Beyond the scientist: Debby Gerritsen

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Where and when were you born?

I was born in Winterswijk in the most eastern part of the east of the Netherlands in 1973. The Achterhoek was a great region to grow up in. 

Where do you live and with whom?

Since 12 years, I live in the most Eastern part of Nijmegen with my husband Jeroen and our two children Nora (11 years old) and Marius (8 years old). 

Who was your role model when you were a kid?

All members of the ‘Kinderen voor Kinderen’ choir, and especially Anita of the Dolly Dots. Unfortunately, I always had to be ‘Sjeel’ when we played ‘performing as the Dolly Dots’ because the most popular girl in my class wanted to be Anita. 

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

My high school exams included music, but my theoretical music skills were not that good. Looking back, I think I didn’t have the nerves to audition for the academy of music and since psychology always appealed to me, the choice was obvious at that time. 

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

Regarding my work history, this is our Lancet publication about the Act in case of Depression-trial. It was the first Dutch study in nursing home medicine ever to be published in such a high impact journal. 

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

To contribute significantly to a research climate in long term care, with professionals that have a high readiness to change. 

For what can we wake you up?

It is best not to wake me when this is not really necessary. 

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

I love to sing, and although I think I can sing quite purely, I get a bit jealous (and proud) when I hear my daughter singing with the vocal flexibility of for instance Beyoncé and Mariah Carey (light lyric coloratura). I am more comfortable with singing f.i. Barbra Streisand or Adele songs. 

What is your biggest irritation?

Digital devices that aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing. 

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

Michelle  Obama, because I would like to hear from her how she succeeds in being herself and making her own choices in a context that is highly demanding. And to hear some great inside info on the strange habits of world leaders.


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