I grew up on an organic dairy farm near National Park ‘The Weerribben’ in The Netherlands. Here I developed an interest in wildlife and ecology.
Human – wildlife interactions have always intrigued me. For my Bsc. degree in Animal Management I studied human-cattle interactions in parks (UK). I studied the behaviour of geese in relation to agricultural practices in Norway. And finally in New Zealand, I studied the effect of predator control on lizards.
So why not study mosquitoes? The ultimate human-wildlife interaction one can think of?
In 2002 I started as a technician working on the behavioural ecology of malaria mosquitoes and developed an automated tracking system in collaboration with Noldus IT and the Experimental Zoology group of Wageningen University & Research. In 2018 I obtained a PhD degree on the flight behaviour of host-seeking malaria mosquitoes.
It is a huge challenge to find ánd implement sustainable, effective control tools to combat disease transmitting mosquitoes. Studying their ecology and behaviour contributes to the innovation of vector control tools. Currently, the obtained knowledge is exploited in the design of mosquito traps and in how to prevent mosquitoes to enter houses. I am in the supervisory board of Premalbv, and we currently run a project for BOVA in Malawi.
After a busy day at work, I cycle home to our farmhouse near Nijmegen. Here I enjoy chopping wood, growing fruits and vegetables while observing local wildlife.
I have a lot of joint (student) projects with the Experimental Zoology group of Wageningen University. Some students decide to devote their life to catch mosquitoes and start their own company such as PreMal. Lab findings need to be tested or upscaled to field level. I highly value our partnerships in Malawi, Kenya , and Tanzania.