Where are they now: Daniël Lakens awarded €800,000 Vidi grant

When remarkable people do remarkable things, we call them a genius. But if you heard Daniël Lakens speak last year at TEDxEindhoven 2016, you’ll know that he disagrees. Innovation is not simply the result of remarkable people.

Daniël is an experimental-psychological researcher and Assistant Professor of Human-Technology Interaction at TU/e. He believes innovation happens because many people working on a problem generates enough activity for a random act of remarkableness to occur.

In May, Daniël received a Vidi grant of 800,000 euros for his project, “Increasing the Reliability and Efficiency of Psychological Science”. This means he can employ two PhD students and a PostDoc researcher to investigate how psychologists can generate empirical knowledge as efficiently as possible, taking into account both statistical aspects and the resources and aims of researchers.

Daniël’s increasing interest in the methodology and reliability of science itself combined with his social-psychological research will hopefully lead to recommendations that will make psychological research both more reliable and more efficient in the future.

Check out Daniël’s TEDxEindhoven talk, “If not me, then someone else; But if not us, then no one”.

We were lucky enough to interview Daniël for this post - here's what he said...

Q: Any update on your research since receiving the Vidi?
Daniël: It’s been just two months, but I’ve been very lucky to already find two excellent PhD students who will start in October. The VIDI grant has made my interest in this topic more visible, and many people have reached out to collaborate. I hope to be able to generate enough activity, with a large enough group of people, so that something exciting will happen.

Q: What was the most valuable thing you learnt from speaking at TEDxEindhoven?
Daniël: Try to share ideas you really believe in with as many people as possible.

Q: Have you ever had a Lightbulb Moment? If so, what was it and how did it change you?
Daniël: I used to think that somewhere, there are people who know what they are doing, and who are doing things in a specific way, because it’s the best possible way. Somewhere after completing my PhD, I realized that in reality, there are just a lot of people trying their best. And it’s important to every now and then take a step back and reflect on why you are doing something – and whether there might be better ways to achieve the things you care most about.

Q: What’s the next big plan for your research that we can get excited about?
Daniël: I’m really interested in ways to make science less about single individuals, and more about larger scale collaborations. I’ll think about when and where such collaborations might be especially important, and think of ways to make science in those areas more collaborative.

Q: What's your favourite quote?
Daniël: "Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.

Good luck, Daniël - from TEDxEindhoven!

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