I was born on the 9th of July 1973 in Stramproy, a village in the Dutch province of Limburg. Between 1985 and 1991 I attended pre-university education (VWO) at the Philips van Horne SG college in Weert. I graduated with distinction in the subjects of mathematics-B, physics, chemistry, biology, economics-I, and Dutch, English, and French. Next, I studied Applied Physics at the Eindhoven University of Technology. After the first two years, my subjects mostly concerned fluid dynamics; I did an apprenticeship on turbulence, and my graduation thesis concerced chaotic advection in quasi-2D fluid flows. My graduation project consisted of both experimental and numerical work relating to vortex mechanics and automated analysis of video footage of flows in fluid tanks. Immediately after obtaining my engineers title (equivalent to M.Sc.), I subsequently completed the university’s program to become a 1st-degree physics teacher.
In 1999 and 2000 I worked as a researcher at the Research & Development department of Océ Technologies in Venlo, an international producer of digital printers and copiers and developer of information technology and document management solutions. Here, I initially studied the cooling behaviour of hot-melt inkjet droplets as well as the modulation transfer characteristics of fiber-optic print heads. For half a year, I studied general law and patent law and worked as a junior patent officer; I did not finish this 4-year program as I yearned for a more technical/scientific environment.
In February 2001 I therefore started as a Ph.D.-student in the field of auditory functional MRI: the use of functional neuroimaging of the brain to gain insight into the neural function of hearing. This project was a collaboration between the ENT and radiology departments of the Maastricht Academic Hospital (azM; now MUMC+). In addition, the faculties of Medicine of the Maastricht University and Biomedical Technology of the Eindhoven University of Technology were involved. I performed various studies, on the one hand to develop methods to investigate hearing using a noisy MRI scanner, and on the other hand to apply these methods in order to gain insight in fundamental neural principles that underlie human hearing. The latter I did in both normal hearing participants and patients with hearing disorders like unilateral deafness or tinnitus. The project eventually resulted in the defense of my graduation thesis entitled “functional MRI of the central auditory system” in 2006, which provided me with a doctoral title cum laude.
I subsequently started work as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Groningen, where I continued the same research in a more independent role in collaboration with prof. Pim van Dijk and his lab. In 2007, I spent a year at dr. Jennifer Melcher’s lab at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston (US), affiliated with Harvard Medical School. Here I studied the interaction between brain areas and started to employ advanced data-driven analysis methods that I would expand on in the subsequent years.
After having returned to Groningen in 2008, I was awarded a prestigious 3-year VENI-grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). I used this to perform a scientific study that initially continued on my American work. During the course of that project, my focus gradually shifted to the mapping of tonotopic frequency representations in the cerebral cortex. Apart from deriving some of the most detailed and comprehensive tonotopic maps in humans at that time, I worked on methodological improvements regarding data acquisition and analysis. Furthermore, I was the first to explicitly investigate the tonotopic reorganisation in tinnitus patients by means of functional MRI.
In 2012 I moved to Nottingham (UK), where various research groups with excellent reputations in the field of neuroimaging as well as hearing are based. Here I optimised and validated the imaging and analysis techniques that I started to develop earlier. I collaborated with prof. Deborah Hall, among others, writing review papers and publishing a special edition of the renowned journal Hearing Research, which resulted in an editorial position for a period of time. I also joined the pan-European COST-TINNET initiative that aimed to improve the collaboration between European research groups in relation to tinnitus. After a half-year extension, I ended my position to return to the Netherlands in 2015.
For one year, I worked as a junior clinical physicist at the University Medical Center Groningen. Here I consulted patients in the audiology department and learned about clinical management. However, this position proved to be too medical for my taste, and I started to miss the technological challenge. This led me to make a career change and return back to education by joining the Bio-informatics group at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences as a senior lecturer in 2016. Here, I taught bachelor-level courses on statistics, data analysis, machine learning and programming. Also, I developed a new course module on deep learning in the specialisation on High-Throughput and High-Performance Computing. In addition, I initiated research proposals for the team and coordinated numerous student projects in the aforementioned specialisation. In 2018, a master-level program was started on Data Science for Life Sciences, in which a play a pivotal role in a series of courses on Data Science.