Research lines

Visualisation in research

Visualisation is key in any project involving datapoints. Yet the reader is not ‘showered in graphical displays’ [Anscombe, 1973]. I am an active promotor of the use of visualisation, and try to help people make graphs in several ways: i) by making the graphs for them; ii) by giving visualisation-workshops in R; iii) by creating R-packages that facilitate the use of graphs.

Studying the number of children people want and have

There is huge variation in the number of children people (would like to) have over time / across the globe / within countries. I try to study the determinants of this variation, including individual factors like wealth and education, genetic factors, and social influences.

Evolutionary perspectives on human height variation

My research in the past has focussed on variation in human height. In particular, how evolutionary processes have been and are shaping variation in stature. I tried to address questions like: Why is there such variation across countries in height? Why are women on average shorter than man? In what ways does height play a role in mate choice and competition? Does natural selection act on height in contemporary populations? Why are the Dutch so tall? Why am I so tall?

Recent Publications

More Publications

  • Simulating the evolution of height in the Netherlands in recent history

    Details PDF

  • FertNet: Process Data from the Social Networks and Fertility Survey

    Details PDF Code Project

  • Capturing the Dynamics of the Social Environment Through Experience Sampling Methods, Passive Sensing, and Egocentric Networks: Scoping Review

    Details PDF

  • Crisissignaleringsplan monitoren en visualiseren


  • Fertility preferences in China in the twenty-first century

    Details PDF

Recent Posts

More Posts

On October 27th, the Young Academy Groningen, in collaboration with the Open Science Community Groningen and de Digital Competence Centers at our University organised a hackaton-style-event. The aim of the event was to produce a as-short-as-possible-as-long-as-necessary decision tree to help researchers navigate requirements from the GDPR and Open Science. Vera Heininga and Toon Kuppens were essential in all this. The outcome of that event was presented at the official launch of the Groningen Digital Competence Center.


The CBS has published a great report on the Dutch not getting taller, or even shrinking. Naturally, I had to show up to do all sorts of interviews. Some greatest hits:






Given the upcoming US elections, several media outlets have shown interest in my research on US presidential height. So did The Economist:

They definitely improved my graphs:

I should try and see if I can recreate those graphs in R.



I currently teach or contribute to the following courses at the University of Groningen’s sociology curriculum:


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