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After graduating in psychology (Master’s degree physiological psychology, Graduated with Merit) and biology (Propaedeutics medical biology) I started my research career as a PhD student investigating dyslexia at the Department of Clinical Neuropsychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. This has resulted in my PhD thesis entitled ‘Dyslexia and Inhibition: a Behavioral and Electrophysiological Examination’ (awarded Cum Laude). Following a short period as a postdoc, I accepted the position of Assistant Professor at the Department of Educational Neuroscience (previously called the Department of Special Education). In January  2014, I was appointed as Associate Professor. From May 2015 to January 2016, I was the substitute head of the department. At the moment, I am Chair of the Educational Studies Examination Board, and Chair of the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Examination Board.
My main duties are to conduct research and teach in the overlap areas of educational science and neuroscience.

Since obtaining my PhD, the focus of my research has been on the role of higher-order cognitive processes and strategies in language and reading comprehension, word problem solving, mathematics, and, to a lesser degree, social cognition. My work involves both fundamental and applied studies, ranging over topics from mental imagery to embodied cognition to abstract reasoning to number sense. The overarching theme underlying these diverse lines of research is the construction of a deep-level, meaning-based mental representation of the content that is studied. Over the years, as an integral part of my research, I have developed strong collaborations with colleagues from other universities (national and international) and educational organizations.

Over the course of my career, I have gathered expertise in a variety of important methodological and educational issues in my field of research, such as (i) the use of eye movement/fixation measures to study discourse processing and word problem solving, (ii) the use of more typical cognitive-experimental paradigms for research in the field of learning and instruction (such as inconsistency detection paradigms, probe recognition paradigms, lexical decision paradigms, semantic priming paradigms and numerous other reaction time paradigms), and (iii) the development of teaching methods and (computer-based) educational tools to improve academic skills.

Concerning education, I have been teaching in the overlap areas of educational science and neuroscience for over 20 years, and coordinated various courses in the bachelor and master curricula. 

I have supervised five PhD-students as co-promotor (one of whom graduated with cum laude honors), and served on doctoral dissertation committees for various universities in the Netherlands and abroad.

I received several research grants among which a €300.000 grant from NWO/PROO (The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research/Dutch Programme Council for Educational Research) for the project “Learning to read with mental imagery”.

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Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education


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