About me

Hi there. Nice to see you.

I am an independent professional, trading as “SmarterScience”. I launched this VAT-registered business in October 1997 when I was still living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It used to have its own website with over 200 pages and several links from Wikipedia. I am also a Company Director, for Angelina Souren Ltd.

SmarterScience started out as offering scientists a smarter way to do science by enabling them to outsource some of their many tasks. To make that possible, I cooperated with an international network of associates.

My “stuga” in Sweden

Fieldwork in Sweden

I hail from the Netherlands, have previously lived in the United States, and have done geological fieldwork of up to two months in various EU countries. My longest fieldwork took place in Sweden, where I lived in a little stuga that had no electricity and no running water and where I used bottled gas for cooking and coffee.

A bit more background about me

Photo taken for my university ID in early 1994. I was 33 then.

I went to university relatively late in life. I initially worked in tourism and hospitality in Amsterdam, then quit my job and enrolled in earth sciences when I was in my mid-twenties, to become a geologist and marine biogeochemist. Most women my age were starting to have babies or were already well into their careers.

My parents had essentially only a primary school education and my mother fell ill at a very young age and passed away when I was fourteen. So I’ve always been a bit of a pioneer in a way, usually preferring to go left when everybody else goes right as there is a heck of a lot more fun to be had on the path less travelled.

I’d always had many interests, and I had trouble deciding on a career. It’s a long story. So in 1983, I contacted a career counselling agency in Amsterdam and had myself thoroughly assessed in the course of several days, notably to see if there were areas that I would be really bad at or that would be unsuitable for me (no).

The result was that I enrolled in earth sciences, as it’s highly multidisciplinary and requires you to speak several languages. I’d collected rocks for years, in my teens, and I had looked into becoming a geologist back then as well, so it didn’t come out of the blue.

The agency (which had come up with the suggestion of environmental science at Wageningen University) pointed out that I would also be very good at law (and other areas in which verbal nitpicking is key). High-school tests had said the same.

After I got my Master’s, I moved to the United States to do a PhD. That’s another long story. My goal was to be a professor with my own top-notch marine biogeochemistry group. I let go of that when I was in my mid-forties. There is no shame in that and I don’t regret that decision. Check out the bottom of this other page for more about this.

This is me at Schiphol Airport, tired after a very busy week in which lots of stuff went “wrong”, emigrating to Florida on 2 January 1994. Four of my friends and my two younger siblings sent me off.

While the US is the place that in spite of its challenges will likely always remain “home” to me, at least in my memory, and I’ve been in the UK since the end of 2004, I’ve spent a big chunk of my adult life in Amsterdam, where I was a member of the Amsterdam-American Business Club (AABC). It was at its first Dutch-American Friendship event where I met Lencola Sullivan (a world-class public speaker and singer, as I later found out) who introduced me to Toastmasters of The Hague.

A little bit later, at a Berenschot workshop on cultural differences, I chatted with Pinkney Froneberger; we discovered that we were both members of the AABC. Pinkney and I were business partners for a while and we spent part of US election night 2004 at the American Book Center‘s “Tree House” in Amsterdam, where I’ve enjoyed a few Thanksgiving dinners and singalongs as well. PC passed away much too young.

I am a former board member of the Environmental Chemistry (and Toxicology) Section of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society as well as former editor-in-chief of its newsletter and yearbook, a former member of the board and of various committees of NIMF (a Dutch foundation for women in science and technology), and former associate editor of the newsletter of the US-based but internationally operating Geochemical Society.

Among other things, I’ve also worked at a top law firm for a few years, side by side with him, herhim and others, working at all hours, sometimes also on weekends, to top up my income. Among other things, it helped me convene an AGU conference session in Boston, also supported by a grant from the Dr. Catharine van Tussenbroek Fonds. (That in turn got me invited to Hong Kong.)

I do creative stuff as well. You can find me on Zazzle (I only get a teeny tiny commission on sales and that only gets paid when a threshold is reached), Etsy and Pinterest and I’ve written some entertaining flash fiction. I’ve also been an extra for a few films and some TV series. I signed up in a period when my life was a bit boring, thinking it might be something fun to do, funnily enough heard nothing for one or two years and forgot all about it. Then the agency that bought the agency that I had originally signed up with contacted me and I had several gigs until I moved to the UK.

A fun fact about me? I once flew a small aircraft – an Aero Subaru Fuji FA200 – for a few moments, long before I learned how to start a car. Also, I’ve had blue, pink and turquoise hair a few times (see photos below).

Thanks for having stopped by. Drop me a note via the contact form?

That’s me with my alto sax at a rehearsal in Bristol in 2009. I looked a lot better than I sounded! (Partly owing to a turquoise-coloured fibre deftly stuck onto the pad of my A, that day.) My grey-white hair was dyed; this was before I became allergic to various synthetic hair dyes and before I started using a great henna brand called Henné Color. The rehearsals were for the event in the video below.

 

 

The photos below are from around the same time.

 

The two photos below are from longer ago.

Fieldwork, Sweden, holding a thermos with coffee

One of my fieldwork areas in Spain