Dr Michelle Achterberg researches the development of social behaviour in children, using methods from neuroscience, psychology, and child studies. She discovered that regulating your behavior at a young age is related to the development of the prefrontal cortex. For her work, she received the Research Prize 2022 at the 109th Dies Natalis on 8 November 2022. The jury called her a brilliant young scholar who comes up with novel ideas at a pace that is impossible for her collaborators to keep track of.
Before she started this large study, she validated her designs in three developmental pilot samples and in a separate study including adults. With this approach, she is a strong ambassador for Open Science, which was acknowledged by an Open Science Award in 2021 from the Open Science Community Rotterdam (OSCR).
In March 2020, Michelle Achterberg defended her PhD thesis, which was graded cum laude. She also received the dissertation award of the Dutch Association for Developmental Psychology (VNOP) for her doctoral research on social emotion regulation in children. She continued with a highly successful post doc at Erasmus-SYNC lab, where she aimed to bridge the gap between fundamental science and societal challenges by incorporating co-creation methods to her studies, such as brain storm sessions and living labs.
Achterberg is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies (DPECS) at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences (ESSB) and remains involved in SYNC’s research projects. Since she joined the faculty of ESSB, she has been appreciated and admired by many of her colleagues. She is one of the few scientists who examines neural development in childhood as predictor for successful social development in adolescence.
More important than ever to understand how children grow up
Michelle Achterberg: “With society becoming more socially complex and challenging, it is more important than ever to understand how children grow up to be socially competent adults. Such a complex question requires the strengths of an interdisciplinary approach, which I accomplish by integrating theories and methods from Developmental Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience, and Pedagogical Sciences.”
Research Prize 2022
For the great societal impact of her research, Dr Michelle Achterberg won the Research Prize 2022 which was awarded during the 109th Dies Natalis of Erasmus University Rotterdam. This is a prize for a promising PhD researcher who has made exceptional research achievements.
The judges' report said that Michelle Achterberg is seen as a brilliant young scholar who has a promising career ahead of her. “Michelle easily sets up new studies, initiatives and collaborations, she comes up with novel ideas at a pace that is impossible for her collaborators to keep track of, and she is an excellent mentor for more junior researchers,” the jury said.