Who we are

Babylab Director

Sabine HunniusDr. Sabine Hunnius is the director of the Baby Research Center. She is head of the Baby BRAIN  research group.


Lab Manager

Angela KhadarAngela Khadar, B.A. obtained a Bachelor's degree from the University of Manchester, UK, where she studied Linguistics, French and German.She works in both the Language Acquisition group and the Social-Cognitive Development group.


Language Acquisition – Fikkert/Cutler research group

Faculty of Letters, Radboud Univeresity, Nijmegen (CLS)

Paula FikkertProf. dr. Paula Fikkert- Professor in First Language Acquisition and Phonology at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. Paula obtained her doctorate at the University of Leiden with a thesis on the acquisition of prosodic aspects of words. She then worked at the University of Konstanz in Germany before returning to the Netherlands as a researcher with the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts & Sciences. Her research focuses on the acquisition of sounds and words in both language perception and production.

Nienke DijkstraNienke Dijkstra, M.A. studied Speech Therapy and Speech and Language  Pathology in Nijjmegen. For her PhD she is looking at how babies learn sounds both in language perception and production.  

Stefanie Ramachers studied German and Linguistics at the University of Nijmegen. For her PhD she is investigating the development of perception and comprehension of the tone system of the Limburg dialect in babies and toddlers between the ages of 12 and 36 months. 

AntjeAntje Stöhr, M.A. studied Linguistics and Cognitive Science at the University of Delaware, USA. In her PhD she is investigating the nature of phonological representations in bilingual preschoolers.

TitiaTitia Benders conducted her PhD research at the University of Amsterdam, where she studied the relationship between infant vowel perception and Dutch mothers' infant-directed speech. As a postdoc researcher with the Radboud University Nijmegen, she is investigating whether the pronunciation 'errors' that young children make are due to their word perception skills. 


Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

Anne CutlerProf. dr. Anne Cutler- Professor in Comparative Language Psychology and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholoingistics. Anne started her career studying Psychology at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and obtained a PhD in Psycholinguistics from the University of Texas, USA. She worked at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology in the USA and at the University of Cambridge, UK, before coming to the Netherlands in 1993. In 2001 she was awarded the Spinoza Prize, which she used to set up the Baby Research Center. 

Social-cognitive development – Baby BRAIN research group

Faculty of Social Sciences, Radboud University, Nijmegen (Donders Center for Cognition)

 Sabine HunniusDr. Sabine Hunnius is director of the Baby Research Center. She studied Psychology in Berlin, Germany, and did her PhD at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Her earlier research centered around visual perception in babies and interaction between mothers and babies. Her current research focuses mainly on early social-cognitive development. For example, she is looking at how babies learn to understand the actions and intentions of other people and when they start to do this. 

Harold BekkeringProf. dr. Harold Bekkering is Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the Radboud University, Nijmegen and Director of the Donders Centre for Cognition. He has a number of large international and national research projects centered around goal-oriented actions with particular emphasis on the semantic knowledge that we use to initiate our own actions and to understand the actions of others.    

Hinke EndekijkHinke Endedijk obtained her Master's in Behavioural Science from the Radboud University in Nijmegen. For her PhD she is looking at how well young children spontaneously adapt their behaviour to that of others. She is also investigating the role that this plays in children's social development.  

 Marlene MeyerDr. Marlene Meyer  obtained her PhD at the Radboud University and as a post-doc is investigating how young children develop the ability to interact successfully with others. She is therefore looking at children’s behaviour and their brain processes while they are interacting with another person.  

Ricarda Braukmann MSc. studied Cognitive Neuroscience at the Radboud University Nijmegen. As a PhD student, she is now investigating the development of infants at risk for developing autism by virtue of having an older sibling diagnosed with this condition. Her PhD is part of an EU-wide project that aims to shed light on the early signs and possible treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  

vanschaikj photoJohanna van Schaik, MSc. obained her Master's in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Radboud University of Nijmegen. Her PhD project investigates the development of behavioral mimicry and the social and cognitive factors that underlie it. 

ClaireMClaire Monroy is a PhD student here at the Donders Institute as well as as a Marie Curie fellow within the ACT network. Originally from California, she moved to Massachusetts to complete her B.A. in neuroscience and psychology. After spending 2 years working as both as a bilingual behavior analyst with individuals with developmental disorders, and as a case manager for high-risk families in California, Claire then moved to Lisbon, Portugal to work in the Neural Circuits and Behavior lab at the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme. For her PhD, Claire will investigate how the brain processes social interactions that the infant is actively engaging in early in development.

Ezgi Kayhan1Ezgi Kayhan is a PhD student at the Donders Institute and is also a Marie Curie fellow within the ACT network. Ezgi received her Bachelor's degree in psychology and obtained a Master's degree in clinical psychology. She has worked with children both as a clinical psychologist and in research. For her PhD, Ezgi will investigate how infants use cues to attend to relevant elements of a social scene which is predominantly unknown. Understanding the elements that are required for the detection of important social information and the cues that social information provide to other forms of learning are the focus of her project.

