I received my BSc in Livestock Production at what is now called the Aeres University for Applied Sciences in Dronten, The Netherlands. Subsequently, I worked as a research associate at the Research Institute for Animal Husbandry ‘Schoonoord’ in Zeist, where I studied the effects of overcrowding, automatic feeding, and automatic milking on the behaviour of dairy cows. In 1998 I obtained my PhD at Wageningen University, where my research focused on behavioural coping strategies and stress physiology in dairy cows. I was heading the Animal Welfare Department at the Institute for Animal Husbandry and Animal Health (ID-DLO) from 2001 to 2004. Since then I coordinated the animal welfare research program regarding policy advice and support for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs (formerly Agriculture). From 2003 onwards, I combined my work as a senior scientist at Wageningen University and Research with a professorship in Animal Welfare at Van Hall Larenstein, University for Applied Sciences, Leeuwarden.
My professional career is marked by the interest in the multidimensional concept of animal welfare. This includes studies on animal based welfare indicators related to behaviour, health, and physiology ('animal welfare facts'). But I'm also involved in studies related to ethics, communication, and knowledge transfer between science, policy, and society ('animal welfare values'). As a professor of animal welfare, I studied a wide variety of animal species, ranging from production animals (cattle, poultry, pigs) to non-production animals (circus animals, wildlife, aggressive dogs, stray animals). As a member of the Dutch Animal Welfare Council I contribute to finding solutions for complex societal problems related to the use of animals.