Anna van Duijvenvoorde


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).


Anna van Duijvenvoorde

Marie-José van Tol


Dr Marie-José van Tol received the Heineken Young Scientists Award in the Social Sciences 2018 for studying the many factors that contribute to depression and other psychiatric disorders.
The jury recognised Marie-José van Tol as a talented, creative and passionate researcher who not only combines many different disciplines but also makes connections in other respects. She is one of the founders of the Young Academy Groningen and its current chairperson.
Dr Marie-José van Tol is assistant professor and principal investigator in the Neuropsychology faculty, part of the Department of Neuroscience at University Medical Center Groningen.
Van Tol studied clinical and medical psychology at Utrecht University. She received her PhD from Leiden University in 2011 for her MRI study of patients suffering depression or anxiety disorders.

Marie-José van Tol is interested in unravelling the many factors that make people vulnerable to depression, anxiety, suicide, schizophrenia and other major psychiatric disorders. Her work is interdisciplinary in nature and combines knowledge and methods from clinical psychiatry, neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, neuroradiology, neuroscience and other fields.
In her quest to identify the underpinnings of psychological vulnerabilities, Van Tol explores a wide range of different influences. For example, her analyses allow for the presence of other psychiatric disorders, the course of the illness, the effects of treatments, genetic risk factors, personality factors and early trauma. She also makes use of innovative neuro-imaging techniques and analytical methods.


Video interview with Marie-José van Tol

Jasper Poort


Dr J. Poort is a post-doctoral researcher at The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for neural circuits and behaviour at the Faculty of Life Sciences, University College London. He received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for Cognitive Science 2016 for his research on how our brains take rapid decisions by concentrating on the most important information available.
Jasper Poort studied psychology at Leiden University and cognitive neurosciences at Radboud University Nijmegen. He completed his PhD in 2012 at VU University Amsterdam for research that he had conducted at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, an Academy institute.
Poort’s work concerns a question that intrigues many cognitive scientists: how do our brains manage to process vast amounts of sensory input at lightning speed when deciding on a course of action? How is it that we can move safely from A to B through crowded streets full of buildings, billboards, traffic signs and other people and vehicles? How does the brain manage to focus on the most crucial input and ignore the rest? How do nerve cells and regions of the brain cope with the unending flood of information all around them?
Jasper Poort has published in such prestigious journals as Neuron and is the recipient of both an NWO VENI grant, an EU Marie Curie research grant and a UCL Excellence Fellowship grant. He is eager to discuss his work with non-scientists as well. For example, he has cooperated on the Dutch ‘Canon of Science’ and gives public lectures on brain research.


Video interview with Jasper Poort, winner of the Heineken Young Scientists Award for Cognitive Science 2016

Martin A. Vinck


Dr M. Vinck is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, part of Yale University’s School of Medicine (New Haven, USA). He received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for Cognitive Science 2014 for his research into the role of electrical oscillation in cognitive processes.
Martin Vinck obtained his PhD at the University of Amsterdam in 2013, for his work on the relationship between electrical oscillations in brain cells and cognitive processes such as perception, memory and decision-making. He developed new mathematical methodologies that are now being applied by other researchers.
At Yale, Vinck is currently using oscillation techniques to study how cells in the primary visual cortex influence one another.
In 2013, Vinck was awarded a Rubicon Fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. He has also received Elsevier’s Scopus Young Researcher Award in the Life Sciences category.

‘I’m driven by the desire to discover patterns and sequences in complex data sets. There is a lot of beauty in the solutions that nature has come up with.’

Floris de Lange


Floris de Lange received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for Cognitive Science 2012 for his research on visual perception and motorial imagery.
Dr De Lange received his PhD cum laude at Radboud University Nijmegen. After rounding off his postdoctoral research abroad, he quickly built up a research group at that university’s Donders Institute. He now has some forty publications to his name and has received a number of research grants, including recently a “Top Talent” grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). In the words of the jury, Dr De Lange displays intellectual depth and an understanding of virtually all areas of cognition, making him one of the most talented cognitive scientists currently working.

Paola Escudero


Paola Escudero received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for Cognitive Science 2010 for her research on second language speech learning.
Her PhD research at the University of Utrecht concerned phonological categories in polyglots. Paola Escudero has developed a model within the context of Optimality Theory that describes the cognitive processes that speakers go through when forming sounds that are unknown in their native language. As a postdoc, she is currently conducting psycholinguistic research in order to test her theoretical model experimentally. Paola Escudero works at the University of Amsterdam.

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