Henk Wals new director of Netherlands data institute DANS

11 February 2020

Henk Wals has been appointed as the new director of DANS, the Netherlands institute for permanent access to digital research resources, effective 1 April 2020. DANS is a joint institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and research funding organisation NWO. Wals succeeds Peter Doorn, who has decided to step down after fifteen years.

Rock-solid reputation

Under Doorn’s leadership, DANS has grown into a major component of the national data infrastructure. Time and again, the institute has kept pace with radical changes in the world of research data. Recently, an independent review committee concluded that ‘DANS makes an unmistakable contribution to the transparency of Dutch science with its digital archives and network services’. Thanks in part to Doorn’s efforts, DANS is a vibrant institute of outstanding quality with a rock-solid international reputation. The Academy and the NWO are therefore pleased that Doorn will continue his involvement in DANS in an advisory capacity.

Complex data landscape

Whether the topic is big data and long-tail data, Open Science, the globalisation of science, or university data repositories at private companies, DANS will continue to anticipate new user needs so as to maintain and boost its unique status as a national service and expertise centre for digital research data. The Academy and the NWO are confident that Wals, in consultation with his predecessor and DANS staff, will develop an appealing and forward-looking vision of DANS’s increasingly important role in the complex data landscape.

20200211-Henk-Wals-foto-iisgHenk Wals

Henk Wals is a socio-economic historian. He studied at the University of Amsterdam, where he obtained his doctorate. Wals was previously the director of the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands and, subsequently, of the International Institute of Social History (IISH). Henk Wals built his first databases for his own research decades ago. Both of the institutes that he has headed are data centres in their fields and are playing an important role in building a digital infrastructure for the humanities. Wals envisages a pivotal role for DANS in the Dutch data landscape. He considers it important for the institute to maintain close ties with research as organisation, so that it can continue to respond effectively to trends within the various disciplines.

Peter Doorn

In 1989, Peter Doorn was one of the initiators of the Netherlands 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 originator of research infrastructures and quality labels, as a policymaker, and as the head of Dutch and international data organisations. In the years ahead, Doorn will continue his involvement with the institute as an adviser and researcher.