Assistant Professor of Mathematics
My research focuses on random interacting particle systems and critical phenomena. Randomness accounts for uncertainties and lack of information. An example of critical phenomena would be the phase transition as water turns to ice. Fundamental research is all about understanding nature through models for chemical, physical and biological processes. As mathematicians we provide a language to explain these laws. You could say we are the linguists of fundamental research…
You need fundamental research to make progress in any domain.
You need fundamental research to make progress in any domain. Think of how coding theory for encryption software is based on algebra. My job has real societal relevance, it’s just not always visible. Making a breakthrough can take a long time, but I never feel rushed at Utrecht University. I love my job; doing beautiful mathematics and teaching this to the next generation. I have a lot of freedom and I can choose my collaborators. I am paid for understanding. It really is a dream come true.
The atmosphere here is warm and familiar and my colleagues are open, helpful and really supportive. They’re modest… but passionate about mathematics. Their insights are vital to my research. To do fundamental research you need to feel like you’re on a playground, a place where you have the freedom to experiment and to fail. The faculty gives us this freedom, they understand that for us it’s a passion rather than a job. And they provide us with loads of the old-fashioned blackboards that mathematicians love!
The faculty gives us this freedom, they understand that for us it’s a passion rather than a job.
I am very enthusiastic about the Centre for Complex Systems Studies, where researchers from different areas can collaborate and connect. It’s a space for me to meet new colleagues from natural sciences and to use interdisciplinary collaborations to learn more. To give an example, some of my work overlaps probability theory, analysis and statistical physics. At Utrecht University we are lucky to have experts in different areas who are all working together in an intimate and connected environment.
I haven’t been here that long but students are already knocking on my door. It’s struck me how much the teachers care about their students here. The students are really involved, they sit on committees and they even get involved in course design. Every course is different, teachers adapt their teaching to each class and prepare specific, personalized materials. This is what inspirational education is all about.