About us

The Elephant Path

guidance and expertise in every step of the research process

The Elephant Path is a research & consulting agency that supports organizations and individuals in conducting high-quality, reliable research on societal issues. Our mission is to deliver customized solutions to research problems – whether it’s advising on a suitable research design, conducting thorough and rigorous data analyses, or providing professional research content. The Elephant Path specializes in interdisciplinary social science research: we integrate theoretical perspectives and empirical insights from diverse disciplines to gain a better understanding of complex societal issues.

The Elephant Path was founded in 2018 by Dr. Suzan Doornwaard. The name “The Elephant Path” was chosen because elephants possess skills and qualities that have much in common with the characteristics of high-quality research. Elephants have impressive problem-solving skills and are remarkably resourceful. They are able to adjust their behavior to new challenges, using insight to find solutions to problems and tools to reach their goals. Moreover, elephants have a compelling memory: throughout their lives, they accumulate and retain knowledge and experiences, and they use this information to make efficient and goal-oriented decisions. The most experienced elephants navigate and coach the group towards their goal. While doing so, they create the paths for the next generations to follow. 

"Where an elephant walks,
a path is created"

Burmese proverb

About Suzan

founder the elephant path

As an interdisciplinary social scientist and research consultant, Suzan worked on a variety of  multidisciplinary research projects, in diverse settings and for diverse clients. Most of her academic work focused on youth and the changing social and cultural contexts in which they develop, addressing issues as social media use, youth culture, sexual development, substance use, and problem behavior. In her research projects, Suzan utilizes and combines diverse quantitative and qualitative methodologies (e.g., longitudinal surveys, online focus groups, experimental designs, systematic content analyses) to study complex social processes. 

Suzan studied Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (BSc) and Development and Socialisation in Childhood and Adolescence (Research MSc) at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. In 2015, she obtained her PhD for her multi-method research on the role of the Internet in adolescent sexual development, which was part of the first large-scale longitudinal study on adolescent sexual development in the Netherlands (Project STARS). For one of the studies in her dissertation, Suzan received the Publication Award from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). During her PhD, Suzan spent several months in the US as a visiting scholar at the Center on Media and Child Health (Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School).

In addition to her academic research experience, Suzan worked as a social impact consultant and was managing editor for an academic journal.


Research experience


PhD, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences: Cultural Diversity & Youth

Utrecht University, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

MSc, Development Socialisation in Childhood and Adolescence

Utrecht University, Graduate School of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Graduated cum laude

BSc, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, w. minors in Cultural Studies

Utrecht University, Graduate School of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Graduated cum laude

Postgraduate courses and training

United Nations University - Intensive Core Courses on Sustainability Science; Advanced statistics; Qualitative research; Meta-analysis; Experimental research; Press & Publicity


Research Consultant

The Elephant Path

Postdoctoral Research Fellow Youth in Changing Cultural Contexts

Utrecht University, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences: Cultural Diversity & Youth

Social Impact Consultant


Managing Editor

Journal of Social Intervention: Theory and Practice

Visiting scholar

Center on Media and Child Health, Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital

University lecturer / Thesis supervisor

Utrecht University, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences: Cultural Diversity & Youth


publication Award

Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

Best Student Presentation Award

Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality

Best Scientific Poster Award

Graduate School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Conference funding Dynamics of Youth

For the organisation of the one-day symposium “Project STARS”

20+ academic publications

See portfolio for a full list of publications per research area

Research visuals and presentation design
When I approached Suzan for visualizing my research ideas, I had a vague idea of what I wanted as an end result, but urgently needed someone to help me get there. “The Elephant Path” literally carved out a road in a jungle of opportunities and I did not doubt my choice of working with Suzan for even a second along the way. I can recommend Suzan to anyone who needs someone who is very perceptive of a client’s goals and extremely powerful in developing and implementing a strategy to achieve this. I couldn’t have wished for a better support for my project!
Maria Schiller
Assistant Professor, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Research website
It was a pleasure working with Suzan. She is skilled, creative and her knowledge of the research field came in very useful. Not only did Suzan design a beautiful website for our research project, but also helped translate the contents into lay-terms for parents and schools. Suzan is attentive to her clients’ wishes: she understood what I was looking for without much explanation. I highly recommend her services.
Brechtje de Mooij
Researcher, University of Amsterdam
Translating and proofreading
It was a pleasure working with The Elephant Path. Suzan did an excellent job translating and proofreading my manuscript. Not only was her proofreading meticulous, but she also did a thorough check of the methods and data and made some critical suggestions on the content of the manuscript.
Regina van den Eijnden
Assistant Professor, Utrecht University
Quantitative advisor for ResultsinHealth
ResultsinHealth brought a dynamic, rigorous, and inquisitive posture to the project. These characteristics helped tremendously given the multiple partners and stakeholders that needed to be managed across the consortium. I was impressed with the team’s attention to detail, their critical analysis and ability to work under intense pressure given an everchanging field dynamic due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They helped us pull off an evaluation we genuinely did not know if we could deliver on once borders started closing and in-country restrictions were put in place.
Program Director
World Vision Canada
Research visuals and website design
Suzan helped me with a research grant proposal by visualizing the research design and research questions. After reading my proposal and only one short talk, she managed to make a clear and structured overview of my research plans and to create an appealing set of figures to accompany my grant proposal. Her sketches even helped me to get a clearer view of my own plan. She works quick and effective and was able to help me fine-tune the last details in the rush of meeting my deadline.
Rianne Kok
Assistant Professor, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Research visuals and presentation design
So incredibly happy with all the help from Suzan for my ERC grant proposal. After reading an early draft proposal, Suzan created beautiful and clear visualisations of my main research interests and (rather complex) theoretical framework. This was very helpful not only in terms of conveying my ideas to others, but also for structuring my ideas for myself. Suzan then helped me create my presentation for the interview, which had the same clarity and helped me communicate my main message in a very effective way.
Samira van Bohemen
Assistant Professor, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Research website
I very much enjoyed and recommend working with The Elephant Path. While Suzan was building the website for our research project, I experienced her as being very skilled and creative. On top of that, I feel that she was able to contribute more in-depth insights as well because of her background in Social Sciences. Suzan is enthusiastic, hard-working, and I am very impressed by the end product, our research website.
Maud Hensums
PhD Candidate, University of Amsterdam
In one word, I would describe Suzan's editorial talent as "brilliant." She and I worked on the structure and the content of my thesis at a point where I got stuck with so many pre-written materials that did not contribute to a well-structured storyline. With her experience in academic writing, Suzan immediately came up with several on-target ideas and helped me re-format my story into a coherent and fluent one while maintaining the relevance for the intended audience. I would be more than happy to collaborate with her again in the future!
PhD Candidate, TU Delft
Quantitative advisor
During my thesis research for the Bachelor Applied Psychology, Suzan advised me on the quantitative data analysis. She helped me select the proper statistical techniques, explained how to perform the analyses in SPSS, and helped me interpret and describe the results. Her feedback was really helpful!
Psychology Graduate, Saxion University of Applied Sciences