Robert is the Chairman and Research Associate of CIE as well as an Associate Professor at Leiden University and Visiting Professor to New York University Abu Dhabi. He holds a doctorate in the History of European Expansion from the University of Amsterdam. Between 1998-2005 he was curator of the Amsterdam Historical Museum. He managed the culture and development programme in the Bay of Galle, with the Avondster Project, through which he trained and established a Maritime Archaeological Unit in Sri Lanka. In 2005 Robert established CIE and for over a decade acted as its director.