My main research interests concern the early history of the Milky Way and surrounding galaxies. I am using both photometric and spectroscopic observations as well as modelling to study these systems. In particular, several of my projects focus on the first generations of stars in these systems that contain valuable information about our Galaxy’s childhood as well as conditions in the early Universe in general. The search for such most pristine (and presumably extremely old) stars has justifiably been compared with finding needles in a haystack as these stars are extremely rare. I am the founder and Principal Investigator for the "Pristine Survey", an international collaboration uncovering and studying these rare earliest generation stars in the Galaxy with unprecedented efficiency and success. The Pristine survey collaboration is an international team of over 30 scientists and the project to date has already resulted in 18 peer-reviewed articles and 5 successful PhD theses, with more in preparation. I am furthermore deeply involved in upcoming and future instrumentation and surveys in my field, for instance as co-lead for one of the ten 4MOST consortium surveys and co-lead for the very metal-poor (early generation) star working group for the WEAVE spectrograph.