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VU psychologist Elsje van Bergen awarded Vidi grant

29 June 2023
The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded a Vidi grant to VU psychologist Elsje van Bergen, enabling her to investigate learning difficulties.

Van Bergen, an Associate Professor of Biological Psychology and affiliated with the Netherlands Twin Register, receives the Vidi grant to study why learning difficulties run in families. Children born to parents with conditions such as dyslexia (reading difficulties) or dyscalculia (math difficulties) are at increased risk of developing the same conditions themselves.

In her research, Van Bergen will analyse large datasets to examine the effects of the home environment, including activities like shared reading, math conversations, parents’ academic skills, and the use of a serious game that allows children to practice for example multiplication tables. Importantly, Van Bergen takes into account the genetic predisposition that parents pass on to their children. This is made possible through research involving twin families and the analysis of measured DNA.

The reviewers have described Van Bergen's research as a beautiful combination of original, innovative, and complex designs for investigating this highly important problem. They praise her success in multiple academic fields and highlight in her work the integration of fundamental behaviour genetics and applied educational research.

Talent programme
The Vidi grant is aimed at outstanding researchers with remarkable and original talent, and a strong fascination for challenging and innovative research. The NWO has awarded a Vidi grant of 800,000 euros to 97 experienced researchers nationwide. The Vidi grant, along with the Veni and Vici grants, is part of the NWO Talent Programme. The Talent Programme focuses on innovative and curiosity-driven research. Researchers are selected based on the quality of their work, the innovative nature of their research, and the expected scientific and societal impact.

Photo Elsje van Bergen: Yvonne Compier