Focus of research

My interest and expertise lie in the field of behavioral genetics, mental health and musical engagement. My work addresses factors that influence mental health and musical expertise as well as the relationship between the two, with a focus on gene-environment interplay. By using genetically informative designs, I am able to strengthen causal inferences and adjust for familial confounding when studying factors influencing mental health or when studying phenomena of interest in the field of music research, such as sensitive periods in music acquisition, the importance of the childhood environment for adult musical achievement and the relationship between playing an instrument and mental health. Additionally, making use of molecular genetic techniques, I work on investigating specific genetic variants and their potential pathways affecting musicality and music-related traits. 

I obtained my PhD in 2018 at the Biological Psychology Department of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. I studied genetic and familial factors that influence the development and persistence of childhood psychopathology. During my final PhD year I spend 6 months at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. After obtaining my PhD, I continued research in the field of behavioral genetics as a post-doc at the Department of Neuroscience at the Karolinska Instititute in Stockholm, where I studied gene-environmental interplay underlying musical expertise and the relation between music and mental health. One day per week, I work at the Social Psychology Department of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, where I conduct genetic analyses for a variety of research projects on, among other things, disgust sensitivity, vegetarianism, socio-sexuality, personality and romantic jealousy. 

I work at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt at the Behavioral Genetics unit in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry at Amsterdam UMC, where I am located and able to work closely together with the psychiatric genetics lab lead by Prof. Karin Verweij.