Tjisse van der Heide received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for Environmental Sciences 2012 for his research on the role of sea grasses and similar “ecosystem engineers” in the marine inter-tidal area.
Ecosystem engineers such as sea grasses and mussel banks are organisms that not only respond to environmental conditions but also greatly influence them themselves, thus creating suitable living conditions for themselves and for other species. Human action is putting ecosystem engineers under great pressure. Dr Van der Heide’s research is a major contribution to conservation biology. He made a positive impression on the jury as coordinator for the Wadden Sea Keys Project (Waddensleutels), a complex, large-scale research project concerning the ecological recovery of the Wadden Sea. The jury also sees Tjisse van der Heide as a role model for young researchers because of the quality of his work, his outreach activities, and his multidisciplinary approach.