First of all, you need to know that I became (and still am) the target of anonymous Machiavellian jerks after I moved from Southampton to Portsmouth at the start of 2009, from the get-go. A sadistic criminal gang targets strangers who are perceived as not belonging here.
They often seem to target slightly older women who are independent in some manner. Because “Pompey women are real women”? Stuck in misery, with bruises all over their bodies and into a bottle of booze a day? Or quiet mousy little things?
See this post for some details: https://angelinasouren.com/2021/06/19/this-is-portsmouth/
Think extensive hacking. (Sabotage.) Think pretty severe abuse. Think dark triad. Think repeated lock-picking and vandalism in my flat. Think stealing – not delivering – most of my postal mail.
Think Naval base. Think port. (No, not the beverage.) Think 1950s and 1960s situations in society. Think (very) rough pubs. Think great deal of unemployment and poverty. (Powerlessness, resentment, lack of perspective.) Think city mostly located on a small island called Portsea Island. Think fierce insularity, with people deliberately creating as much misery as possible for each other – and certainly for strangers – and rejoicing in it.
It is considered fairly typical to move to Portsmouth, then lose your income and get stuck in poverty. (Ouch. People, that is so sad!) I didn’t know any of that when I moved to Portsmouth. I didn’t see any of this coming. Portsmouth looked like a great place to live in, to me, but I’ve been subjected to a lot of abuse here, some of it pretty horrific.
Okay, now you’re clued into the backstory for the present state of my life.
For my latest books: https://angelinasouren.com/free-downloads/
For my background: https://angelinasouren.com/about-me/
For what I can offer clients: https://angelinasouren.com/my-offer-to-clients/
You can probably see me as an all-round critical thinker, a researcher and writer with a solid earth and life science background. My current focus is on bioethics sensu lato. I am versatile, though, and have experience in a wide range of fields and environments.
I possess legal insight, used to work in tourism and hospitality in Amsterdam and I also have a great deal of insight in otherisation and how it can impact people.
So I can serve as a coach to some people, but I am also someone to brainstorm with and get feedback from in a less personal sense. Perhaps about administration and governance issues. Someone to add to your focus group if you want to have an outsider’s input.
Below is some info about my writing background, one way in which I used to gather information from all sorts of people. In addition, I used to do a lot of scientific editing, which was also a great way to learn what various people were up to.
As a component of my business activities, before I moved from Amsterdam to Britain at the end of 2004, I was part of the editorial team of Elements (@ 55 euros per hour, excl. of VAT). It was a print magazine published by the company Arcadis.
At around the same time, I was also editor-in-chief of the newsletter and scientific yearbook and a board member of the Environmental Chemistry (and Toxicology) Section of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society.
For eleven years, I served as associate editor for the international newsletter of the Geochemical Society, which is based in the US.
I have interviewed people all over the world, on location as well as by phone and e-mail, from China to Chile and from Amsterdam to Paris and Oxford.
I particularly remember finally being able to catch up with a very busy person (Herb Dempsey, who is now one of my LinkedIn connections) on his mobile phone at an airport somewhere in the US where he was waiting for a connecting flight. I needed to talk with him about the company’s involvement in the BioWatch program for an article of which you have just seen an image.
I also remember speaking with two highly sympathetic people who were based in China at the time, working for Arcadis: Thomas Kustusch who is German and Theo Tombeur who’s Belgian. Talking with Wim Verheugt and Ties van Kempen about the Black Sea particularly stands out as well, of course, in view of my professional background.
Of course, I remember my interview with Keith O’Nions, who had just been knighted as well as been appointed to become the next Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK’s Ministry of Defence. He is a kind and highly entertaining person. I had a killer sinus headache when I interviewed him and it affected my conversational skills badly, but Keith patiently remained enthusiastic. I was still based in Amsterdam then and combined this interview in Oxford with giving a talk in Plymouth afterwards, at PICOIII.
Interviewing Claude Allègre was an interesting experience as well. I have also edited a large number or scientific papers and grant proposals. What that did for me was introduce me to and keep me in touch with all kinds of scientific research. This helps you develop a strategic perspective and enables you to connect people across disciplines, even though you’re not in a science policy advisory position, not working for the NSF, NWO or the EU.
Much later, while I was living in the UK, I wrote some flash fiction that is somewhat reminiscent of the work of Spike Milligan, an Englishman who lives in Belgium told me. I looked into it and think that it only applies to some of it. Some of it is probably closer to Donald Barthelme’s quirky style, some of it is plain simple and some of it is like a zen koan. My flash fiction is available from various online retailers.
Later, I translated one of Richard Bintanja’s books into “The Ultimate Brainchild” of which the topic suits nicely within the context of the new eugenics. It is a very well-crafted novel with a Gattaca-style theme even though it is very different from Gattaca. It features a form of neurodiversity, a two-tiered world in which those who can and those who can’t are at odds. One of the groups is persecuted. Guess which one?
