Suzanne van de Groep is a postdoctoral researcher in the SYNC lab. She studies the behavioral and neural development of prosocial behaviors in adolescence. Prosocial behaviors such as giving, cooperating, and helping are essential for forming and maintaining social relationships, which is an important developmental goal in adolescence. Suzanne’s work specifically focuses on the influence of social contexts and individual differences on the development of different types of prosociality, such as trust, reciprocity, and giving.
Suzanne works on an ERC consolidator project called ‘Brainlinks’, a longitudinal three-wave study in which 142 adolescents and their parents are followed over the course of several years. In this project, Suzanne uses a variety of techniques (e.g., fMRI, daily diaries, experiments, questionnaires, and brainstorm sessions) to behaviorally and neurally investigate adolescents’ prosocial behaviors, as well as how these are modulated by different social contexts (e.g., pertaining to beneficiaries and audiences) and individual differences in personality (e.g., in perspective taking).
Suzanne has a background in developmental psychology and completed her research masters in Leiden in 2016 (cum laude). In February 2022, she defended her PhD dissertation called ‘Growing in Generosity? Unraveling the effects of benefactor-, beneficiary-, and situational characteristics on the development of giving and its neural correlates in adolescence’, which was supervised by Prof. Eveline Crone and Dr. Kiki Zanolie. Apart from gaining a better understanding of prosocial development, Suzanne has a passion for connecting science and society, for example through science communication and citizen science projects, as well as mentoring, talent development, and recognition and rewards in academia.
Suzanne was awarded several grants and prizes, included a grant to visit UCLA during her PhD, two EGSH PhD Excellence Awards (best societal impact and best poster), a DPECS Dragon’s Den seed fund, and a NWA Science Communication Grant (together with her YoungXperts colleagues).
Renske van der Cruijsen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Erasmus SYNC lab. Her research is focused on self-concept development during adolescence, encompassing behavioral and neural development in typically developing adolescents, as well as self-concept in relation to (sub)clinical conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), alexithymia, and internalizing problems. She applies a multidisciplinary approach including neuroimaging methods, experimental tasks, surveys, and behavioral observations. Furthermore, she is co-founder of our YoungXperts youth participation platform, and driven to connect science to society and policy. In these efforts she applies living lab methods such as citizen science making use of youth panels. By this means she aims to incorporate questions, needs, and ideas of adolescents into more fundamental developmental cognitive neuroscience research.
After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in child psychology, and a pre-master in neuropsychology, Renske completed a research master in cognitive neuroscience at the Radboud University Nijmegen and the Donders center for neuroscience. During her internship she worked on an EEG study on cognitive control in adolescents with and without ASD. In January 2016 Renske continued into her PhD trajectory supervised by Prof. Eveline Crone. During her PhD trajectory she conducted a three-wave longitudinal fMRI study in 189 adolescents, and a smaller cross-sectional neuroimaging study in adolescent boys with autism spectrum disorder. In her project she collaborated with several researchers, such as Prof. Jennifer Pfeifer at Oregon University, and Prof. Geoffrey Bird at King’s college London. Additionally, she obtained her University Teaching Qualification (BKO), and is involved in an array of citizen science initiatives and outreach projects. In 2021 she was awarded with the Best Societal Impact award for PhD Excellence by the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities.
Yara Toenders is a postdoctoral researcher at the Erasmus SYNC lab. She is interested in mental health during development from childhood to young adulthood.
Yara previously did her PhD at the Centre for Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne in Australia. During her PhD she focused on depression in young people, more specifically on the onset of depression and the heterogeneity of depression. She was also involved in the international ENIGMA MDD consortium, a worldwide effort to combine data to increase our understanding of depression.
Before her PhD, Yara obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and finished a Neurobiology research master at the University in Amsterdam. During this Master she first gained experience with neuroimaging in young people. At the Amsterdam Medical Centre, she studied brain connectivity in children with a posttraumatic stress disorder.
Michelle Achterberg is an assistant professor at the Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies (DPECS) at Erasmus University Rotterdam and affiliated with the Erasmus SYNC-lab. Her research line focusses on the nature, nurture and neural mechanisms of social emotion regulation in childhood and adolescence.
Michelle is a junior PI on the Leiden Consortium on Individual Development (L-CID), a large longitudinal twin study on brain development in childhood and adolescence. Within this study Michelle specifically focusses on longitudinal brain development and its relation to social information processing and behavioral control. Additionally, she has expertise on functional and structural brain connectivity and investigates how brain development is influenced by genes and the environment.
Michelle has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Research Master’s degree in Neuroscience. During her masters, Michelle worked as a research intern at the department of child psychiatry, University Medical Center Utrecht, where she gained her first experience with neuroimaging in children. During the second year of her studies, she joined the Brian and Development Research Center at Leiden University as a research assistant.
Following her passion for developmental neuroscience, Michelle started her PhD project in 2014 as part of the Leiden Consortium on Individual Development at Leiden University under supervision of Prof. dr. Eveline Crone, Prof. dr. Marian Bakermans- Kranenburg and Dr. Anna van Duijvenvoorde. Michelle received her PhD “Nature, nurture and neural mechanisms of social emotion regulation” in 2020 cum laude. For her PhD research, she received the Dutch Neurofederation PhD Thesis Prize in 2021.
During her postdoc at the SYNC lab (2020-2022), Michelle aimed to bridge the gap between fundamental science and societal challenges by incorporating co-creation methods to her studies, such as brain storm sessions and living labs. As an assistant professor, Michelle remains involved in SYNC’s research projects and societal impact initiatives.
Sophie Sweijen is a PhD candidate in the SYNC lab. She focuses on the behavioral and neural developmental trajectories of prosocial behavioral and societal contributions during adolescence.
Her work is part of the longitudinal ERC consolidator ‘Brainlinks’ project, in which 142 adolescents are followed over the course of three years. The project focuses on the development of prosocial behavior in young individuals, using a variety of techniques (e.g. fMRI, laboratory tasks and questionnaires). She also works on the Urban Rotterdam Project examining how the social environment interacts with individual characteristics on developmental outcomes. Here, she specifically investigates adolescents’ opportunities for prosocial actions during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sophie completed her research master ‘Developmental Psychology’ at Leiden University in 2019. Her main interests lie in the social world of young individuals. During her studies, she assisted in multiple behavioral and fMRI studies investigating social learning, peer relations and risk taking in adolescence. For her master thesis, she focused on the developmental changes and individual differences in learning through social interactions.
Ilse van de Groep is a PhD Candidate at the SYNC lab and the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department (Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc) since 2018. In her PhD project, Ilse examines several mechanisms that underlie distinct developmental trajectories of social and antisocial behavior in emerging adulthood, with a specific focus on the neural correlates of self-concept, vicarious reward learning, social evaluation and aggression regulation. She is supervised by Eveline Crone, Marieke Bos, Arne Popma and Lucres Nauta-Jansen.
Ilse is one of the executive project coordinators within the RESIST project, a collaboration between researchers from Leiden University, VUMC and the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN). This project is also affiliated with NeuroLabNL.
Ilse obtained her Research Master in Social and Health Psychology at Utrecht University in 2016. Her master thesis focused on the prediction of sensory input based on self-performed actions (i.e., motor prediction) and how this information is used to determine (self-)agency. After graduating, she worked as a research assistant at the Experimental Psychopathology lab in Utrecht.