • Her support of the Rijnmond project, in which the relationship was shown, at a neighbourhood level over the entire surveillance pyramid, between the rates of infection for SARS-CoV-2: from sewage, test lanes, general practitioners through to hospitals.
  • As a member of KWR’s External Scientific Advisory Council, her commitment to ‘Bridging Science to Practice’, exactly like that of all of our other researchers. This was very evident to us right from the start of the corona pandemic in February 2020.

Marion Koopmans receives KWR Honorary Fellowship

Marion Koopmans

The research of Marion Koopmans, who is associated with Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, focusses on the transmission of viruses from animals to humans (zoonoses), and on large-scale transmission between humans (outbreaks and pandemics). To map these contamination paths, she uses the genetic information contained in the viruses in the form of DNA or RNA. Koopmans has contributed significantly to controlling outbreaks of Ebola, Zika and Corona viruses. She is a global leader in research into viral transmission and ensures that the findings are implemented. In mapping the contamination paths, Koopmans makes use of the genetic variation in viruses. She is the initiator of the worldwide NoroNet network for research into noroviruses: the infamous pathogens that cause stomach flu. As an adviser to the Health Council and the WHO, she plays an important role in the control of communicable diseases.

Honorific title

For the KWR community, the KWR Honorary Fellows represent a source of knowledge, expertise and experience that can be consulted whenever appropriate. In general, our researchers have already been working with these special individuals for a number of years. The KWR Honorary Fellows are appointed for life. ‘Honorary Fellow’ is an honorific title: there are no formal responsibilities connected to the fellowship for the recipient.

Ceremony and mini symposium

Due to the corona measures, the ceremony this year was held entirely digitally.


  • 15:00 – Welcome by Dragan Savić, CEO, KWR.
  • 15:05 – Introduction and presentation of Honorary Fellowship 2020 by Idsart Dijkstra, Manager, Knowledge Group Water at KWR.
  • 15:15 – ‘Pandemic Radar’ – talk by Marion Koopmans.
  • 15:45 – ‘Sewage as mirror of society’ – talk by Gertjan Medema, Principal Microbiologist at KWR.
  • 16:15 – ‘Sewage data used by the surveillance team of public health service Rotterdam-Rijnmond: experiences and future potential’ – talk by Ewout Fanoy, medical doctor in Communicable Disease Control at the public health service (GGD) Rotterdam-Rijnmond
  • 16:45 – Final questions and mini symposium wrap-up.


KWR’s Press Officer is Hans Ruijgers, email or mobile 0621822812.