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Henk Wals appointed new director of national data institute DANS
11 February 2020
On April 1, Henk Wals will take up the directorship of DANS, the Dutch institute of KNAW and NWO for permanent access to digital research data. He succeeds Peter Doorn, who has expressed his desire to step down after 15 years.
Under Doorn’s leadership, DANS has grown into a key part of the national data infrastructure. Time and again the institute moved with the radical changes in the research data landscape. Only recently, the independent committee for the evaluation of KNAW institutes’ portfolios concluded that “DANS with its digital archiving and network services unmistakably contributes to the transparency of Dutch research.” Partly due to Doorn’s efforts, DANS is now a vital, first-class institute with a strong international reputation. KNAW and NWO are therefore pleased that Peter Doorn will remain involved with DANS as an advisor.
Complex data landscape
Whether it’s big and long-tail data, open science, globalisation of science, or academic data repositories at private companies, DANS will continue to anticipate new user needs to maintain and strengthen its unique position as a national service and expertise centre for digital research data. KNAW and NWO are confident that Henk Wals, in consultation with his predecessor and the entire DANS staff, will develop an appealing and future-oriented vision of the increasingly important role which DANS has to play in a complex data landscape.
Henk Wals is a socioeconomic historian. He studied and obtained his PhD at the University of Amsterdam. He was the director at Huygens-ING and, most recently, general director of the International Institute of Social History (IISH). For his own research, Henk Wals built his first databases decades ago. Both of the institutes he led are data centres in their field of expertise and play an important role in the development of the digital infrastructure for the humanities. Henk Wals is convinced of the central role DANS has to play in the Dutch data landscape. In his view, it is important that the institute as an organisation remains close to the research itself in order to continue to respond efficiently and effectively to developments within the various disciplines.
In 1989, Peter Doorn was one of the initiators of the Dutch Historical Data Archive (NHDA), which became part of DANS in 2005. He has worked with data in various ways throughout his scientific career: as a researcher, as a developer, as a service provider, as an initiator of research infrastructures and quality labels, as a policy maker, and as a leader of national and international data organisations. In the coming years, Peter Doorn will remain involved with the institute as a consultant and a researcher.
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