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Before starting her own laboratory at Leiden University, she obtained her PhD cum laude at the University of Amsterdam under supervision of Maurits van der Molen and was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California in Davis, collaborating with Silvia Bunge.

Since 2005, she is head of the Brain & Development Laboratory at Leiden University, in which approximately 25 researchers investigate how children and adolescents make decisions and how this relates to brain development. All of her work employs a developmental cognitive neuroscience approach, by using fMRI, ERP and autonomic measures in combination with experimental tasks. She obtained several large research grants from the Dutch NWO and the European Research Council.

In the Netherlands, her research has been awarded many times, including a top achievement award from the National network for women in science, and the Award for Science and Communication handed out by the Dutch minister of Education. In 2011, she received the Early Career Award from the Society for Psychophysiological Research in Boston. She has published > 150 articles in scientific journals, and her work is well cited. She published the Dutch book ‘The Adolescent Brain’ for the general public, which sold > 85.000 copies.

Since 2013 she is an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Mandate ERC Scientific Council: 01 Jan 2017 - 31 Dec 2020 (1st term)