Wouter is an interdisciplinary scientist by training, having received my M.Sc. in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh and a joint Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence and Communication Science from the VU Amsterdam. In the decade since being awarded a VENI grant on mediatized agenda setting, he has grown into a leading computational communication scientist, developing and using state of the art computational communication science techniques. Combining these computational techniques with traditional panel survey methods allows studying the effect of individual media diets, for example in the recent Dutch parliamentary elections.
His main research agenda is developing and applying the computational methods and tools needed to study media effects in a fragmented digital media landscape. His research directly contributes to this development by furthering pioneering work on data donation, where (fully informed and consenting) respondents donate a cleaned and minimized version of their social, mobile and digital news browsing history. A second key methodological part of his research agenda is the introduction, adaptation and validation of methods from AI and computational linguistics into communication science research. Recent years have seen enormous gains in the development of attention models in deep learning, but these are only very slowly being used in the social sciences. Wouter has also co-founded and chaired the Computational Methods division in the international scientific association ICA, and has founded and is editor-in-chief of a new open access journal Computational Communication Research published by Amsterdam University Press and sponsored by multiple international universities.