In 2019, Diego Candia Riquelme joined our department as PhD student, supervised by Erik Verhoef. Diego studied industrial engineering and completed a master in transportation engineering at the University of Chili.

What exactly do you study?

I mostly do modelling on urban congestion, and interaction with labour taxes for now. The more general framework of that is to study congestion and the economic effects of that. And I  studied the use of travel permits within the framework of U-PASS (Urban Public Administration and ServiceS Innovation for Innovative Urban Mobility Management and Policy)

Photography by Xiao Yu

How is your work progressing?

Sometimes I think I could do better, but if I talk to other PhD students, I know that almost everyone feels like that. That is the reason why it is so important to talk to each other. We all have the same preoccupation when it comes to our work and our progress.

How do you experience the way of life in the Netherlands?

When I arrived here, I was very happy because everything was good and easy.  It was easy to get into contact with people in general. But then came covid and things became much more difficult.  In general I must say that working at the university feels similar to working at the university in Chili, the context is the same. The transport department at the department in Chili was very small, so we, as students, were very close to professors, but probably this was not the norm in Chili. I experience the same horizontal hierarchy at the department of Spatial Economics.

Striking differences?

Lunch. In Chili we have lunch for two hours. We have a warm meal, and talk a lot during lunch with other students. Here lunch is quick-quick. However, this has the advantage that you finish working earlier, and have more time after work. I feel this as  a little loss in social life. But it creates a better life-work balance, so it is a tradeoff.


I am part of a theater group in Spanish called Compañía de Teatro en Amsterdam. I was looking for Spanish speaking people because I felt that I missed my roots. My real personality can be shown in Spanish, not in English. I really like it and have been doing this for almost two years now. In the beginning I was a little nervous. But now I don’t care what they ask me to do during classes. Like performing animals for example. It makes you more easy in performing in public, and that helps also a lot for teaching and giving presentations.

Private life?

I live together with my girlfriend. She is French and works at IBM as a data scientist. We met in Chili at the university, where she did a double degree. We live in a nice apartment with a view on the Sloterplas.


Visit Diego’s research page


December 2022
Ellen Woudstra