Within the field of biology, I am particularly interested in arthropods. A small booklet, Matty Berg and Hay Wijnhoven's wonderful identification key for the terrestrial isopods (woodlice) of the Netherlands, played a central role in my life for some years. Later on, I discovered the fascinating world of Diptera, at first inspired and motivated by the atlas project for Dutch Syrphidae, which took off around the year 2001. At the same time I became interested in the origin and diversification of life as is represented in the phylogenies of for instance the Tree of Life website.

I started studying biology in 2003, at the young but not so tender age of 36. I believe the study of life, its fundamental processes, its history and the diversity of life forms, is one of the intellectually most rewarding things one can do. I am very satisfied with my BSc study in Utrecht, where I found both the lectures and my student colleagues highly motivated and inspiring. I wrote my bachelor's thesis on the origin of the insects among the crustaceans. A Dutch summary of this paper was later published in Etomologische Berichten. Subsequently I did a MSc at the university of Amsterdam, because when I started there in 2005, there were still some people working on animal phylogeny and phylogeography there. (Unfortunately, this is a less fashionable branch of biology for which there is hardly any infrastructure left in the Netherlands today.) The MSc training consisted mostly of two internships, both on phylogeography using molecular methods. One internship was supervised by Miguel Vences and dealt with Malagasy reptiles. I haven't come closer to these animals than tissue samples and DNA sequences, but the work resulted in a nice paper. The other internship was closer to my personal interest. It dealt with craneflies (Tipulidae) of the Mediterranean region and was supervised by Herman de Jong. The questions of the species group we studies turned out to be complex and hard to resolve despite a lot of work and data. Therefore, this work is still ongoing.

During my biology studies, I could only keep some small part-time and temporary positions in linguistics, working on a database project and teaching. After I graduated in 2007, I needed to get back to the labour marked in full, and I found employment as an 'assistant coordinator' and 'assistant manager' in two European-funded projects on research infrastructure led by the University of Amsterdam. This is a working environment quite different from research itself. This work was fascinating in its own way. I travelled a lot, met many friendly people, and learned some useful skills. Perhaps the most important thing I learned during this episode is to think in terms of opportunities - even though I kept my inclination towards scepticism. In this serving and largely administrative function, I missed the contact with real objects, and the opportunity to discover things and create my own small projects. I applied for a PhD position and the Natural History Museum in Oslo, where I was appointed in 2010. This position enables me to work again with and on insects. While I continue some of my earlier work on craneflies with Herman de Jong, most of the Oslo work deals with stoneflies (Plecoptera). This is a little-known order of relatively primitive flying insects whose immature stages require fresh water with high oxygen content. It is noteworthy that pollution and changes in land use have eradicated almost the complete stonefly fauna of the Netherlands, while many species can still be found in the capital of Norway.



Diptera Faunistics