Born in Eindhoven I obtained a first class masters degree in Biochemistry and a PhD in Biology from the University of Utrecht (1985). Subsequently I worked at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, initially as postdoc, followed by promotion to lecturer and senior lecturer. In 1996 I moved to the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee and where I won promotion to reader (1998) and hold a personal chair in Developmental Physiology since 2000. I have acted as director of the School of Life Sciences PhD programme (2000-2005), head of Division of Cell and Developmental Biology (2005-2010) and currently as head Systems Biology at the School of Life Sciences. I was awarded a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2002 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2004.
My main research focus is to understand how cell-cell signalling controls different cell behaviours such as cell differentiation, division, shape change and movement and how these behaviours feedback on cell-cell signalling. We investigate this in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum and during gastrulation in amniote embryos. My aim is to understand how the feedbacks between chemical and mechanical cell-cell signalling and cell behaviours result in self-organising emergent properties at the tissue level that underlie essential steps of embryonic development. My research is highly interdisciplinary and uses a combination of methods from molecular cell and developmental biology, genetics, biophysics, live imaging and large scale image data analysis and importantly both mathematical and computational modelling.