Many short-term actions are needed to help us through the current disruptions. As academics, if we can help to support processes that are important to keep society running, we should all step in. Immediately. But we should also look beyond today and continue to set and pursue long-term goals. 

Like many of us, I am in research because of the fascination that complex problems bring, because of the excitement of discovery and the satisfaction of creating new knowledge and of pushing innovation. For me, all of this is closely tied to working with PhD students and postdocs. 

For the last fifteen years I’ve been trying to do research, and encourage others to do research, at the interface of academia and society. The mantra is simple: try to do great science with great impact. For me personally, this has meant helping to set up startups, setting up joint projects with partners in industry and in local and national governments. It has also meant helping to build up Amsterdam Data Science and helping to get the national Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence up and running.

The time has come for me to take a new step at the intersection of academia and society. As of today, I have joined Ahold Delhaize as Vice President Personalization and Relevance and as Senior Research Fellow, for two days a week. In this role I will focus on developing and deploying an applied research agenda in the domain of personalization and relevance, on boosting the research on personalization and relevance at Ahold Delhaize, on setting a research talent agenda, and, more generally, on helping to grow R&D throughout Ahold Delhaize.

My appointment at the University of Amsterdam has been reduced from five days per week to three days per week. During those three days I will continue in my role as University Professor. I will focus on supervising my PhD students and postdocs, and on my role as scientific director of the national Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence.

Stay safe.