playful researcher & educator
I'm an assistant professor in the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS).
My research typically approaches academia in a playful manner, both in subject and in method. I believe that playfulness can be a valuable asset in academic work. This approach is central also in the Media Technology Master-of-Science program, where I lecture.Media Technology LIACS My Publications Contact Me
I was listed in "Nerd 101", a list of the "101 most interesting technologists, inventors and tinkerers in the Netherlands".
I was a technical game producer for 13 seasons of Dutch TV show Wie is de Mol?, building games and challenges on locations worldwide.
I designed and wrote the original NMEA0183 open-source code that was later evolved by others into Arduino's TinyGPS library.
I gave a TEDx talk entitled "Academic Freedom for the Young".
Comedian Ricky Gervais ridiculed a scientific study of Wim van Eck and me.
Exploring the integration of biological entities (micro-organisms, fungi, insects, ...) in digital games. For example, we grew real bacterial and fungal cultures to design landscapes for in games, and we let real crickets control the ghosts in Pacman. This is work that I do with PhD student Wim van Eck.
Identifying, implementing and testing digital systems that interact directly with animals. In particular, we investigate the potential of digital entertainment (games) for animals. For example, we discovered that an electronic game can lower stress-hormone levels in home-alone dogs.
How can playfulness be exploited as part of scientific research and its daily practice? Tinkering is an approach that is commonly considered playful.
These are my teaching achievements for Leiden University's Media Technology Master-of-Science program.
I supervise MSc theses of Media Technology students, and the occasional PhD thesis.
MSc research projects are concieved by the graduating student and executed together with two thesis advisors.
Click on for a list of all the MSc theses that I supervised.
A course that combines an introduction into scientific research with the concept of creative research, actual scientific research that was brought about in playful or creative ways, in order to come to results that could otherwise not be envisioned or achieved.
A seminar-style course about various sexy topics from the field of artificial intelligence. The topics include the question of whether machines can think, evolutionary computation, neural networks, computing with DNA, computers and emotions, artificial creativity, bio-digital hybrids, and more.
A three-hour lecture that introduces Arduino programming by way of live coding and wiring in front of class. I teach it several times per year for different programs, and also within Media Technology's Hardware & Physical Computing course.
I co-organize this annual project-course with other colleagues. Students work in groups towards realizing a product or installation for an audience. However, the process of researching while creating an audience experience is as important as the product itself. The project ends with a public exhibition in a gallery.
All students go on a study-trip to the Ars Electronica Festival in Austria, the world's main forum of electronic art. Over four days they are faced with many sides of the electronic arts & sciences, as a source of inspiration and shared knowledge. Together with colleagues I supervise this study-trip.
How to get a PhD position is clouded in mystery. Is it about searching for jobs online, filling in application forms and recommendations letters? Or does the research tribe hunt for candidates and decide in more informal ways? In an afternoon, Peter van der Putten and me talk about how (we think) the game is played.
Can we model creativity and could it be the result of computation? Are artificial intelligence and artificial creativity really different? Ever since people have considered intelligent machines, they have also considered whether machines could be creative. This lecture takes a historical computer sciences view on artificial creativity.
"Perceptualization" is the translation of signals and information to the human senses. This course studied how properties of our perception can best be used to convey information, dealing with perceptual resolutions, time, cross-modal effects, psycho-acoustic effects, etc.
What makes something a creature? Is there a required minimal ingredient? In a three-day workshop, we explored properties of creatures and students built single-aspect artificial creatures. Some of the resulting robots are legendary.
Time-space images mix spatial and temporal scene properties across their spanning dimensions. Typical techniques to achieve this are slit-scanning, The Matrix bullet time, aliasing. In a three-day workshop, students learn about the technology and created their own warped images.
Tinkering is a mode of scientific knowledge creation adopted by many. Likewise, tinkering as a mode of education is adopted by academic programs worldwide also. This workshop aimed to connect academics who do and do not yet tinker in education.
For my PhD diploma (Leiden University, 2001) I applied neural network techniques to data analysis problems in environmental epidemiology at the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). My Master's degree in computer science (Utrecht University, 1993) was obtained after specializing in neural networks for medical image processing. In 1992 I was an exchange student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, USA. I was born in 1968, should you want to know.
Since 2002 I'm an assistant professor within Leiden University s computer science institute (LIACS). I'm a member of their Media Technology MSc program's executive committee and lecture in the same program. My research is cross-disciplinary, combining computer science with other interests.
Outside the university's walls, I co-founded the LaserMaxx lasergame brand, a major brand of lasergames worldwide, for which I still design game technology. Through this work, I was a technical game producer for national TV-show "Wie is de Mol?" (2000-2014).my LinkedIn
I regularly give public presentations about academic topics, typically those that combine research with a playful attitude. Among topics that I present regularly are:
Robotics and man-robot interactions (typically with Peter van der Putten)
Creativity and playfulness in academia
Academic freedom for young people, such as secondary school students
Artificial creativity, or creative artificial intelligence
Hybrid biological-digital games
Feel free to contact me with your request for a presentation.