Elsje van Bergen receives Young Investigator Award and Veni fellowship

Both awards endorse van Bergen’s academic talent and will allow her to study the interplay between genes and environment on reading ability.

07/17/2015 | 1:06 PM

On 17th July 2015 in Hawaii (US), Elsje van Bergen received the Sandak Young Investigator Award of the international Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR). That same day the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) announced that Van Bergen was also awarded a prestigious Veni fellowship for her research ‘Decoding the gene-environment interplay of reading ability’.

Researchers within the international Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR) study reading ability, varying from the role of genes and brain processes to dyslexia interventions. The award is intended to recognize a gifted young reading researcher who shows outstanding promise and dedication to the field. The award includes a certificate and a monetary award of 500 dollar. The award shows that Elsje van Bergen is also internationally recognized as a promising and talented scientist.

Two academic prizes on one day
On the same that that she got the SSSR award, NWO announced that she is among the winners of the prestigious Veni fellowship. Van Bergen will use this three-year fellowship of €250.000,- to study the interplay of genes and environment on reading ability. She will conduct her research at the Department of Biological Psychology (Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences) and the Netherlands Twin Register. Van Bergen is delighted with both prizes: “These awards give an impetus to both genetic reading research in the Netherlands as well as my academic career.”

Intertwining of genes and environment
We read all day long: from study books to subtitles and whatsapp messages. Given the importance of reading, we know surprisingly little about the interplay between genes and environment that influences reading development. For instance, families with a strong genetic predisposition to dyslexia may have fewer books in the home because they do not enjoy reading. In her research van Bergen would like to uncover how genes and environments are intertwined. To do so, she will study reading of thousands of twin families and apply sophisticated statistics.

Elsje van Bergen Award

Elsje van Bergen studied Human Movement Sciences at the VU Amsterdam and University of Aberdeen (Scotland) and did her PhD in Educational Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. For the past few years she worked at the University of Oxford (England), funded by a Rubicon Fellowship from NWO. In April 2015 she moved back to the VU to join the department of Biological Psychology. Head of Department is Professor Dorret Boomsma, founder of theNetherlands Twin Register.