Simone Dobbelaar is a PhD candidate at the SYNC lab at Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Brain and Development Research Center at Leiden University. During her PhD, Simone focuses on the role of the social environment in the neurocognitive development of social competence. Specifically, she is interested in the development of prosocial behavior and aggression regulation, and the co-occurence of these behaviors. Moreover, she tries to discover whether changes in the social environment, such as parenting behavior, can influence the development of prosocial behavior and emotion regulation on both a behavioral and neural level. Simone studies these questions in twins that are followed from middle childhood to early adolescence, as part of the longitudinal twin study of the Leiden Consortium on Individual Development. Her PhD project is supervised by Prof. dr. Eveline Crone, Dr. Anna van Duijvenvoorde and Dr. Michelle Achterberg.

During her bachelors Psychobiology and Psychology, Simone developed an interest in research that bridges the gap between brain and behavior. She obtained her Reseach Master Psychology at the University of Amsterdam with a specialization in Brain and Cognition and Clinical Psychology (2018, cum laude). Her master thesis in the Emotional Memory Lab of the University of Amsterdam focused on the role of context in declarative memory interference and was awarded as research master thesis of the year.

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.

Lysanne te Brinke is a postdoctoral researcher at the Erasmus SYNC lab. She is interested in how adolescents navigate complex societal challenges (i.e., social inequality crisis, climate crisis, covid-19 crisis). Specifically, her work focuses on empowering adolescents to speak up (i.e., raising their voice) and to act act up (i.e., prosocial societal behavior). 

Lysanne is currently leading an intervention study, in which she aims to examine how changes in emotional reactivity during adolescence result in opportunities for prosocial behavior, such as increases in societal contributions. She is co-founder of our YoungXperts youth participation platform and an advocate of citizen science. In her work, she aims to include the voices and creative ideas of adolescents. Moreover, she examines how innovative approaches (i.e., living labs) foster the implementation of scientific findings, while at the same time enabling adolescents to feel connected to – and heard in – society. 

Aside from her passion for bridging science and practice, Lysanne actively contributes to the training and collaboration opportunities of early career researchers. She is appointed as president elect of the early career researchers union of the European Association for Developmental Psychology. 

Lysanne has a background in developmental psychology and completed both a research master (2015) and clinical master (2016, cum laude) at Utrecht University. During her studies, she did a clinical internship at Curium-LUMC Leiden and obtained a certificate of psychological assessment (BAPD). In her PhD project at Utrecht University (2016-2020), Lysanne developed an experimental emotion regulation training for adolescents with externalizing behavior problems, and examined the relative effects of different treatment approaches, through the use of micro-trial designs. She also gained international experience: several travel grants enabled her to work at the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental and the Sydney Child Behavior Clinic. She successfully defended her PhD thesis “Interventions under the microscope: Emotion regulation as a treatment element for externalizing problems in adolescence” in March 2021.

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).