Dr Maartje Luijten

Assistant Professor, Behavioural Science Institute, Faculty of Social Sciences.


Dr Maartje Luijten studied biological psychology and earned her Research Master’s degree in Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuropsychology, and Psychopathology cum laude in 2007. In February 2008, she started her PhD research at the Erasmus University Rotterdam into the neurocognitive processes in regard to smoking behaviour. During this period, she spent four months at the University of Melbourne in Australia, after which she obtained her doctorate cum laude in 2012. As a postdoc researcher at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, she has more than a year of research experience into “gamers”, people who are addicted to playing computer games. During this period, she also spent five months abroad at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

Dr Maartje Luijten is an international neurosciences expert in the field of addiction in adults and youth. In her VENI project, she performs research into the role of habit-related systems in the brain in the development of nicotine addiction in high risk youth. An important aim of her research is also to develop games that aid young adults in quitting smoking. She has received several grants and her work and papers are regularly rewarded with travel grants and prizes. The jury appreciates her utilisation of different means to reach her goals.

In the context of her education, she makes a great deal of collaboration possible. She has initiated structural cooperation between Radboud University and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney, Australia. This contributes significantly to the ambitions of the university regarding internationalisation and guarantees more than 10 internships for outstanding students each year. In addition, she promotes the link between studying and working in the field for students by collaborating with various clinical organisations. Students rate her education very highly: an average of 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5.

In addition to her research and education, she also participates in a large number of extracurricular activities. She is a scientific advisor at the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport and works closely with various secondary schools, where she provides education about frequent smoking and addiction and gives the schools advice about smoking policy. In the Scientific Advisory Committee of the BSI, she provides recommendations regarding the feasibility and quality of all PhD projects at the institute. The jury commends Dr Maartje Luijten primarily because she has made the results of her research widely accessible to a large audience via outlets such as a blog and a website. In her blog, various scientists write about their scientific results and she makes these accessible for a broader audience such as parents, teachers, healthcare providers, and policy makers. Furthermore, she has created her own website for sharing the results of her research and to give smokers advice on how to quit.

The other fourteen nominees in the Social Sciences Category were: Dr Karin Verweij, Dr Janna Vrijsen, Dr Tessa van Leeuwen, Dr Barbara Müller, Dr Tessa Lansu, Dr Yvonne van den Berg, Dr Roseriet Beijers, Dr Maaike Cima, Dr Roza Meuleman, Dr Masha Fedorova, Dr Jorien Treur, Dr Simone Ritter, Dr Anne Kösem, and Dr Maaike Verhagen.