Short bio of Bernard

Bernard van Gastel is an assistant professor in Sustainable Digitalization working at the computing science institute of the Radboud University. Besides his research in analysis methods to predict the energy consumption of software and make that info available to software developers, he researches sustainability in a broader sense. This includes the effects of software on society, such as social effects, inclusion, equal opportunities, and privacy. He often works together with academics from other disciplines.

Presently, he is quartermaker for sustainability at the Institute for computing and information sciences (iCIS), for both research as education. There he is setting up the Software Energy Lab to measure the energy consumption of software. On the education side, he is integrating sustainability in the curriculum of computing science.

Regularly his work results in societal impact. For example, he found errors in solid state drives of vendors making two thirds of the worldwide storage devices. This resulted in adjustments in the Windows operating system and storage devices itself. He designed a large system for privacy-friendly storage of medical research data, so that the impact of data breaches is minimized.

He obtained his PhD from the Open University on assessing the sustainability of software, for which he developed new methods to analyze the energy consumption of software, memory, and correctness.

Overview of Bernard

Expertise His field of expertise is sustainability of software, software/hardware interaction, analyzing resource consumption (such as energy and memory) using static analysis methods, and correctness verification of algorithms (e.g. concurrent) and hardware designs. He has written his PhD thesis (Open University, 2016) about methods to assess the sustainability of software. He also researches privacy aspects of software systems, from a security perspective with an eye on societal impact of digital systems. This includes methods to reuse (recycle) security software, and apply it in a different context.

Impact His research currently focuses on sustainable software. He is asked regularly as expert by the Dutch government on this subject, on strategies how to reduce the energy consumption of software. He is currently an advisor to Logius and Rijkswaterstaat on how to calculate and reduce the carbon emissions of software. He is part of the National Coalition on Sustainable Digitalization (Nationale Coalitie voor Duurzame Digitalisering) On this sustainable digitalization topic, he regularly has media appearances (see below). In the past, he did a security analysis of modern solid state drives (SSDs), yielding severe shortcomings in the firmware of the SSDs and the default settings of the disk encryption built into Microsoft Windows, called BitLocker. The public release in 2018 resulted in worldwide media attention: 160+ news venues worldwide wrote a story about this research. In response firmware updates were released by manufacturers such as Microsoft, Crucial, Samsung, and Western Digital (SanDisk). This work has been nominated for the Dutch Cyber Security Best Research Paper (DCSRP) Award in 2020. His PhD thesis on sustainable software was selected to be the nominee of the faculty for the three yearly Open University Research price for best PhD thesis (called the 'Wetenschapsprijs').

Outreach Regularly Bernard appears in media, e.g. he was interviewed live on national television during prime time by Petra Grijzen in the program Atlas about the COVID QR passports that were required in the Netherlands. Sophie Frankenmolen interviewed him in her NPO 3FM series Bijvangst, about his SSD discovery. He regularly gives guest lectures, both in industry as academia. He is also involved in outreach, to communicate research results to society. One of these initiatives is the Sphere Transgression Watch, a large dataset and visualization of how big tech is entering all aspects of our lives. He is a member of the digital ethics committee of the municipality of Nijmegen.

Research During his academic career he participated actively in international networks and projects such as the TACLe COST Action (IC1202) about worst case execution time, the CHARTER project (Artemis project, 100039), and a hardware verification project directly funded by Intel. This resulted in an invited talk at PASS'17, co-located during the <Programming> 2017 conference, and participation as lecturer at several summer schools (IPA and the international TACLe summer school). His SSD paper was nominated for best Dutch security paper (see above). The iHub department Bernard was working in 2022 received the Ammodo Science award for fundamental research in Humanities (he was one of the researchers showcased in the application, €1.2m). An interdisciplinary team Bernard was part of received an ERC Proof-of-Concept grant to work on the perception of the privacy impact of mental health apps.

Management Bernard set up the Software Energy Lab at the Software Science, to measure the energy consumption of software using detailed measurements. At Radboud University's iHub, the interdisciplinary hub for digitalization and society, he set up the experimental in-house laboratory of iHub. iLab’s aim is to offer the technical substrate to iHub’s interdisciplinary research and to experiment with and develop new value-driven proofs of concept and software that puts scientific insights into practice and acts as a means of gaining new scientific knowledge. People in the lab also worked on some larger projects, that are either digital infrastructure or scale out projects. During his tenure at the lab, the lab has grown from 3 employees in 2020 to 12 in 2022, with 8 additional hires yet to be arriving (when he switched positions).

Projects During his tenured academic positions, he was responsible for projects worth over €2.2 million, including the PEP project (€1.7 million), the REACT project (€300k), ERC Proof-of-Concept about privacy of mental health apps (€150k), and Twid (€50k). Between 2016 and 2022 he was the tech lead of the privacy enhancing Polymorphic Encryption and Pseudonymisation (PEP) project, which aims to increase the privacy of participants in big scale medical data collection projects. This project aims to create a real-world impact. PEP systems store multiple research data sets in a state-of-the-art privacy-friendly way, currently > 500 TiB of data. He secured 10-year funding for the PEP team for 3 employees (value approx. €3 million).

Education He created several new courses, such as networking and AppLab, after proposing changes to the curriculum at the Open University. The latter course was a new concept designed to fill the gap between programming courses and working on an actual project in a team. The students set their own end goals by imagining their own app (in groups of 4) and implement this app. This includes both the client and the central component. They use modern tooling as used in the working field (like CI/CD). This new course was the best new course in our faculty, and therefore yielded a nomination for the best new education project at the Open University ('Onderwijsproduct van het jaar') in 2019. He is currently creating several courses on sustainability and computing science. At Radboud University, he was nominated for the Science teacher of the year in 2022. He obtained his teaching qualification (BKO) in 2018 at the Open University.

Awards and nominations

  • 2022 Won the Ammodo Science award for fundamental research (in Humanities). Read more.

  • 2022 Nominated for the teacher of the year award at the faculty of science.

  • 2020 Our paper on the SSD security (published at Security and Privacy 2019) was nominated for the Dutch Cyber Security Best Research Paper (DCSRP) Award in 2020.

  • 2019 Our new course AppLab was nominated for best education innovation award at the Open University.

  • 2018 Best PhD thesis of the faculty, nominee for the three yearly Open University Research price.


Currently, I teach three courses at the Radboud University:

I'm working on two new sustainability courses.

A list of graduated students can be found here under 'Research'.

I used to teach the following courses:

  • AppLab 2018-2020 (created in 2018 this course from scratch to fill a gap in the curriculum at OU, the best new course in faculty, nominee of the best new course at the Open University).

  • Computer netwerken 2017-2020 (created in 2017 from scratch at the Open University).

  • Concepten van programmeertalen 2016-2017 (at the Open University).

  • Logica and informatica 2016 (at the Open University).

  • Programming courses 2015-2020 (several at the Open University).

  • Besturingssystemen 2015-2020 (at the Open University, redesigned for new book).

  • Operating systems 2016+2017 (at Radboud University, redisgned for new book and converted to English).

  • Werking van computersystemen (at the Open University).

  • Software analysis 2010-2018 (at Radboud University, former name Reliability of Software Systems).

Other activities

  • Digital ethical board (digitaal ethische commissie) of the municipality of Nijmegen, 2022-

  • Ethical review board for computer science at Open University, 2018-2020