I hold a MSc in Plant Production (1992) and a PhD in Rural Sociology (1997), both from Wageningen University. After obtaining my PhD degree I worked as project leader at the Centre for Agriculture and Environment from 1997 to 1999 and as postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Studies of Science, Technology & Society of Twente University from 1999 to 2001. In 2001 I returned to Wageningen University to become assistant professor in Rural Sociology. In 2002 I became associate professor and since November 2004 I am Professor and Chair of Rural Sociology.
My research activities initially focussed on a) the dynamics of multifuntional agriculture and b) the dynamics of alternative food networks and their impact on rural and regional development. From 2003 to 2006 I was coordinator of the EC-funded project SUS-CHAIN, which focussed on the role of new food supply chains in sustainable rural development. From 2009 to 2011 I was coordinator of a research program on the dynamics and robustness of multifunctional agriculture funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.
While remaining interested in the topics of rural development and food provisioning I broadened my focus to also include the urban domain. This resulted in several new EC funded projects. From 2010 to 2014 I was coordinator of a Marie Curie Initial Training Network (EC FP7 PEOPLE funding) on urban, peri-urban and regional food dynamics (PUREFOOD). In 2012 I became coordinator of a 3-year collaborative research program (EC FP7 funding) on sustainable modes of urban and peri-urban food provisioning (SUPURBFOOD).
Currently I am involved in two research projects: as coordinator of a Horizon 2020 project exploring urban-rural relations and synergies (ROBUST) and as participant in the project entitled Urbanising in Place, funded by NWO.
I have supervised close to 25 PhD students and am currently supervisor of approximately 20 PhD projects in the fields of food sociology, food policy, and rural and regional development.