People


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Birgit Bekker
Junior researcher

Birgit is a Master student in Psychology (Brain and Cognition in Society, MSc) at the University of Amsterdam, and in Philosophy of Neuroscience (MA) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She obtained her BSc in Liberal Arts and Sciences at University College Maastricht.

Birgit works as junior researcher on Lil’Scientist. In Lil’Scientist, children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds participate in citizen science. We investigate the effect of children’s involvement in science on their attitudes towards science. Lil’Scientist is part of The Young Academy (De Jonge Akademie) and funded by the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Birgit is interested in stereotypes and inequality in science and in the transdisciplinary study of learning. She investigates inclusivity in science and the integration of scientific and non-scientific knowledge in educational contexts.


Femke

Femke Borst
Student Assistant

Femke is a second-year Research MA student in Child Development and Education and a first-year MA student in Orthopedagogics at the University of Amsterdam. She obtained her BA in Sociology and a minor in Orthopedagogics.

She is a Student Assistant on our Jacobs Foundation Research Fellowship project, studying the role of children’s self-views in achievement inequality. She is particularly interested in how children from disadvantaged backgrounds develop and maintain their self-views, and how these self-views influence motivation and performance.


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Justine Brüninghaus
Student assistant
Co-supervised with Erna van Hest, Patty Leijten, Bram Orobio de Castro, and Geertjan Overbeek

Justine is a third-year BA student in Pedagogical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. She previously interned at a counseling company where she worked towards helping children and their parents with developmental and educational problems. She currently works for a student organization where she writes scientific advice reports for companies that need help with solving pedagogical issues. From 2021-2022, Justine worked on our science communication project funded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). This project uses citizen science to understand what inequality means to children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Based on this project, she co-developed the educational materials Who’s the Scientist? Educational Material to Engage Children in Playful Ways With Science.

She is currently a student-assistant on our Niet de Eerste de Beste project, which is part of The Young Academy (De Jonge Akademie) and studies the challenges and opportunities faced by first-generation scientists in academia.


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Maud Hensums
Graduate student
Co-advised with Geertjan Overbeek and Helle Larsen, University of Amsterdam

Maud obtained her BA in Pedagogics at the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, the Netherlands, and her pre-master degree in Orthopedagogics and Research MA degree in Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

She is interested in how social and cognitive processes shape adolescent behavior. She investigates how changing peer norms can improve self-regulation in youth, with the aim to reduce antisocial behavior – such as bullying – in high-schools.


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Puck van Meerveld
Student Assistant

Puck is a third-year BA student in Pedagogical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. She was previously a board member of a student association where she chaired several committees. Before that she worked for a student organization where she wrote scientific advice reports for companies to solve pedagogical issues.

She is a Student Assistant on our Jacobs Foundation Research Fellowship project, studying the role of children’s self-views in achievement inequality. She is particularly interested in the development of self-esteem in children with different backgrounds.


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Yixin Tang
Graduate student
Co-advised with Sander Thomaes and Sheida Novin, Utrecht University

Yixin obtained her BSc degree in Psychology and MEd degree in Developmental Psychology at Beijing Normal University, China.

She is interested in children emerging self-views, especially in middle to late childhood, when children gradually form domain-specific evaluations of their competence. She is also interested in the way children pursue desirable self views. She studies the self-system through a cross-cultural lens.


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Kelly Ziemer
Postdoctoral Researcher

In 2022, Kelly obtained her PhD from the University of California-Berkeley, under the co-supervision of Valerie Shapiro and Eddie Brummelman, titled Lay Beliefs about Self-Love in the Context of Alcohol and Other Drug Recovery: A Study of Social Media Posts. She completed her Master of Social Work from CUNY-Hunter College, USA and is a licensed social worker in New York. Prior to pursuing the social work profession, Kelly worked as a consultant for 10 years and received her MSc in International Business from SKEMA Business School, France.

Kelly is a Postdoctoral Research on our Schools2030 project, funded by the Jacobs Foundation and conducted in the Kyrgyz Republic, which aims to understand teachers’ role in reducing inequality in the classroom. This project is conducted in collaboration with David Yeager and Hae Yeon Lee. Kelly is also a therapist specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based interventions and a lecturer in the Clinical Psychology department at Leiden University. Kelly seeks to blend her practice and teaching experience with her research interests in emotions, social justice, prevention science, and behavioral health.


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Stathis Grapsas, 2016-2021, Graduate student, co-advised with Jaap Denissen, Tilburg University. He obtained his PhD in 2021, with a dissertation titled Motivational Underpinnings of Narcissism. He is interested in self-views: how they develop, how they manifest, and how they become reinforced through interpersonal experiences. He is particularly interested in narcissism and investigates why and how narcissists pursue social status. Stathis is now a postdoc at Utrecht University with Sander Thomaes


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Çisem Gürel
Graduate student, co-advised with Geertjan Overbeek, University of Amsterdam. She obtained her PhD in 2022, with a dissertation titled “Am I Better Than I Was Before?” Social and Temporal Comparisons in Childhood and Adolescence. She is interested in how children create and maintain views of themselves, such as narcissism and self-esteem. She investigates how children engage in comparison strategies, such as social comparisons (“I am better than others”) and temporal comparisons (“I am getting better over time”), and how those comparison strategies can be used as interventions to help children flourish. Çisem is now a Scientific Information Specialist at Erasmus University Rotterdam.


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Lining (Rachel) Sun, 2017-2019, Graduate student, co-advised with Carol Dweck, Stanford University. She obtained her PhD in 2019 with a dissertation titled Pedagogical Focus Influences Reactions to Uncertainty. She is interested in learning and motivation. Her passion lies in helping people thrive in a world that is filled with uncertainty. She investigates whether the current educational system is preparing its students for such kind of future and, if not, what we can do to improve that. Rachel is now a postdoc at the National University of Singapore with Patricia Chen.


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Eva de Boer, 2020-2021, Research Assistant. She obtained her MA degree in Orthopedagogy in 2021 and her Research MA degree in Child Development and Education in 2022. She is interested in the development of self-views, such as self-esteem and narcissism, and how they are associated with social relationships. She is now a researcher at the Nederlandse Stichting voor het Dove en Slechthorende Kind (NSDSK).