PDPC Newsflash

About once every two months, a newsletter is sent out from PDPC, containing all the latest updates on pandemic and disaster news and research.

Read the first PDPC newsletter below.


Nr. 01 – Week 10


PDPC Kick-off Frontrunner Projects | January 31st, 2023

Principle investigators, postdocs, and freshly started PhD students alike gathered on January 31st at the Machinist in Rotterdam to kickstart the PDPC Frontrunner projects. Professor of Empirical Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, and one of the PDPC leads, Pearl Dykstra said: ‘The Frontrunner projects each address crucial questions about pandemics, disasters, social sciences, policies, and so on. And each requires a new approach and transdisciplinary collaboration. That is why it is great to see all these brilliant minds gathered here today.’

Marion Koopmans, Scientific Director of the PDPC and Professor in Virology, reminded everyone of the importance of transdisciplinary research: ‘We have a lot of expertise in the room. Each and every one looks at different aspects of the problems we face. Only by working together and combining different disciplines we can take the steps needed for preparedness.’

Read more about the event 


Kick-off PDPC Frontrunner Project 2 | March 7th, 2023
Predicting, measuring and quantifying airborne virus transmission

During the COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical interventions were key to mitigate the impact, like keeping distance, washing hands, wearing facemasks and cleaning surfaces. These interventions will remain the key throughout many epidemics and pandemics. Many mitigation strategies target to the modes of virus transmission via direct contact, indirect contact and in large or small droplets.

There is still a lot unknown about the contribution of various transmission routes, even after the COVID-19 pandemic. In this frontrunner project we want to gain a greater understanding of the route of transmission of respiratory viruses in order to work on strategies to reduce that spread.

During the kick-off the 4 subprojects were presented by the PhD’s and the PI’s. There was a vivid discussion between the participants in which became clear that exchanging perspectives helps to improve the quality of each individual project. All participants went home inspired, with a lot of new insights and new ideas for their own research project and for important crossovers between the several projects.

Read more


Kick-off PDPC Frontrunner Project 4 | March 7th, 2023
Social and Urban Resilience for Pandemics and Disasters

On March 7th, principle investigators, PhD students and postdocs gathered to celebrate the kick-off of the PDPC frontrunner: Social and Urban Resilience for Pandemics and Disasters (SURE) project, at the Gemaal op Zuid in Rotterdam.

Resilience is the ability of a person, household or community to offer resistance to, adapt to or recover from a crisis. Within subprojects it will be researched how society’s resilience can be improved. The knowledge gained will be used for the Living Lab.

Maarten van Ham kicked off the day, followed by a birds-eye view on the SURE project by Pearl Dykstra, where she reminded everyone that “We need ambassadors within the social sciences. We must unite”.

Next, interactive sessions took place on how we understand resilience, led by Guusje Enneking and Lotte Schrijver. Resilience needs to be studied and addressed on an individual, group, and system level.

Lastly, Kevin Pijpers gave an introduction to the Living Lab. Examples of existing living labs were given, followed by group discussions on e.g. how to actively involve the citizens in the living lab.

Read more


Kick-off PDPC Frontrunner Project 1 | January 17th, 2023
Changes in the weather and adaptions to it in the landscape bring new opportunities for vectors of viruses

On Tuesday the 17th of January Frontrunner project 1 was launched! Changes in the weather and adaptions to it in the landscape bring new opportunities for vectors of viruses. The guest presentations of Frank Schelten (KNMI) on the expected changes of the climate in our delta and Fransje Hooijmeier (TUDelft) on the changes in land use responding to current demands, but staying within the boundaries defined in previous decades brought new questions to the table and confirmed others.

It provided valuable input for further developing the thinking in terms of ‘urban tiles’ – also used in a related project, which locations to select as living labs, and thinking about determining factors when it comes to realizing changes. Planning and design are often slow processes. Thinking ahead of how to inform relevant stakeholders on the outcomes of the project is very important. How do they want the results to be presented to them and how we can understand uncertainties and reduce these.

Urban tiles, scenarios, mosquito and bird data all combined may be very relevant input for future land use decisions.

