I am professor in Neurocognitive Developmental Psychology at Leiden University. I am interested in adolescence as a window of opportunity for social learning. I started the Brain and Development Lab to build a work space where researchers come together with the aim to understand the fundamental changes in brain structure and function that underlie our ability to anticipate, produce and evaluate complex decisions in daily life. Open and transparent research practices across the full research cycle are very important to me. I believe that an intellectually stimulating and socially safe academic culture is a necessity for making scientific discoveries.
Since 2020, I hold a full-time professor chair of Developmental Neuroscience in Society at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and I continued my professor position at Leiden University in a part-time position. This brings multiple new and exciting possibilities to extend my research from fundamental science to impact in society. At Erasmus University Rotterdam, I am one of the academic leads of the Healthy Start program and I started YoungXperts.nl, a youth participation platform to stimulate participatory action research and to connect with youth-oriented policy.
My research is driven by multiple interdisciplinary collaborations. I am the figurehead of the Growing Up Together in Society (GUTS) consortium, a Gravitation-funded collaboration among scientist in the Netherlands who aim to study how young people grow up in a complex society. My interest for this approach started a few years earlier. I was one of the founders of NeurolabNL, a science-society workplace for brain, cognition and behavioral research of the National Science Agenda (NWA), which helped shape several of the ideas that are now part of the GUTS program.
I am a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC). In 2020 I was appointed as one of the vice-presidents of the ERC for the domain of Social Sciences and Humanities. I received the Spinoza Award in 2017.
In addition to my fundamental scientific work, I love communicating my findings to the general public. In 2008 (renewed version in 2018) I published the Dutch book “The pubertal brain” for a wide audience, of which over 100,000 copies have been sold. The book has been translated into six languages.
For more information about my work and activities, see my Curriculum Vitae.