I have also contributed considerably to more than a handful of popular science books in the Dutch “For Dummies” series. My first academic publication, in marine biogeochemistry (in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta), had only me as author and was published as a tripartite discussion with a contribution from Jim Moffett, on whose work my article was a comment, and another one from Brad Tebo. It was accepted without any revisions. In part, it was a rewrite of a shorter article that I had submitted to Science in 1996 and after resubmission was deemed more suitable for a specialised journal.
At around the same time, I convened an AGU conference session in Boston on the role of fungi in the marine environment, supported by a grant from the Dr. Catharine van Tussenbroek Fonds. That got me invited to a conference in Hong Kong, but I only submitted an abstract as I was unable to travel to Hong Kong at the time. Fortunately, I was able to participate in the PICO-III symposium in Plymouth later that year, which I combined with a trip to Oxford where I did the O’Nions interview.
(Lay people are quick to assume that scientists get paid to talk at conferences. Nope! They pay to be allowed to participate and present. Something similar goes for publishing. That does not mean that your work is accepted as long as you pay! This is where something called peer review comes into play. Thankfully, some scientific journals no longer charge scientists for publishing, but the natural and physical sciences remain a very expensive profession, also requiring a great deal of expensive fancy equipment. This is why grant proposals are the life blood of any decent scientist’s career.)
In 2000, I wrote a review on the environmental chemistry of cyanide, which was cited all over the world. I also contributed a quote about the Mariana Trench for a book in Canada.
Other than that, I have written so many bits and pieces here and there (mostly on geochemistry and environmental chemistry, occasionally including health issues, and also on feminism and on women in science), that it’s impossible to list or even remember them all.
I had already started writing stories and articles when I was in primary school. I was on my school’s first newspaper team, went on a typewriting course when I was 18 and purchased my own typewriter shortly after. As a teenager, I sent a letter to a national weekly – more or less a Dutch counterpart of RadioTimes – about a play by G.B. Shaw that had been aired. They published it.
In the early 1980s, I sent a letter to Tineke Beishuizen (a Dutch writer and columnist) about my mother’s illness and death in response to the passing of someone in Tineke’s vicinity (her mother in law, if I recall correctly). I received a letter back from Tineke, asking me for permission to use the letter as a column (adapted, of course) in the women’s magazine Libelle, as well as a lot of encouragement to write more. We spoke on the phone; I called her from a phone booth in Hilversum or Baarn as I didn’t have a landline in those days when we weren’t as connected yet as we all are today.
I also submitted an item to women’s weekly Viva, about my cat Tim who I’d adopted from the shelter around the time when I began working on my Master’s. Viva published the item and sent me a voucher in return. (I think it was for 25 guilders’ worth of flowers.)
A bit later in the 1980s, I sent about a dozen letters to the editor of Dutch national daily De Volkskrant, responding to articles in the newspaper. Almost all were published and all or almost all in the Saturday edition. Most were about violence against women and children. I wrote these letters after I had been raped by an intruder who had climbed onto the balcony of my student flat while I was asleep. Writing the letters was part of my process of working through what had happened. I also signed up for a self-defence course for women at Vrouwencentrum Kenau in Amsterdam and I read books like Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will to try to understand what had happened to me. Right after it happened, my friend Juul Everaars – who was a geology student as well – hopped on her bicycle to be with me to support me and my two siblings drove up from the south. (I called Juul first, the police next.) The rapist returned half a year later. I woke up, walked to the door in combat stance, but I grabbed a knife along the way and it hit a glass. The sound alerted the guy. When I moved the curtain slightly to be able to look onto the balcony, I found him crouched right there in front of me, at the glass door. He jumped up and disappeared over the balustrade. (The police officers who showed up after that told me I should have grabbed my geologist’s hammer instead of the knife as the knife was too dull according to them.) Building management then helped me move to a different flat in the complex after that. I later threw a party to celebrate that I was leaving it all behind me and moving on.
As eight or nine out of ten of my letters to De Volkskrant were published, and usually in the Saturday edition, I did not realise at all that it was quite hard to get letters published in that particular newspaper. I discovered that later, during an evening course at the Netherlands School for Journalism, when the instructor specifically mentioned it as part of the class one evening, as an exercise, to try this as a way of assessing one’s writing skills and as a challenge to set ourselves. In those days, newspapers were still print-only so editors had to be highly selective.
I also did a lot of writing for the NIMF foundation in those days and took some time out from my Master’s to focus on my work for it, including symposium organisation and PR, some of that with the amazing Hélène van Pinxteren (RIP) and the brilliant Kine Sittig as well as with Nanne Weber (RIP), Martje Roessing (RIP), Hadass Eviatar, Rineke Verbrugge, Elly Jeurissen and many others who are all super women in their own way.
(Images: I took two evening courses at the Netherlands’ School for Journalism in Utrecht while I was completing my Master’s.)
In the mid-1990s, when I was living in the US, I wrote a letter to the editor of an American newspaper (the St. Peterburg Times, which won twelve Pulitzer Prizes since 1964, but later merged into a larger regional newspaper). That too was published, but its content wasn’t spectacular. It expressed enthusiasm about my experiences at the university there. Its title was something like “Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side”.