Research topics that interest me most are applications of optimization and machine learning that help tackle pressing issues in people's lives, particularly applications in the medical or the humanitarian field. I am therefore involved in two lines of research. The first concerns the development of techniques that allow for the analysis of large genomics datasets. These techniques can be used by bioinformatics- or medical researchers to identify the genetic characteristics that cause a disease, which is a strong lead towards developing medication. The second line of research is in the humanitarian sector: I am a member of the Zero Hunger Lab, where our goal is to support organizations by developing optimization- and data analysis tools to improve their operations. In this way we help these organizations achieve sustainable development goal number 2: zero hunger. I very much enjoy collaborations with people in the medical or humanitarian sector as I get to learn from their expertise.


My expertise lies in optimization and machine learning. I work in interdisciplinary projects in bioinformatics, the medical field and the humanitarian sector.

Genetics: Many diseases that cannot be cured today have a genetic cause. In many cases the exact genetic characteristic that causes the disease is unknown, while knowing these would strongly help understanding the disease and developing medication. Currently large databases with genetic information of people with the studied disease and healthy individuals are composed. I develop to analyze these large datasets.

Zero Hunger Lab: every day 820 million people go to bed hungry. Many organizations are working hard to feed people around the world and help them improve their livelihoods so they can feed themselves. At the Zero Hunger Lab we use data analytics to help organizations improve their operations and gain new insights. We call this Bytes for Bits. Our goal is the help achieve sustainable development goal 2: zero hunger.


Current courses:

- Operations Research Methods (third year bachelor Econometrics & OR)

- Operations Research and Machine Learning (master Business Analytics & Operations Research)


Past Courses:

- Wiskunde 1 voor bedrijfseconomie (first year Economie & Bedrijfseconomie)

- Improving Society Lab (first year bachelor Econometrics & OR)



Bioinformatics and medical sector:

- dr. David Craft, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School

- dr. Steven Petit and dr. Nienke Hoffmans-Holzer, Erasmus Medical Center

- prof. dr. Alexander Schönhuth, Bielefeld University

- dr. Jan Veldink, Utrecht University Medical Center


Humanitarian sector:

- World Food Program

- Welthungerhilfe

- Solidaridad

Recent publications

  1. Forecasting the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 is inherently Ambiguous given th…

    Koenen, M., Balvert, M., Brekelmans, R., Stienen, V., & Wagenaar, J. (2020). Forecasting the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 is inherently Ambiguous given the Current State of Virus Research. (CentER Discussion Paper; Vol. 2020-026). CentER, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Eleven grand challenges in single-cell data science

    Laehnemann, D., Koester, J., Szczurek, E., McCarthy, D. J., Hicks, S. C., Robinson, M. D., Vallejos, C. A., Campbell, K. R., Beerenwinkel, N., Mahfouz, A., Pinello, L., Skums, P., Stamatakis, A., Attolini, C. S-O., Aparicio, S., Baaijens, J., Balvert, M., de Barbanson, B., Cappuccio, A., ... Schonhuth, A. (2020). Eleven grand challenges in single-cell data science. Genome biology, 21(1), [31].
  3. Artificial Intelligence - Understanding diseases that people cannot u…

    Balvert, M., & Schonhuth, A. (2019). Artificial Intelligence: Understanding diseases that people cannot understand? ERCIM News, (118), 19-20.
  4. Robust optimization of dose-volume metrics for prostate HDR-brachythe…

    Balvert, M., den Hertog, D., & Hoffmann, A. L. (2019). Robust optimization of dose-volume metrics for prostate HDR-brachytherapy incorporating target- and OAR volume delineation uncertainties. INFORMS Journal on Computing, 31(1), 100-114.
  5. Dynamic fluence map sequencing using piecewise linear leaf position f…

    Kelly, M., van Amerongen, J. H. M., Balvert, M., & Craft, D. (2019). Dynamic fluence map sequencing using piecewise linear leaf position functions. Biomedical physics & engineering express, 5(2), [025036].

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