"I have always felt that I wanted to take part in developing our understanding of the universe, with the beauty of the night sky as a work environment. There are many amazing things going on in astronomy right now - for example, we're close to being able to detect Earth-like planets around other stars, which is incredibly exciting. Or take the study of gamma ray bursts, powerful explosions that bring messages to us from the distant reaches of the universe - just amazing."
"Dutch astronomy is among the best in the world and so I naturally wanted to come here. In applying to the UvA, I knew I would get a strong and complete background in my field, all of which seemed perfect for the many theoretical courses here and the La Palma observation project. From a research point of view, I was guided by the work done here on the formation of stars and planets."
"The formation of planetary systems was the most exciting topic, as I was already interested in extrasolar planets. Several people work on this at our institute, and they teach a special course. Understanding how planets around other stars form helps us see how our own pale blue planet came to be, plus it is important for judging how common such lovely planets are elsewhere in the Universe, and those aspects are very exciting."
"We are studying the inner regions of protoplanetary discs, using state of the art computer models and observations. These discs of matter around young stars will become planetary systems, and our goal is to understand the distribution and properties of this matter to clarify the very first phases of planet formation."
"I was very impressed by the international nature and friendly atmosphere at our institute. Furthermore, it was a pleasure having fellow students to discuss outlandish ideas with and put in long hours for homework and exams and also to enjoy quality procrastination through it all! Undoubtedly some of the fondest memories are from the observing trip to La Palma."