The top professor at VU University Amsterdam never stops studying. Always curious about things he doesn’t understand, Peter Nijkamp is continually taking up new research topics - which often develop into flourishing fields of science. And when he has mastered them, the leading economist turns his gaze in yet another direction.
Peter Nijkamp (born in 1946) would like to be a student again. Law, maybe, biology, or history. And yet, as the first university professor at VU University Amsterdam, he seems to be right at the other end of the scale. This spatial economist is at the very peak of the pyramid. He has more freedom than other professors, more research funding and no administrative or teaching obligations.
In fact, this set-up does allow Peter Nijkamp to remain something of a student. One who has always worked hard because everything was so interesting, and now has a bit more free time to devote to the topics that really fascinate him. Not a bad position for someone with the wide range of interests he has. Thanks to his reputation, people keep on turning up with exciting new jobs. "You’d be astonished at the vast array of things that get presented to me every day," he says. "Fortunately, I have no trouble switching from one topic to another. I’m a real workaholic, but my interests cover a wide field of science and policy, and I couldn’t be happier in my work." He doesn’t need much sleep, is often the first to turn up in the morning and finds it difficult to tear himself away in the evening even after everyone else is long gone.