What’s your name, nationality, current function, and department?
Elisabeth Noordanus, NL, PhD candidate, Biophysics (DCN).
What is the topic of your PhD project and what does your work look like in practice?
The goal of the project I work on is to improve and automate the fitting of hearing aids and cochlear implants. Fitting means: finding the optimal settings (for an individual). This is especially important for hearing in noise and to localize the source of a sound in the horizontal plane. Currently I’m focusing on methods to characterize the auditory performance by means of an EEG measurement. We use simple, repetitive auditory stimuli, combinations of pure tones. So, you can find me a lot in the basement of the Huygens building where our EEG lab is located.
Who are you working with and what do these collaborations look like?
My promotor is John van Opstal, further I collaborate with the postdoc Lei Wang and usually with a bachelor and/or a master student. These collaborations can be very scientific like discussing measurements and analyzing results, or very practical when debugging scripts. It can also resemble a visit to the hairdresser, when we prepare a subject for an EEG measurement (we specialize in a very modern look with lots of gel).
What has your career path been so far and how did you come to your current position?
My career path is a long story. Here is the short version: studying Physics in Utrecht => working at Philips and later at ASML => having my own company in web design and programming for internet applications. I started my own company in 2000, which was a time when many companies did not have a website and I could do both the design and the programming. I guess that over the years the work started to be a little less challenging. I realized that I did not want to continue with this work until my pension and that I did want to study again. The choice for neuroscience was easy, I’ve always been very interested in the brain and read a lot about it, I already chose biophysics as a minor when I studied in Utrecht.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I wanted to work in a circus when I was about 6 years old. Or be a ballet dancer. And still I like the circus and (modern) ballet, but only as a visitor…
Who inspires you the most and why?
For me it is not “who” but “what”: learning new things and - after a lot of frustration - solving a difficult (or sometimes in hindsight irritatingly simple) problem.
What does your perfect weekend look like?
That depends on how busy I am during the week. I like to be without any obligations – but I also like the regular meeting with old friends and going away for the weekend with my partner.
What is your favorite book and why?
I read a lot and don’t have one favorite book or author. But when I would have to choose one it is Doris Lessing, who has an amazing capacity to observe and describe ordinary things in a totally new way.
What are you looking forward to in life?
I guess I’m more focusing on the here and now compared to when I was younger. I look forward to obtaining my PhD and want to continue working in the auditory field. But the most important point for me is to enjoy the work, and that I certainly do in our Biophysics department.