Beyond the scientist: Nel Roeleveld

Nel rugby.jpg

Nel Roeleveld, associate professor of Reproductive Epidemiology at the department for Health Evidence

Where and when were you born?

On a farm in Schipluiden, which is located in South-Holland on a straight line between The Hague and Rotterdam, in January 1959.

Where do you live and with whom?

Since 2010, I live in Groesbeek, a small but very nice town in the hills close to Nijmegen. I share my property with numerous birds in the garden, fish in the pond, and a few very noisy frogs.

Who was your role model when you were a kid?

My father, who managed our large dairy farm very efficiently, but with lots of love for the cows and the surrounding land. Fortunately, he hated (smelly) pigs, so we did not have any.

Why aren’t you doing the same thing now as your role model (or do you?)

From a very young age, I helped out on the farm and wanted to become the first female farmer in our region. But when the decision had to be made about me succeeding my father, I was 15 years old and doing quite well in school… In addition, my mother threatened that I would have to marry a farmer. So I ended up being an unmarried epidemiologist.

What is the thing in your (work or other) history that you are most proud of?

Playing a role in the development of – talented but sometimes very timid or insecure – students and junior researchers into independent, confident scientists with high methodological and ethical standards.    

What is it that you would like to achieve in work in the next 5 to 10 years?

More attention, appreciation, and funding – both inside and outside the Radboudumc – for epidemiologic research concerning pregnancy and (congenital) disorders in children, so my research group Reproductive Epidemiology will get a solid foundation from which we can better pursue our goal of a good start in life for everyone.

For what can we wake you up?

Almost anything; I hate sleeping!

What is your hobby and how good are you at it?

Playing, coaching and watching rugby (in that order over time). I guess I used to be pretty good, as I played in the National Women’s Rugby team for 6 years. Rugby – especially among women – is a very small sport in the Netherlands though.  

What is your biggest irritation?

Injustice, in all shapes and forms.

Who would you like to invite for dinner, if you had the chance?

John Eales, a former captain of the Australian National Rugby team and one of the best players ever on the number 4, which also used to be my position on the rugby pitch.  


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