On the occasion of its Dies Natalis (birthday), Hasselt University awarded an honorary degree to virologist Erika Vlieghe (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences). ‘A scientist at the top of her academic field, working tirelessly for disease prevention and society as a whole’, nominators Leen Popleu and Jeroen Van Der Hilst say.‘
Exceptional times bring out people’s exceptional abilities. And that’s certainly true for Professor Vlieghe’, Prof. Leen Popleu says, nominator of this honorary degree from the Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences. ‘The general public got to know Erika Vlieghe during the corona crisis as a determined and connecting doctor and person. Like no other, she succeeded in connecting science to the public and political playing field using plain language. Her attitude to life is to look for solutions.’
In his laudation for Erika Vlieghe, second nominator Prof. Jeroen Van Der Hilst looked back at the hate messages experts received during the corona pandemic. ‘There is no problem in disagreeing and having a debate based on facts and scientific arguments. But spreading unsubstantiated theories proved a breeding ground for extremism, resulting in online swearing and even death threats. With this honorary degree, we therefore express our deepest admiration and appreciation for what Erika Vlieghe meant for our country in the past and especially during the corona crisis’, Jeroen Van Der Hilst concludes.