|While growing up in a small town in The Netherlands I always hung out on a local
dairy farm. Yes I did wear wooden shoes. This steered me towards animal science
and in particular animal breeding and genetics while in college at what is now
known as Wageningen Agricultural University. After completing my PhD in the same
field with minors in statistics and mathematics at Cornell University I started
working in the animal breeding by working for first the American Simmental
Association and later the US Holstein Association. In my capacity as researcher for
these organizations I was involved with the development of software and statistical
methods to help identify genetically superior animals to be used for breeding. An
important part of my job was outreach to farmers, in the US and abroad, to explain
why our methods of evaluating their animals could help their bottom line.|
In 2003, my family and I moved to the Pittsburgh area where I started working as a visiting research scientist in the department of Statistics at Carnegie Melon University. Through this I became involved with the genetics work going on at the Computational Genetic Group at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. In 2006 I started working full-time as a research scientist for this group.
The focus of my research is on how statistical and computational methods can be used efficiently in deciphering the message that is hidden in large genetic datasets. Most of my efforts these days are focused on qualitative disease data but I always enjoy a good quantitative dataset. Diseases that I have been working on recently include autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease.
|I am a clinical psychologist and my long-term goal is to integrate high dimensional data, such as genomics and neuroimaging, to identify biological mechanisms associated with the pathogenesis of and risk factors for psychosis.|
Through my graduate school and postdoctoral training at UCLA (2007-2014), I studied neurodevelopmental models of psychosis risk, developed clinical expertise in the assessment of psychotic symptoms in adolescents, and identified cognitive, neuroimaging, and genomic correlates of psychotic symptoms in individuals at ultra-high risk for developing psychosis. During these experiences, I developed skills in a variety of methodologies, including structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion weighting imaging, functional MRI, and bioinformatics analyses. In my postdoctoral training with Bea Luna (University of Pittsburgh, 2014-2016), I expanded upon my neuroimaging skills, focusing on neurodevelopmental trajectories of typically developing youth, and examining neural abnormalities in first episode psychosis.
Now, under Bernie Devlinís mentorship, I am working to integrate the latest approaches to genetics and neuroimaging. I am learning statistical methods to incorporate different types of high-dimensional data, such as genetic and neuroimaging, while simultaneously incorporating a developmental perspective. Specifically, I am examining 1) how neurodevelopmental patterns of resting state fMRI networks in youth with psychotic spectrum symptoms deviate from normative development and 2) how genetic variation in key schizophrenia risk and neurodevelopmental genes is related to age-associated patterns in resting state functional connectivity.