Tom Heskes
Tom Heskes

Tom Heskes starts as Vice Dean for Research

After the summer holidays, Tom Heskes will start as Vice Dean for Research at Radboud University's Faculty of Science. We look ahead with him.

Are you looking forward to this new role?

“Yes, I am very much looking forward to it. I already know Dean Sijbrand de Jong well, we were directors of research at the same time. I have not worked much together with Karen de Bruijn, Managing Director. And of course there will be a new Vice Dean for Education. I am very curious what dynamics there will be in this new group. I look forward to that.”

What are you going to start with?

“My predecessors have done very good things. Frits Vaandrager has committed himself to the Mohrmann fellowships, something that I think is going very well. And Richard van Wezel has set up the Interdisciplinary Research Platform, which has already resulted in many collaborations. They both created something new. I don't necessarily have to set up something new myself. I want to see if what's there is working properly. I will first look at what is going on, and what the possibilities are in terms of finances. With the cutbacks at the Dutch universities, we’re starting our lean years. That will be a challenge."

What do you hope to achieve as Vice Dean for Research?

"I always try to look for collaborations in my work, both with companies and with other researchers. Because I have worked with many different people, I have built up quite a network. Working together gives you new insights. As Vice Dean for Research, I therefore hope to encourage collaboration across the institutes. I think that is already going very well, but I would like to continue that.”

‘I am a bit cautious in saying that we always have to work with companies. I think it is very important, but I also think that there is a lot of research that is just a little less connected to the business world. And that doesn't make it any less good research. More partnerships seems very good to me, but not a must."

What challenges do you see, besides the cutbacks?

"A lot of good research is being done at our faculty. When distributing finances, you notice that the funds often go to large projects. I think you should also support the smaller projects, which can become the big ones in a few years' time."

"The Mohrmann fellowships and the IRP vouchers have also brought in many new topics for research. Topics that you wouldn't necessarily have thought of beforehand, but that are very interesting and refreshing. I think we should be open to that. It's good to have major themes, such as GreenIT, but we shouldn't forget the studies that fall just slightly outside of that."

About Tom Heskes

Prof. Tom Heskes is Professor of Data Science. He conducts research in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science. He uses probability theory and statistics to develop and better understand new data science methods. Causality, how to determine cause and effect from "big data", is of particular interest to him. The developed techniques are used in all kinds of projects, especially in healthcare and industry.

Tom Heskes studied physics at Radboud University and graduated in statistical physics. He obtained his PhD in biophysics on neural networks and machine learning. After his PhD, Tom Heskes did a postdoc at the Beckman Institute in Illinois in the United States. After a year he returned to his former supervisor Stan Gielen for an appointment at the Neural Networks Foundation. He and colleagues set up a BV, Smart Research (now: Big for Data). Heskes then became assistant professor in Computing Science. A few years later he received a VICI for his research on machine learning. Soon after, he became a professor and research director. Five years ago, Heskes started a new spin-off alongside his professorship: Machine2Learn. This spin-off was recently acquired by Silo AI.

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Faculty of Science