Read more


Kick-off PDPC Frontrunner Project 3 | December 9th, 2022
The Pandemic lessons for flood disaster preparedness project

On Friday December 9th, we celebrated the kick-off of the Pandemic lessons for flood disaster preparedness project – part of the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center. Historically, floods have often disrupted the regular functioning of healthcare. So the question is: How can we better prepare the healthcare sector for largescale floods?

We are going to identify the biggest risks, look into decision-making procedures during a flood and into how to best organize the transport of people and means under difficult circumstances.

From different areas of expertise and together with relevant partners and citizens, we will learn from previous experiences – also gained during the Covid-19 pandemic – and practice with new knowledge in simulated environments. In this way, we will contribute to a resilient healthcare system.

Read more


The Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Center to collaborate with the Pandemic Center of the University of Bergen

Two representatives of PDPC visited the Pandemic Centre (Pandemisenteret) at the University of Bergen (Norway), in the second week of January to explore possible collaborations.

The vision of the Pandemisenteret is to initiate relevant scientific knowledge for the purpose of preventing and managing pandemics in a long term perspective. The center aims to commence and organize interdisciplinary research and education related to pandemics. Pandemisenteret and PDPC both want to achieve the same and see many opportunities for cooperation in the future.

From the left to the right: Jeanette de Boer, Esperanza Diaz, Andrea Magugliani and Linda Jansen.

Read more


erasmus uni
NWO Roadmap Grant for Digital Infrastructure Social Sciences and Humanities

February 28, 2023

The collaboration between ODISSEI (Open Data Infrastructure for Social Science and Economic Innovations) – and CLARIAH (Common Lab Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities) and fifteen national partners has been awarded a Dutch Research Council (NWO) Large-scale Research Infrastructure Grant of €15.2 million. This new collaboration, Social Science and Humanities Open Cloud for the Netherlands (SSHOC-NL) will make it possible for researchers to securely and ethically link and analyse a huge range of data such as historical records, textual data, images, survey data, and social media data. This will help researchers address some of the most pressing issues that society faces such as polarisation, social inequalities, and environmental changes. SSHOC-NL builds the digital infrastructure to help researchers do that.


“SSHOC-NL is an internationally unique effort, and an exciting one. The social sciences and humanities have joined forces to provide researchers with the computational skills, enriched data and secure services that will help them analyse societal transformations, crises and divides in ways that were impossible before. I am therefore very pleased with this wonderful grant that makes it possible to achieve this.” tells Pearl Dykstra, Scientific Director ODISSEI.

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New report: towards a resilient healthcare system

February 2, 2023

Researchers from the Erasmus University, Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management, released a report on resilient healthcare systems.

From the start of the corona pandemic, researchers from Erasmus University shadowed the healthcare crisis organization. This week they released their final report: ‘Naar een veerkrachtig zorgsysteem: Lessen uit de pandemie’, in Dutch. PDPC researcher Roland Bal collaborated on this report, which builds on an earlier interim report, a symposium, and several international publications.

Download report here


Beijerinck Virology Prize awarded to Ron Fouchier

January 18, 2023

Leading virologist Ron Fouchier awarded Academy’s M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize. The €35,000 monetary award and a medal will be presented at the Dutch Annual Virology Symposium (DAVS) on 10 March 2023.

Ron Fouchier (born 1966) began his career researching HIV/AIDS but later switched to respiratory viruses such as influenza. Now he is one of the leading authorities on respiratory viruses and their impact on human and animal health.

Fouchier set up a research group within the Department of Viroscience at the Erasmus University Medical Centre (Rotterdam) to study the molecular biology and evolution of influenza viruses. With his team, he discovered and characterised a number of newly emerging respiratory viruses, including several corona viruses and a new avian influenza (“bird flu”) virus.

As professor of molecular virology at the Erasmus Medical Centre, Fouchier studies how viruses evolve and can become pathogenic, switch hosts, become airborne, and escape the host’s immune system. He uses his findings to develop applications for human and animal health. As managing director of the national influenza centre, he improved the methodology for selecting the optimum flu vaccine each year. In 1998, he launched a Dutch avian flu monitoring network, one of the world’s most effective and longest-running programmes.

Fouchier is also principal investigator of the research project Predicting, measuring and quantifying airborne virus transmission of the Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Centre. In this project, new methods for predicting, measuring and quantifying the spread of airborne viruses will be developed.

