In short, my PhD research, which I carried out at the department of Psychological Methods of the University of Amsterdam under supervision of professor Han van der Maas, prof. Conor Colan and dr. Jelte Wicherts, concerned the development of (general, fluid and crystallized) intelligence as a function of genetic and environmental influences. Although one may consider the nature of my thesis as being substantially theoretical and scientific philosophical, I note that "[t]here is nothing so practical as a good theory”. (Lewin, 1951). This is to say that the development of substantive theory helped me to become an expert in the analysis and statistical modeling of empirical data, or 'data scientist', to use a modern phrase.
The extensive education in research methods, statistics, and (statistical) programming, did not simply train me to carry out data analyses on my own, but also enabled me to improve or to some up with new statistical methods. Because of this expertise, I'm often asked to provide statistical or methodological advice to others, especially when they need more sophisticated statistical models or research designs than they are used to, or when they got stuck and need help. I consider lecturing statistics (structural equation modeling) as part of this advisory role.
At present, like in the past few years, I am a researcher at the department of Biological Psychology of the VU University in Amsterdam, where I investigate environmental and genetic effects on the development of individual differences in psychopathology and cognitive ability throughout the full course of development. As it turns out, changes in environmental and genetic effects are often confounded with methodological effects, for example changes in measurement. So, in order to fully understand the developmental pathways of environmental and genetic influences on human traits, one first needs to first get a grip on the confounding. This can be accomplished by proper statistical modeling, with the emphasis on the word 'proper'.
Through my experience with confounding effects in behavioral genetic modeling, one can say that confounding in general has become my field of expertise. This came in handy at the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Vermont, U.S.A., for example, who employed me for half a year to help them investigate genes-brains-behavior relationships (properly!). To this end they let me work with the IMAGEN data set (IMAGEN is a pretty cool European consortium that aims to investigating mental health and risk taking behavior in teenagers) and asked for advice in the analyses of data from ENIGMA (another such cool consortium). In addition, I helped to (cross-)validate of the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA), which is widely used in the assessment of psychopathology.
During my previous VU research, I used to work with twin data collected by the Netherlands Twin Register, which is one of the most influential twin registries in the world (thanks to professor Dorret Boomsma and her colleagues), but current, I work with similar Norwegian twin data collected by the Psykologisk institutt in Oslo. This institute also needed someone in order to get their data analyzed (properly!).
Jenny van Beek
Michelle van Fulpen
Eco de Geus
Janneke de Kort
Hilko van Rooijen
Eveline de Zeeuw
other cool peops