Seeing the gigantic jaws and faceted eyes of a beetle through a stereomicroscope during a biology class, opened a new, fascinating world for me. Insects have an amazing impact on our daily life, both positive and negative. Inspired by the lectures of Prof. Willem Takken, I decided that I wanted to make an impact by helping to unravel the mysteries of blood feeding arthropods and the diseases they transmit.
Throughout the years, I’ve had the opportunity to live and work in a variety of inspiring places. From the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya, to the mysterious Buddhist temples in Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand, and the beautiful Indian summers in Ithaca, New York. Now I’ve landed back in the place where I began: Wageningen.
In my research and teaching at the university, I try to pay attention to my four ‘I’s’: inspiration, innovation, implementation and integration. Being inspired by the biology of blood feeding and using that curiosity to find innovative solutions for vector control. Of course, it does not stop there. I would like to implement my outcomes to those areas where it matters most, and integrate new solutions for better health.
I collaborate with several groups within Wageningen University (Gorben Pijlman – Virology, Marijn Poortvliet – Strategic communication, Arnold van Vliet – Environmental systems analysis, to name a few), as well as with academia outside of Wageningen (e.g. University Medical Center, Amsterdam and Radboud University, Nijmegen). Also government (Dutch Institute for Public Health and the Environment; Center for Monitoring of Vectors) and non-government organisations (e.g. Médécins Sans Frontiers) are part of research consortia within my team. Internationally, I’m involved in several European projects (ZIKAlliance, Infravec2) and we carry out various projects in Africa (Rwanda, Malawi) and South-America.