How long have you worked at the Uni? What does your role involve?
I have been here since November 2012, and my role involves research and teaching.
What would you most like to achieve while at the University?
It’s hard to say as there is no well-defined end to my research, but I definitely want to “win” at it. I want to get to the bottom of things. My work is logic and proof theory. The question I ask is “what is a proof really?” - the essential information that is contained in a mathematical proof. And when I know that I will be happy!
Name one thing that makes you feel proud to work at the University of Bath?
It is subtle things, I very much like our Mathematical Foundations Group. There is a good deal of academic freedom in our Group and our Department. There has been a lot of freedom in the direction of research and hiring practices compared to stories you hear about other places.
You are one of the few people who has taken up the University’s Shared parental leave scheme – can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Taking care of a child especially at such a young age is an experience you don’t want to miss. I don’t do this because it is easy, and I don’t do it because it is fun or a holiday – because that isn’t always the case.
I was naïve when we had our first child because I thought I could do some work on the side, I thought it’d be easy! But it turned out to be completely impossible to do work while taking care of our baby.
This experience has taught me a lot about children, about people, about life. It has given me a much closer relationship with my children than I would have had otherwise.
Taking parental leave is something that should be completely natural for partners if we are aspiring to gender equality. For that reason some Nordic countries make it very attractive to do so. And I think it should be exactly like that here.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I didn’t really have any plans, but in primary school I was teased, and they called me “Professor” – so that is my aspiration now. Just to prove them I can do it!
Where is your favourite holiday destination and why?
I like to go somewhere new every time, so whatever is my favourite destination, after I have been there it isn’t any more. My favourite holidays were not necessarily the ones to the nicest places but the ones where the most interesting things happened. I have been to a few places where you would not think of going such as Bosnia, Moldova and a non-tourist destination in Brazil.
On our trip to Bosnia, we did a day of voluntary work clearing an orchard, and suddenly we found an unexploded mortar grenade. Our local friend brought it to the police station, in his rucksack, which wasn’t the safest thing to do.
Those holidays are my favourite ones to look back on, because everything was unexpected and raw.
When are you happiest?
When my kids are in bed… no! I am happiest when I am reading books with my kids. At eight months, my youngest sits on my lap, and the fun thing to do is to pick books you can do some interaction with. For example, in the book about wind I blow in her face, and she loves that sort of thing! There is a book about a horse, and she rides on my knee, and I throw her in the air at the end when everybody falls off the horse and she loves that.
My eldest speaks both English and Dutch. Her Dutch is a little more advanced than her English but it is fairly close. And she has started to correct our English! Especially our pronunciation.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
I am not sure if I want to meet people I look up to, because they might disappoint. For instance, some of the great logicians, whose work everything is still based on in proof theory, turned out to be Nazis. There are people you admire for their scientific breakthroughs and their sheer brilliance, but when you look at their personal life or personal beliefs you may not agree with them. It is very hard to separate those two.
Tell us your favourite joke
This is a logic joke…
Would you like tea or coffee?