I was born on 13 June 1987 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Already at an early age, I became interested in nature, especially birds, which resulted in a membership of the Dutch Youth Organisation for Nature Studies (NJN) at the age of 12. During my years with the NJN, I started to look at other species groups besides birds (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies) and I developed a special affinity for mammal research.
The biology student
After graduating with a gymnasium diploma at the Goois Lyceum in Bussum, it was a logical step for me to study Biology, first at the University of Amsterdam, and later at Wageningen University, where I obtained an MSc in Ecology (cum laude) in 2011. During my MSc, I specialised in animal ecology with MSc theses on the spatial behaviour of lions, zebra and wildebeest in Welgevonden, South Africa (supervised by dr Fred de Boer at the Resource Ecology Group (REG) of Wageningen University) and two theses on my favourite animal, the pine marten: one on variation in fur patterns of pine martens (supervised by dr Frank van Langevelde at REG) and one on the population genetics of the Dutch pine marten population using non-invasive methods (supervised by dr Fons Debets at the Laboratory of Genetics of Wageningen University and drs Hugh Jansman at the Animal ecology group of Alterra).
(Voluntary) mammal research
In my free time, I became a member of the Dutch Pine Marten Working Group (2006-2017) and a member and board member of the Dutch Small Mustelid Working Group (2008-2017), showing my love for small carnivores. After obtaining my MSc, I worked as a freelancer with my own company doing fieldwork and data analyses on mammals for Alterra and the Dutch Mammal Society. But my true mission has always been to work at a university to combine my passions for research and education. Therefore, I was thrilled when I was asked by prof. dr Herbert Prins to start a PhD project on the ecology of ticks and tick-borne diseases at Wageningen University, which I started in March 2012.
The PhD candidate
During my work as a PhD candidate within the ‘Shooting the messenger’ project under the supervision of prof. dr Herbert Prins and dr Sip van Wieren at the Resource Ecology Group of Wageningen University, I was an organising member of the Wageningen Evolution and Ecology Seminars (WEES), and the second and third Tick Tactics symposia, giving PhD candidates from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany the opportunity to present their work on ticks and tick-borne diseases for an enthusiastic group of scientists and public health officials. The ‘Shooting the messenger’ project was a collaboration between the Laboratory of Entomology and the Resource Ecology Group of Wageningen University and the Centre for Infectious Disease Control at the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) and was funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The most important results from my work in the ‘Shooting the messenger’ project are presented in my thesis.
While finishing my PhD thesis, I obtained a personal grant from the ‘De Vos’ foundation to perform an extra study within the ‘Shooting the messenger’ project on the interaction between ticks, tick-borne pathogens and the innate immune response of wild rodents, which I performed in collaboration with dr Kevin Matson at the Resource Ecology Group of Wageningen University, and dr Miriam Maas and dr Hein Sprong at the Centre for Infectious Disease Control at the RIVM.
After PhD life
After my PhD I worked as a teacher in Wildlife Management at van Hall Larenstein, University of Applied Sciences for a few months. I was mainly involved in the development of new lectures and practicals and a course in wildlife research techniques. After that, I took a big step and moved to Umeå in Sweden, where I did a post-doc at the department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies (VFM) of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) with dr Joris Cromsigt within the Scandcam and Beyond Moose projects, both funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket).
In October 2019, I got a permanent position as researcher at VFM, focusing on the use of new technologies and citizen science to study wildlife communities. Next to my task as researcher, I teach in two MSc courses within our master program. Furthermore, I am responsible for PhD education at the department and one of the two coordinators of the research school Ecology & Society (ECOS), which organises multidisciplinary courses, workshops and seminars on the interface between ecology, sociology and economics.
In my free time I like to be creative as a musician, dancer, writer and photographer.