Who am I?
To put it in a nurshell: I am a Flemish mathematician who travels a lot and has many international contacts, but who takes life the "Flemish way". This means that I do mathematics because I like it (I try to be a rationally thinking person, and mathematics is the most rational of all sciences), but I also do mathematics only when I like it, meaning that sometimes there are other aspects of life (such as a good meal or glass of wine,
taking care of our granddaughter, a party with family, friends or colleagues, or something intriguing I can do with my computer) which take priority, and at such times I can easily forget mathematics or at least put it on a secondary level.
What do I do professionally?
Since October 1st 2008 I am retired from my professorship at the University;
the main difference between my current situation and the one before my
retirement is that now I have no more teaching and administrative duties.
The research is still going on, although maybe at a somewhat lower pace.
As a professor at the university I had officially three types of duties:
(1) teaching; (2) research; (3) sitting in commitees and other administrative
duties. I have always tried to minimize this last category, up to the point
that at one of the promotion rounds years ago one had to invent a separate
label to categorize my (non)-efforts in that respect. As for teaching duties
these have changed very much over the years, with a peak around the turn of
the century when I had so many classes each week that I had barely time left
over for answering my e-mail, and such that my research efforts were
reduced to almost zero. Later, with my retirement in close view and
thanks to the new bachelor-master scheme, my teaching was reduced to
the bare minimum (shame prevents me from stating here the number of hours
I teached every year). So the main part of my (post)-professional life centered
and remains to center around
the many aspects of my research in the field of dynamical systems. These
different aspects include the actual research itself - thinking about problems
and trying to find good answers - but also going to conferences, visiting colleagues abroad, preparing lectures about my work, and (very importantly
in order to show to the hierarchy higher up that one has actually
"done something") writing papers and getting them published in appropriate
journals. This is the part of my job which I have always liked most,
because it entails an irregular succession of, at one side, totally unstructured periods during which one has no idea where things are going, and at the
other side, periods during which one follows a strict scheme concentrating
completely on working out step by step every little detail of some theory,
paper or lecture. Together with the unexpected turns in the direction of
my research and the many international contacts this forms the menu which I
have enjoyed since many years and which I hope to continue to enjoy for
many years to come.
Prizes and rewards
It is always nice when the work we do gets recognized by colleagues or by the
society at large. Earlier in my career I have won a few
prizes and rewards.
The best rewards of a research mathematician as myself are of course the
invitations to come to conferences and to give talks at the universities
of colleagues in our research field. Recently one of the best rewards came
as a surprise present for my 60th birthday (September 2006): a few of my
best colleagues and friends - Sebius Doedel, Jan Sanders and Bernd Krauskopf -
had conspired to collect more than 20 scientific papers by many of my good
friends from the dynamical systems scene, and to get them published in
two special issues of the Journal of Difference Equations and Applications
(Volume 12, numbers 11 and 12, 2006) and in a special issue of the International
Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos (Volume 17, number 8, 2007).
What do I do in my spare time?
With my retirement this question has of course lost most of its relevance,
since now all my time is officially "spare time". But even before my
retirement, and with my kind of profession, there was almost never a clear distinction between
"job matter" and "private matter". For example, I like to play and experiment
with my computer; some of the results can be seen on my
a kind of dummy website referring to the different places on the
web where you can find my stuff, but also a website with a regularly changing
layout (at least when I find the time).
But then one could ask: is trying out a new presentation or drawing program just
something I do for my own fun or someting which I can use for my lectures and
presentations? I guess both, and personally I do not even want to make the
distinction. During summer time I enjoy sitting in my garden, but usually
I will sit there with my laptop working on some paper or adding stuff to my
website. And when we travel there is mostly a professional reason,
but this does not prevent us from combining the trip with some touristic
excursions, some social gatherings, and some good meals in well chosen
restaurants. So for me "spare time" equals "professional time taken the
Flemish way", which due to our history means "the Burgundy way". Cheers!
Variations on a single (and simple) theme...
If you want to see me in various appearances - and have some fun at the same time - then click
on my picture above.