Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Tamara de Kloe

Date of news: 3 January 2022


What's your name, nationality, current function, and department?
Hi all, my name is Tamara de Kloe. I am of Dutch origin. Although, I expect to possess some Mediterranean blood given my love for Spain and spending a decent amount of time outdoors, in the sun, dancing, eating and socialising. As of today, I am a second-year PhD student in the Statistical Imaging Neuroscience Group.

What is the topic of your PhD project and what does your work look like in practice?
What I am after in my PhD project is to discover what changes in functional connectivity tell us about cognition. In my PhD proposal, I suggested developing a novel time-varying (or dynamic) functional connectivity method which allows probing the multiple, interacting processes that constitute emotion regulation, and how this goes awry in mood and anxiety disorders. In practice this means that I sit behind my computer, I code and I try out a lot of things.

What has your career path been so far and how did you come to your current position?
That’s quite a long story, including a bachelor in cognitive neuroscience and psychology, working for international aid organisations and consultancy companies, running a dance school and taking some time off because of a brain injury. After the latter, I started with a behavioural science research master, where I was happiest in the statistics courses. In that same year, I did an internship at the Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems lab in Barcelona, where I worked on a neural network. Although going in I wasn’t quite sure what that entailed, I loved it. I then decided to switch to the cognitive neuroscience research master. For my internship, I worked on a novel time-varying functional connectivity method with Alberto Llera in Christian Beckmann’s lab. I received funding to continue this work from the RadboudUMC Top Talent grant (with Nils Kohn as my primary supervisor).

What did you want to be when you were younger?
Throughout primary and high school I was convinced I wanted to be a doctor, working for “Artsen Zonder Grenzen” (i.e., Doctors Without Borders). Given how clumsy I can be, retrospectively it is probably not terrible I eventually decided otherwise. The reason for that was that after visiting a few open days I wasn’t all that thrilled about learning pre-existing diagnostic schemes. I rather wanted to study what mental health constitutes and how psychiatric disorders should be diagnosed.

What is your favourite book and why?
My favourite book is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. It’s a retelling of the story of Achilles and the Trojan War from the perspective of his female bed-slave Briseis. After, I read almost all of the existing feminist retellings of Greek Myths, but none live up to this one.

What is the most important advice you want to share with Donders PhD candidates?
I just started Cross-Fit, where we are often instructed to do 10-20 rounds of something. They keep reminding us to pace ourselves, such that we won’t be done for halfway through but get to enjoy it until the end. I need that reminder, as I would rather keep going at 300%. I’m learning to pace though and I’m quite convinced that (as a by-product of being happier and healthier) it actually increases productivity and creativity.

What aspect of your job do you excel at?
Hyper-focussing, if that’s a verb. People tell me it’s very hard to reach and/or distract me when I’m working. My boyfriend illustratively tells the story of how at the beginning of the lock-down I worked at the kitchen table and even though he was vacuum cleaning, moving things and talking to me and I wouldn’t look up once.

What aspect of your job is or has been a challenge for you?
Zoom! The previous does not at all apply here: everything is a distraction in virtual meetings.