The PhD council


The PhD council
Welcome to the information page of the PhD Council of the Beta Faculty. If you have questions on requirements and education you are in exactly the right place. We can also help if you want to get to know your fellow PhD-students. And we will also try to reach you, in order to be able to represent our needs as PhD-students within the Beta faculty.

Goals of the council
The PhD council was established with two overarching goals in mind: 1) to improve communication from the Beta faculty board to PhD students in all graduate schools of the Beta Faculty, and 2) to represent the needs of PhD students in the faculty of Beta sciences. As such, the PhD council aims to provide information on ‘doing’ your PhD, communicate on new regulations and education requirements for PhD students, gain insights into problems and solutions experienced and offered by PhD students and facilitate a network of PhD students at the Beta faculty.

Agata Malinowska
Room: WN-U030

agata-malinowskaWho am I?
My name is Agata Malinowska and I am working on my PhD at the department of Physics. I’m part of the group of the Physics of Living Systems, where we research biological systems at the single-molecule level.

What is my research about?
My main project is focused on understanding the processes driven by the ice-binding proteins: inhibition of the recrystallization of ice (causing ice to stay in form of small grains) and introduction of thermal hysteresis (lowering of the freezing point of water). Such proteins appear in cells and blood of various organisms that live in the Antarctic area and can be very helpful for preserving crops or protecting organs during transportation on ice.

Why am I a member of the PhD council?
I believe the PhD council can be a bridge between the PhD students and the Faculty Board and it has already greatly improved the communication between the two. We want to strengthen the community within the PhDs of the faculty, provide help with PhD related issues and lower the amount of stress all PhD students are being subjected to.

Tessa Roedema
Room: WN-S505

tessa-roedemaWho am I?
My name is Tessa Roedema, a PhD-student working at the Athena Institute – the department for inter- and transdisciplinary research in the health and life sciences at the VU. I love to step outside of my comfort zone and I am eager to take on new challenges, as I feel these are ideal situations to learn. In my student and working life I have put this to practice by switching from biomedical sciences; to studying complex societal problems; to taking on my current PhD-position in the field of Science Communication.

What is my research about?
My research is part of the EU-funded RETHINK project, that aims to improve the quality of interactions between science and society. We specifically focus on the fast-changing science communication landscape. This landscape is characterised by science opening-up to society and digitalisation, thereby inviting a wide variety of new actors now engaged in online scicomm, social media and fake news. A guiding principle in our effort to bring science and society closer together is that the local knowledge of citizens and scicomm practitioners across the EU should play a vital role in shaping future scientific developments.

Why do I love being a member of this PhD council?
My interest in bringing people together and sharing our knowledge is what drove me to apply for the PhD council. As a member of this council I hope to connect people with different perspectives and backgrounds, because I belief that 1+1=3!

Liselotte Hagedoorn
Room: WN-F503
liselotte-hagedoornWho am I?
My name is Liselotte Hagedoorn and I am currently working as a PhD student at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM). Within this institute we have four departments. I work at the department of Environmental Economics. I am passionate about solving complex environmental problems related to ecosystem management, climate change, renewable energy and food chains.

What is my research about?
I work on two different projects. The first is ‘ResilNam’, which focuses on improving flood resilience using ecosystem-based adaptation measures in Central Vietnam. The second project is ‘Sustainable Ports in Africa’, that uses the port of Tema in Ghana as case study. In both sites I focus on valuing the ecosystem services that will be affected by, for instance, replanting of mangroves or a port design that takes local fisheries into account. More specifically I look into the differences when using a monetary or time payment vehicle in discrete choice experiments that aim to value ecosystem services in a developing country context.

Why do I love being a member of this PhD council?
I think this council provides great opportunities to represent the faculty’s PhDs and create a sense of community among ourselves. I hope that it will stimulate us to share knowledge and experiences and improve the information flow on PhD related matters.

Tom Eames
Room: WN-E327

tom-eamesWho am I? 
I am Tom Eames, doing my PhD in the ‘Earth and Climate’ group within the department of Earth Sciences. I am passionate about climate change issues in our society and hope to be able to assist in addressing the problem by adding to our understanding of it!

