I'am Stephan van der Zwaard, born on March 27th 1990 in Kudelstaart, a small town south of Amsterdam in The Netherlands. During high school, I enjoyed to learn about exercise physiology and in 2008 I started studying Human Movement Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In 2011, I obtained my Bachelor's degree cum laude and finished the Honours Program, and in 2013, I obtained my Master's degree cum laude.

During my master's, I was awarded the prestigious Gerrit-Jan van Ingen Schenau Award, which enabled me study abroad in the USA. Here, I investigated competitive exercise in elderly patients in comparison to athletes at the University of La-Crosse Wisconsin with Prof. Foster, a renowned expert in Exercise Physiology. Also, I did a clinical internship at the Gundersen-Lutheran hospital. These internships inspired me to understand how humans (from patients to athletes) surpass their own physical limitations.


I started my PhD to unravel whether elite athletes can combine high sprint and endurance performances. Using novel integrative physiological profiles, I elucidated key physiological determinants to combine high sprint and endurance performances. My doctoral research was well received and awarded three prestigious Doctoral Thesis Awards (1st in Human Movement Sciences, 1st in Physiology and 2nd in Sports Medicine) and an Outstanding Paper Award (Amsterdam Movement Sciences). 

After my doctorate, I expanded my competence in Data Science and obtained a degree in Business Analytics and Data Science and worked as a data scientist in industry to broaden my horizons. With my unique background in these complementary fields, I now work as data scientist at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science and assistant professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

When I am not at work, I love to run and play (indoor) soccer. I did the Amsterdam marathon twice and the next one on my bucket list is the half marathon of Texel, my favorite Dutch island. Also, I enjoy doing errands with my father in law. And I just became the proud dad of our daughter Jackie.


This is what I’m doing now, based on the concept by Derek Sivers and Rick Pastoor.


Last updated on March 30th, 2021.

  • Living in Aalsmeer, with my wife Pascal

  • Spending time with my daughter Jackie

  • It is my mission to combine data science, sports science and physiology, and to investigate critical determinants of physical performance and how to surpass physical limitations from athletes to patients.

  • I'm an assistant professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, teaching the master's course Data in Sport and Health for Human Movement Scientists

  • As a data scientist, I work at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science from the Leiden University

  • Currently, I'm helping to develop the national research and analytics platform Sport Data Valley