Read more


NWO grant for flood protection research

December 14, 2023

How do we use smart solutions to keep our feet dry? In the new NWO-funded program Future Flood Risk Management Technologies, program lead Bas Jonkman and his colleagues will create knowledge for flood protection of the river and coastal areas in the Netherlands and abroad.

Large areas of the Netherlands are at risk of being flooded. It was only last year, 2021, that rivers in the province of Limburg overflowed. A rise in sea levels and weather extremes caused by climate change calls for new technical and nature-based solutions for flood risk management and climate adaptation. The Future Flood Risk Management Technologies programme will receive an NWO Perspectief grant to work on flood-resilient and climate-adaptive coasts and rivers. Four Dutch universities and twenty-eight partners from companies, governments and abroad are participating in the program. They will research smart technical solutions, natural solutions and their implementation.

Want to know more? In the video that you can find in the button below, professor of hydraulic engineering and one of the initiators of the PDPC, Bas Jonkman, provides a two-minute overview of the program.

Read more and watch the video



BBC – How worried should we be about avian flu? Podcast
February 9th 2023, Marion Koopmans

The Economist – Could avian flu cause the next human pandemic? Podcast
February 15th 2023, Interview with Marion Koopmans

Al Jazeera – Could bird flu become a pandemic? | Inside Story
February 16th 2023, Marion Koopmans


The chances of another pandemic are small, but getting a little bigger every day

February 14, 2023

Interview with Thijs Kuiken

The bird flu virus has jumped to mammals, and that is worrisome. Will there be a variant infectious to humans and will we soon have a new pandemic?

Not a foregone conclusion, says virologist Thijs Kuiken, the bird flu expert. But the chance is growing. Vaccinating animals certainly helps. Still, the only sustainable solution is: far fewer poultry.

Prof. Thijs Kuiken is Professor of Comparative Pathology. Department; Viroscience; Focus area; Comparative pathology and Pathogenesis.

Listen to the podcast of ‘De Correspondent’ (in Dutch)


Preparing for the next pandemic

December 24, 2023

An eminent panel of disease detectives – including our PDPC Science Director prof. Marion Koopmans – spells out why the risks are increasing and most importantly, what we can do to predict, prepare and protect ourselves against potentially devastating new outbreaks.

Will the next infectious disease to wreak havoc across the globe again jump from animals, a zoonotic jump across species?

Listen to the podcast from the BBC


The Hour (‘Het Uur’) with virologist Marion Koopmans

December 19, 2023

A podcast from the NRC with PDPC initiator and scientific director Prof. Marion Koopmans

“The last three years feel like a rollercoaster. Deploying everything you know and actually more than that.

To be better prepared for new pandemics and disasters in the future, it is important to reflect on what we have experienced, what are we going to do with the experience of the past years? What knowledge do we want to try to strengthen for the future? What do you need to organize now, to be able to do certain things better in the future?

With the PDPC I would like to establish a stable institute, a knowledge institute that incorporates that complexity and multidisciplinarity that we need in disasters and pandemics. A nice running dynamic “beehive” for collaboration and thinking about the future.”

Listen to the podcast (Dutch)


Get to know PDPC


PDPC PhD’s and Postdocs!

A first selection of introductions of PhD and postdoc candidates

Yared Abayneh

Dr Yared Abayneh Abebe is a Postdoc Researcher at Delft University of Technology. He is mainly involved in the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC) frontrunner project Pandemic lessons for flood disaster preparedness. His research focuses on exploring the impact of large-scale floods on healthcare system infrastructure, especially developing flood hazard scenarios, quantifying direct and indirect health impacts and analyzing the effects of various preparedness strategies/measures. As a flood and hurricane risk management expert, it is exciting to learn from and contribute to the PDPC project, which broadens his research portfolio. Yared also values the collaboration with experts in disaster logistics, crisis management and health system governance from TU Delft, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Erasmus MC.

