From both a personal and professional point of view, I am pursuing the Human Potential. My aim is to help humans in achieving well-being and happiness. I strongly believe that if we can only achieve progress with truly interdisciplinary insights; until individual academic disciplines venture beyond their comfortable islands of expertise, we will be left with many unanswered questions. Therefore, I combine theories and methods of different disciplines (e.g. physiology, gastroenterology, microbiology, immunology, and, of course, psychology). More specifically, I study the connection between the gut (microbiota) and mental health; the gut-brain-axis.
From July 2014 to June 2016, I worked as a PhD student at Leiden University on the topic of Cognitive Enhancement. As part of my doctoral research, I spent one month at the Technical University of Dresden. On the 16th of June 2016, I successfully defended my PhD thesis and received my doctorate. From June 2016 to June 2017, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Cognitive Psychology Unit of Leiden University. Between June 2017 and June 2018, supported by an Amsterdam Brain and Cognition talent grant and an amazing group of talented students, I set up research at the University of Amsterdam and the Academic Medical Centre in order to further investigate gut-brain interactions and how these affect cognition and well-being. From May to August 2018, I visited the Emotions and Quantitative Psychophysiology lab led by Prof. dr. Julian Thayer at the Ohio State University. As of August 2018, supported by an NWO Veni grant, I am back in Leiden to investigate how the vagal nerve relates to cognitive- and affective processing and how gut bacteria influence physiological processes, our brains, and subsequent behavior, and how we may use that to enhance our well-being. For the work I have done so far, I was awarded the Young Scientist award from the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
I love sharing my experience, knowledge, and ideas, and giving people food for thought (see Laura Steenbergen in de media)! For example, in 2017/2018, together with Coen Verbraak, Patrick van Hees, and Jan Kuipers, I performed in a number of theatres in the Netherlands as part of our theatre lecture series "Op Zoek naar Geluk".
A combination of these outreach and scientific efforts resulted in me ending up in the 2018 top 25 'New Scientist Wetenschapstalent' election from the Dutch New Scientist.
The research I am currently conducting is funded by a Veni grant received from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO; 2018) and a project grant from the Gratama Foundation and the Leiden University Fund (2019). In the past, my work has been supported by a KNAW ‘van der Gaag’ grant (2018), a Talent Grant from Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (2017), and a public-private Enabling Technologies Hotels grant from ZonMw (2017).
Do you want to know more about me and/or my work? Check out my personal website www.LauraSteenbergen.com
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