The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has awarded the Heineken Young Scientists Award in the Social Sciences 2020 to Anna van Duijvenvoorde, a developmental psychologist at Leiden University. Van Duijvenvoorde is receiving the award for her research on the development of the brain and behaviour in adolescents.
The jury describes Anna van Duijvenvoorde as an outstanding researcher who is able to make her work accessible to a wider group of interested parties. She is curious and innovative, but also a bridge-builder who is part of an impressive network of top researchers. She inspires and supports young scientists. Above all, she is a researcher who dares to steer her own course, qualities that are indispensable for carrying out challenging top-class research and training young researchers.
Research on development of the brain
Van Duijvenvoorde’s research investigates how the brain and behaviour of teenagers change. During teenage years, the brain undergoes an important development. In this phase we learn to empathise better with others, and our peers become more important. Van Duijvenvoorde wants to know how these changes affect the choices that teenagers make. She attempts
to answer such questions as: Why teenagers do find unfamiliar risks interesting? How do they discover who they can trust? And what motivates them? Her work involves fundamental research but can have important social applications. For example, her research on how young people learn can help understand the impact of online education during the corona crisis.
About the laureate
Anna van Duijvenvoorde studied psychology at the University of Amsterdam, graduating cum laude in 2007. She also completed her PhD research in developmental psychology cum laude. While working on her PhD, she spent several months in New York, doing research at Colombia University and at the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology. Since 2019, she has been an associate professor in the Developmental and Educational Psychology Unit at Leiden University.
Van Duijvenvoorde has received numerous major grants for her research, including a Sara van Dam project grant from the Academy and an Open Research Area grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO).