You probably ended up on this page because you were wondering who I am, what I do, why I have a weblog, or what our purpose is in life. I will try to answer these questions below. If you have more questions, feel free to contact me by email.
Who am I?
Good question. Maybe you read something on my website, and now you want to know whether it was a fact, an expert opinion, an ordinary opinion or plain bullshit. I will try to answer this question, with the slight risk of appearing to be a boring person with no social life.
I'm from Holland, where I got my M.Sc. degree in Molecular Sciences in Wageningen. After that I finished my PhD thesis in biophysics in Toulouse (France). That means I had an education in organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, physical chemistry, mathematics, physics, computer programming and some related subjects. All that is needed to prepare samples for, and interpret the results of all types of spectroscopy, my specialisation.
To summarize my work: I study biological molecules to learn more about nature, and to do so I use methods that can be classified as "physics". This is cleverly called "biophysics". I focus particularly on proteins that are related to different diseases because learning more about them is a first step in the development of new types of drugs.
After my PhD thesis I worked for three years as postdoctoral research associate at King's College London, where I focused on solid-state and solution Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy of antimicrobial peptides, and molecular dynamics simulations. I also know a thing or two about statistics, and used python to create my own multivariate analysis software and molecular dynamics analysis tools. Besides that, Circular Dichroism and Fluorescence experiments are always useful, and sometimes I carry out molecular biological experiments to relate our biophysical model systems to "the real world".
My second post-doctoral position was for a year, at the biochemistry department of the University of Oxford, where I used solid-state NMR to study the structures and interactions of proteins with lipids. This also involved a lot of fitting and data analysis, and writing pulse-programs for the spectrometers.
I currently work in the "Membrane biophysics and NMR" department of the University of Strasbourg, where I apply the methods described above to study new types of antibiotics and molecules that are used to cure genetic diseases.
Apart from my work in research, I am interested in philosophy and tend to read books that people call "literature". My favorite writer is (and has been for a long time) Umberto Eco. If you happen to know a writer who is equally good I'd be very happy to hear your book suggestions. I also read books about computers and programming, and the interesting stuff that other people put on the Internet. Lately, I have been following some of the computer science courses at Udacity and coursera. In my (very limited) spare time I play with computers (programming in python usually), microcontrollers and electronics, and listen to good music: jazz, classical music, and some deep house, minimal, electro or drum & bass if I am in the mood for a party. Apart from all these geeky things, I practice Aikido, love to cook good food and eat it, and drink beer, wine, and everything else I can get my hands on. I have a lovely wife, and my friends usually say they like me (at least when I am around).
Why I have a weblog, and why anyone would be interested in it?
I have a weblog because I believe knowledge should be saved, shared and free.
This website is my small contribution to that. Maybe one day this will help someone. I will probably also help myself when I forgot the details of what I did after a year (or a day). Please feel free to use everything you find on this website in any way you see fit. I do however appreciate if you mention where you found the information. And if you are going to use it to make money: I want some too. That is why everything on this website is shared under the creative commons BY-NC-SA license.
What is this weblog about?
Most of it is probably using computers for scientific research. When I write about science that is usually in scientific journals.
What is our purpose in life?
I don't believe there is a higher goal of our existence, but my personal goal is to improve quality of life for myself and others by excellent reasearch, inspirational teaching, and contributing to society in general. In other words: I am simply trying to be nice and helpful where I can.
Curriculum Vitae (pdf), Linkedin, Facebook, List of publications: on my own website or at Google Scholar, and -of course- Google.
thanks a lot for the useful hints on xmgrace, my favorite plotting package that I still don't have fully under control. Your suggestions help.
So, I was curious about who would put so much effort into this, so I went to your personal page and snooped around. To my surprise I saw that you are a VVD voter: I had expected a 'green party' person. This is all good and well, my father was one too (although both my mother and I leaned more toward the PvdA, at least back in the 1960s when I still voted in the Netherlands, but what struck me as ambiguous, and maybe even wrong, was the designation of the VVD as 'liberal'.
Maybe this term works in Britain, but in the US this characterization is just about the same as 'progressive', and according to American conservatives (who tend to be really, really conservative compared to anyone in the civilized countries of Europe such as the Netherlands) crypto-socialist. Now, socialist is, to them, only a smidgen away from communist, and communist is almost the devil. So, you want to make sure that no one accuses the VVD of being 'liberal' in this sense. A better term may be 'conservative'
ps: or, still better, a little explanation that says that the VVD is actually quite reasonable in many ways, and does sign up to the social compact in the Netherlands. The ideological differences between the VVD and the PvdA are comparatively small.
Thank you for your reaction and correction. When I wrote this, I knew that "liberal" in the US has a different meaning but decided to leave it this way. Now I read your reaction I realise that I would not want all the visitors from the US to get the wrong idea about my politial views so I have changed the text. Thanks!
Regarding your expectations of my political views: I think I am an idealist, and I try to uphold my own ideals in my own lifestyle even if that costs me money (which is often the way it turns out unfortunately). If everybody would do that I think the world would be a better place.
But from many examples in the news and daily life alike it is clear that too many people care about money and profit above product quality, friendship, honesty, etcetera for this to be a realistic idea to base a society on. From my "liberal" point of view however, politics should not interfere too much with the way people choose to live or companies choose to run their business. I think this is very important! I therefore do not think the government should try and change people, which means dealing with the above. I therefore vote for a political party that leaves people mostly free and aims to run the country with realistic large-scale and long-term goals in mind, only doing what is necessary to run the country. At some important points I disagree with the VVD. I think not everything should be privatised. Essential services everybody needs such as public transport, healthcare, banking and infrastructure should be run by the government and be paid for with tax money. Despite that I do agree with them on many important issues of course.
But enough about politics - there are far more intersting things in life!