Jordy van der Beek

Hi! My name is Jordy van der Beek and I’m very happy to join the PDPC as a PhD student in 2023. I’ve studied Biology at Leiden University in the Netherlands with a specialization in Biodiversity and Sustainability. The recurring themes in my research are taxonomy and ecology, with a strong focus on mosquitoes. I’m actually writing this introduction from Bonaire, while conducting the first large mosquito inventory on the Dutch ABC-islands in 75 years. I like the way mosquito biodiversity, ecosystem health and public/veterinary/wildlife health are so strongly connected. I am really looking forward working on these interdisciplinary topics in the PDPC with the fellow PhD students and the many other researchers in the coming years.

Lotte Schrijver

I just started working as a PhD candidate at the EUR and WUR. I’ll be focusing on misinformation in the Covid pandemic; I am currently working on developing an algorithm that can detect misinformation. I am hoping to contribute to the PDPC by generating more knowledge on the effects of misinformation on Dutch society, and possible interventions. In my master’s I focused on ethnic inequality, so I am also interested in understanding the implications of the pandemic for different vulnerable groups. One of the reasons I wanted to work at the PDPC is its ambition to bring different disciplines together, so I am looking forward to finding ways to collaborate!

Tijmen Hartung

Hello, my name is Tijmen and starting February 1st I will begin my PhD on “Climate change & vector-borne disease -The role of bird reservoirs”. I am very excited to begin due to my fascination with the role and functioning of diseases and vectors in ecosystems. In my master’s I worked with vectors for both of my theses, so this project and being part of PDPC seems right up my alley! During my PhD, I hope to make worthwhile contributions to understanding disease risk in the future, with the goal of safeguarding public health in a changing climate.

Arghyanir Giri

My name is Arghyanir Giri, I am a PhD candidate at the department of Architecture and Built environment TU Delft. I have done my Bachelors and Masters in Aerospace Engineering from IIT Kharagpur. I am 22 years old and I moved to The Netherlands from India this March for my PhD. I specialise in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and during the pandemic, my focus of research pivoted from sustainable aviation to airborne transmission of pathogens as it was a concern that needed urgent attention and unfortunately even today it is a major cause of concern. The project was a collaboration study with scientists and aerosol experts about the interaction of pathogen-laden respiratory jets during a face-to-face conversation. Working with the PDPC on the frontrunner project 2 enables me to double down on this endeavor by collaborating with people from public health sector and pairing it with the power of numerical modelling that will lead us to profound insights and better public health guidelines.

Julien Magana

I am a 23-year-old Frenchman who recently graduated from Sorbonne University, and I will be working with the PDPC on the project “Pandemic Lessons for Flood Disaster Preparedness.” So far in my academic career, I have studied at several universities through various programs, gaining professional, technological, and lately research-oriented knowledge. During these years, I had the opportunity to do several internships in France and the Netherlands, as well as an international stay to study for a year at a Czech university, all of which contributed to my personality and state of mind, which I would describe as open, curious, and international oriented. I believe that my previous years of academic experience will enable me to contribute some professional and field-specific knowledge to the project. My desire to work with PDPC through this PhD position is to be a part of a diverse work team working on a very stimulating human-related and inter-disciplinary topic.

Guusje Enneking

I am Guusje Enneking, a PhD candidate for the Frontrunner project about social and urban resilience, based at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Within the sub-project I aim to understand the importance of a social infrastructure in disadvantaged neighbourhoods for building bridges between residents and (local) public institutions, particularly in times of pandemics or disasters. Within the PDPC, I am specifically interested in researching how pandemics and disasters expose and deepen existing social inequalities and how this is (potentially) related to spatial characteristics. From my background in sociology and architecture, I hope to bring a socio-spatial perspective to the project.


Welcome in the PDPC team

Eline Boezelman

My name is Eline Boezelman and since the 1st of February I’m the secretary for the Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness Center. I strongly believe that complex societal challenges can be solved by intensive collaboration between organizations, institutions and communities. In my role as secretary I’m serving this purpose by bringing groups and individuals together. Outside my work I love to go camping with my family and dog and I enjoy running outdoors. Hope to meet you soon!


PhD Integrated Early Warning Surveillance
Develop and Refine Sampling Systems for Water- and Airborne Viruses

More information


Postdoc on the development, validation and application of serological assays to understand epidemiology and spread of viruses in the human and animal populations

More information



September 19th, 2023 – PDPC Annual Meeting