Professor Raymond van Ee took a break from his busy teaching and research schedule to tell us about his academic life, his research and its contribution to society. He also shared with us his impressions of Bogotá, and the Universidad de los Andes School of Management.
- When and why did you decide to pursue an academic career?
Initially, I actually wanted a different academic career: astronomy and physics. But then, I realized that I wasn't a genius and, in order to come up with new findings inside the universe, you have to be a genius. Then I thought I would turn the telescope around so I was no longer looking at the stars but at our brain. In psychology, at the time, people didn't really know how neurons in the brain communicated, so there was a real new niche to explore. Even though I wasn't a genius, I came up with something really new and people liked it, which opened many doors.
- What research areas would you like to develop in the future? (Raymond’s main research interests include neuro-physics, brain architecture, and multisensory psychophysics)
The gamification of healthcare applications is one of them. I would like to add a fun element to therapies. For example, you might be a young person and your therapist might tell you to do certain exercises, but they are often boring, so you don't do them, meaning that healthcare isn't efficient. In Europe, taxpayers pay for healthcare, so it is better to have an efficient system. Like this, I try to gain interest from insurance companies in order for them to reimburse people who could follow other types of therapy through gamification. The fun and engagement would commit these young people to their therapy, making the process more efficient. I have been working on this for a year already, but there is still a lot to do for the coming ten years or so.
- How does your work contribute to society as a whole?
A specific contribution to society is making healthcare more affordable. If we don't do anything when you get old and need healthcare, there will simply not be enough young nurses. There are simply too many adults in relation to young children in Europe and the US today and, at some point, those few young people will simply not be able to pay for all the healthcare demand. We really need to change policies, and come up with innovative solutions.
- How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
- Please tell us a special anecdote from your academic life.
Well the one thing that made me change my life and go into healthcare was the fact that one of my very close colleagues had a stroke. It made me realize how little hospitals knew about neuroscience and that made me think that I could help more.
- During your visit, what surprised you about Colombia?
I see all these happy people around me. I was given a tour around the campus and the sports complex. People seem really happy, relaxed. In Bogotá, people look proud and happy to live in this nice city despite the crazy traffic! They don't seem stressed and they are very friendly.
- What would you highlight from your visit to Universidad de los Andes School of Management?
It is impressive to see how good the Sports Centre is. There seems to be lots of money to really organize things well. In the International Relations Office's presentation, it was impressive to see the number of students, the number of collaborations. It is impressive what you guys are doing. So the keywords are friendly and impressive. I have been, of course, to many schools over the past years and this is really an exception in how things are organized, even in relation to the top schools in the US like Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley.
The host, assistant professor at UASM, Dr. Felipe Reinoso Carvalho, tells us about why Professor van Ee is visiting the School of Management:
- How do you know the professor? What are his main research links?
Professor Raymond van Ee was one of my PhD supervisors. Since then, we have built a strong and interdisciplinary relationship, producing around 15 scientific publications together, and discussing novel ways to use our research to benefit society. Most of this work has focused on promoting a better understanding of the fundamentals of multisensory perception, and how to apply such ideas in the context of experience design for consumers.
- What is the main purpose of the professor’s visit?
The main purpose of this visit is to discuss innovation in the field of neurosciences with Uniandes students, professors, and researchers, from a business and marketing perspective. We will also use this opportunity to highlight interdisciplinary R&D collaborative opportunities with different stakeholders at Uniandes.
- Why is it important to have this professor at the School?
Professor van Ee is a lead researcher at Philips Research (one of the most interesting R&D facilities in the world when it comes to innovation in lifestyle and healthcare), where he communicates on a weekly basis with the marketing department to see how his neuroscientific inventions can address unmet needs in the field of healthcare. He is also a full professor at the Department of Psychology at Leuven University, and a Full Professor at the Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behavior. At these universities he also guides students on how to turn scientific ideas into products on the market. He is regularly invited to universities to teach marketing and career development for people who wish to combine science and company product development. It is important to mention as well that, as a post-doc, Raymond worked at MIT and Berkeley, some of the most renowned scientific institutions in the world. As a researcher, he is used to publish at the highest level (Nature, Trends/Cell, PNAS, Journal of Neuroscience, etc.). I think we could learn a lot about his experience and research abilities.
- What are the expectations in terms of his research contribution to the academic area?
Raymond focuses part of his R&D work for the development of rehabilitation tools for stroke patients. This involves quite some marketing insights in order to develop different business models. He has discussed the employment of these novel multisensory tools with Philips, hospitals, and insurance companies. The involvement of insurance companies in particular is vital in sustainable business models in healthcare. He has conducted quite a few studies in hospitals that help to develop business models for healthcare. All of this seems to be strategic information that would be interesting to share with the Uniandes community. We see a great deal of insights geared towards healthcare, not necessarily from a medical perspective, but rather from a market/business perspective.
This visit will also be a great opportunity to share Raymond's expertise in patent applications at the highest level; in fact, he is now involved in the application of more than 85 of these. It is also interesting to mention that 10 of these applications pertain to products related to multisensory applications. Multisensory experiential design is one of the core areas of expertise that I am bringing to UASM's marketing area. Hence, we could use Raymond’s visit to communicate such initiatives throughout the School and the university as a whole -and, why not- throughout the country.PROFESSOR´S CV