I received my MSc degree in Biological Psychology from Utrecht University in 1998, after which I worked as a junior researcher on the psychophysiology of anxiety at the NIMH Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention in Gainesville, Florida, USA. In 1999, I started my work on the psychopharmacology and neuroanatomy of fear and anxiety at the department of Psychopharmacology, Utrecht University. I finished my PhD thesis in 2003.
After a course in science journalism, I started working as a freelance science journalist for various magazines (Psychologie Magazine, Intermediair) and newspapers (NRC Handelsblad, de Volkskrant, Bionieuws). For six years, I wrote a monthly column on the human brain (Breinbrekers) in Psychologie Magazine. I have also published four books for a lay audience on the functioning of the human brain.
In 2005 and 2006 I worked as a postdoc on the NWO project Botox for the brain: a neuroethical study on the enhancement of mental functions with psychopharmacological substances.
From 2006 until 2009 I taught psychology to second year psychology students at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In 2009, I became a lecturer at the department of Medical Psychology of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. I now teach communication skills, collaboration and professional behavior to medical students in their first four years of medical school and in their clerkships, and a minor Medical Psychology for medical and psychology students. For the past couple of years, I’ve also coordinated and taught a course on neuroanatomy and psychopharmacology at the Erasmus University, and lectured on cognitive enhancement at the Erasmus University and the VU University Amsterdam.
My research interests are focused on the biological basis of fear and anxiety and, more recently, on the possibility and ethics of cognitive enhancement.
I’m currently setting up a new teaching program for medical students in their clerkships, named SCOPE, which focuses on the CanMeds competencies of collaborator, communicator and professional.