What is my research about?
In a word, fire. Wildfires are featuring more and more in the news, and our group is focussed on quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from fires worldwide. My own research is more remote sensing based – I use drones to map areas before and after fires in Savanna ecosystems with multispectral cameras. These can be then used to estimate things like fuel load (i.e. total vegetation) area burned, combustion completeness, and also to compare and validate satellite observations over the same area. Additionally, part of the work I do goes towards validating carbon credit schemes using fire management techniques, so making sure that the offset programs available actually work!

Why do I love being a member of this PhD council?
(Probably) everybody doing a PhD is fascinated by their research and loves what they do! But it’s not always the easiest job in the world. Seeing as I can’t make anybody’s research any easier, I’d like to try and help make the rest of their work lives a little smoother and less stressful so that all the important research happening at the VU can be as good as possible!

Joey van Langen
Room: NU-09A94

joey-van-langenWho am I?
My name is Joey van Langen. I’m a PhD-student in the mathematics department, specifically working on problems in number theory. I enjoy solving complex puzzles in a creative way, which is precisely what mathematics provides for me, especially in my PhD project.

What is my research about?
My research focuses on solving Diophantine equations. Specifically I try to solve equations that can be solved using the modular method, a method that originated from the famous proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. Working with this method combines abstract mathematics with very explicit calculations. My day to day work therefore involves both thinking about difficult mathematical concepts, as well as some programming in different computer algebra packages.

Why am I a member of this PhD council?
I think it is important that the interests of PhD students are represented within the faculty. Especially for math PhD students these interests might differ from other employees and perhaps also other PhD students. Therefore I want to make sure these interests are properly represented.

Alejandra Guevara Morel
Room: WN-U445

alejandra-guevara-morelWho am I?
My name is Alejandra Guevara Morel. As medical doctor and epidemiologist with a passion for healthcare, I believe in changes of the health systems at a bigger scale that have an impact for the whole population through research. I’m currently in the 2nd year of my PhD project in the Department of Health Sciences.

What is my research about?
The overall aim of my research is to develop and/or evaluate statistical methods to assess real word data-based cost effectiveness analysis of healthcare interventions. Currently, I focus on methods to deal with missing data.

Why am I a member of this PhD council?
I want to have a voice and represent my fellow PhD colleagues in the Faculty of Science to be able to make positive changes in the overall experience individuals have in their PhD trajectories.

Juami van Gils
Room: NU-12A47

juami-van-gilsWho am I?
My name is Juami van Gils, and I am doing my PhD in the Computer Science department at the VU. As part of the bioinformatics group, we apply computational techniques such as machine learning and simulations of 3D molecular systems to answer complex biological questions. Until the end of 2020, I am also the chair of the PhD council.

What is my research about?
The aim of my project is to gain a deeper understanding of the thermodynamic properties of protein structure, more specifically beta-sheet formation. This work has applications in biotechnology, but can also help us understand amyloid-related diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson, where these structures play a major role.
Why am I a member of this PhD council?
In the PhD council of the Science faculty, I hope to help students feel at home at the VU. We can do this by addressing important issues that PhD students encounter directly with the faculty, but also by organising social events where students can get to know each other, and by being a point of contact in case something is not going so well.

Douglas Wightman
Room: WN-B636

douglas-wightmanWho am I?
My name is Douglas Wightman. I’m a 2nd year PhD student at the Complex Traits Genetics lab within the Department of Neuroscience. I am currently investigating the genetic variants which contribute to Alzheimer's disease.

What is my research about?
My research focuses on analysing large scale genetic data to identify the specific variants, genes, and pathways that contribute to complex disease. I am also interested in maintaining and developing pipelines that make analysis of genetic data more accessible and efficient.
Why am I a member of this PhD council?
I want to help other PhD students access the support and information that they need to enjoy their PhD.


Saúl Fernandes
Room: WN-H127

Saul-fernandesWho am I?
My name is Saúl Fernandes. I am PhD in the Ecological Science department in the group of Ecotoxicology. I am enthusiastic about studying the environmental impacts of human actions with a particular interest in soils.

What is my research about?
My project focus on exploring the role of soil organisms in ecosystem services and study its potential sensitivity to chemical stressors. Particularly, I am investigating the effects of pesticides commonly used in agriculture on ecosystem services provided by soil micro-arthropods.
Why am I a member of this PhD council?
I believe it is very important for my PhD colleagues in Ecological Science to have a member of this council. I want to help in the representation of our interests and have a positive contribution to the council’s goals.