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Rik has always been fascinated with analyzing and modelling the world around him. He has been interested in areas as diverse as mechanical and civil engineering, rocket science, biology and fundamental physics. He started his academic career in pure mathematics, but at the same time, he developed a passion for data science and machine learning. In the middle of his PhD he decided to completely switch research direction and now studies applied mathematics and machine learning. He also keeps a blog where he toys with diverse topics in data science.
Rik is the editor of 16 Breaks:
Ships with hitchhiking critters connect Antarctica to the rest of the world
Ships expose Antarctica to many kinds of human impacts, including invasive species that cannot cross the rough seas of the Southern Ocean without help. To successfully conserve iconic Antarctic species and environments we need to know where non-native species might come from, and where to look for them in Antarctica.Jul 8, 2022 | 4 min read
Are super-Earths more friendly to life than we thought?
The discovery of planets outside the Solar System began thirty years ago and has been on the rise since, but how much do we know about these planets? Can we find out what they are made of and if they are habitable? Can we use our limited knowledge of the Earth’s interiors to predict the habitability of these faraway planets? Some scientists used laser beams on a piece of iron and did just that.May 30, 2022 | 3.5 min read
Diving into the icy origins of Martian valleys
Mars is nowadays a frozen desert devoid of liquid water, but it was not always like this: giant valleys and canyons on its surface show that at some point in the remote past, water existed on the Martian surface. Trying to understand the origin of these valleys, we found answers in an unexpected place: the plumbing system of ice sheets.Apr 1, 2022 | 3.5 min read
Organizing DNA sets the tempo of gene activation
If you had to fit two meters of a thread into a ball smaller than the width of a single strand of hair, how would you do it? How would you organize it so that important parts of the thread are close together? This is precisely the way our DNA fits inside our cell nucleus, and the way we do it has direct implications on whether genes are activated at the right time and place.Mar 21, 2022 | 4 min read
Thinking about thoughts: how the brain evaluates confidence
Confidence and uncertainty in our thoughts are extremely important when making decisions, but how does the brain compute confidence? We found a region in the brain closely associated with confidence. This sheds light on how the brain evaluates our own thoughts and actions.Mar 11, 2022 | 4 min read
Can nerve signals put a halt to type 1 diabetes?
In type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas, causing chronic problems with blood sugar. It has long been a mystery why the immune system does these attacks. We discovered that nerve cells may play an important role, and this could be an important step in finding a treatment.Feb 16, 2022 | 3 min read