RenskeRenske van der Cruijsen is a a Master's student in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Nijmegen. She is also currently working as a student assistant at the Baby Research Center. 

lorijnLorijn Zaadnoordijk studied Cognitive Neuroscience at the Radboud University Nijmegen. In her PhD project, her research topic is the emergence of agency (the feeling that your actions are caused and generated by you) in young infants. She aims to answer the question of how the information generated by an infant's actions and the perceptual consequences of this action can give rise to a sense of agency.


Language and Cognition - Levinson research group

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

Dr Steven C Levinson, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics


Elma01aDr. Elma Hilbrink  studied psychology in Nijmegen and did her PhD at Cardiff University, UK. She is a postdoctoral researcher in the Language & Cognition group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. Elma is very interested in the social-cognitive development of infants and young children. At the Baby Research Center she is currently studying the development of various aspects of communication in interaction. 

Marisa1Dr Marisa Casillas received her PhD in Linguistics from Stanford University and now works as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute in Nijmegen on the Interactional Foundations of Language project. She studies how children's conversational skills develop hand-in-hand with their linguistic development.


Early development of psychology, behavior and health - de Weerth research group

Behavioural Science Institute: developmental psychobiology lab (DPBlab)

Prof. Dr. Carolina de Weerth is a biologist with a PhD in developmental psychology. She has a full professorship in “psychobiology of early development”. Her research centers on pregnancy, infancy and childhood. The integration of biological and psychological developmental processes is fundamental in her research.

Dr Roseriet Beijers did her PhD research at Radboud University on the relationship between the prenatal and early postnatal rearing environment and the development of babies and young children. She now works as an assistant professor at Radboud University where she is continuing her research.

Dr Sara Pieters did her PhD at Radboud University and now works here as a postdoctoral researcher. Her research focuses on the relationship between sport, sleep, and emotional problems during pregnancy.

Maartje Zijlmans, MSc. studied educational sciences and graduated from the research master Behavioural Science program at Radboud University. As a PhD she is investigating the relationship between prenatal stress and child development. She is looking at the microbiota in the gut and cortisol regulation as possible underlying mechanisms.

Sterre Simons, MSc. studied psychology and obtained a research master in Behavioural Science at Radboud University. Her doctoral research focuses, among other things, on the development of children’s stress system.

Christine Hechler, MSc. studied psychology and then did a research master in Behavioural Science at Radboud University. For her PhD she is investigating the health and crying behavior of infants in relation to the composition of mother's milk and the bacteria in their intestines.

Pamela Brown, MD. studied medicine at the University of Maastricht. "My interest is in the development of intestinal bacteria in childhood and how these contribute to health. During my PhD research I therefore focus on the relationship between intestinal bacteria and physical and mental health of children. In a clinical study, I examine the relationship between prenatal maternal stress, maternal and child intestinal bacteria, and disease outcomes in the baby. I also look at the role of probiotics in reducing prenatal maternal stress.

Kelly Cooijmans, MSc. studied psychology and then completed the research master in Behavioural Science at Radboud University. In her doctoral research she looks at how the contact between parent and child is related to the development of the baby and the well-being of the parents.



Christiane Dietrich was a PhD student at the babylab and was supervised by Anne Cutler and Dan Swingley. She obtained her doctorate with a thesis on the acquisition of phonological structure. She then obtained a position as a postdoctoral researcher in Janet Werker’s lab at the University of Columbia.

Tania Zamuner carried out research within Paula Fikkert’s and René Kager’s NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) programme. She then spent a few years working on her VENI project. She also moved to Canada and is currently working at the University of British Columbia. 

Suzanne van der Feest was a PhD student in Paula Fikkert’s and René Kager’s NWO programme. She obtained her doctorate in 2007 with a thesis on the acquisition of voicing contrasts in Dutch. She then received the “Frye Stipendium” and the “Rubicon” grant, which she used to carry out research as a postdoctoral researcher in Dan Swingley’s lab in Philadelphia. Since the 1st January 2009 she has been working at the University of Texas, Austin.

Valesca Kooijman obtained her doctorate in 2007 under the supervision of Professor Dr. Anne Cutler and Professor Dr. Peter Hagoort, with a thesis on word recognition. In her research she measured both babies’ looking behaviour and their brain activity. You can read about this research on Kennislink.

Nicole Altvater-Mackensen obtained her doctorate in 2010.  Her research for her PhD focussed on how children learn words and which characteristics of speech sounds are stored. She is now working at the University of Göttingen in Germany.

Markus Paulus obtained his doctorate in 2011. His research focussed on how and when babies start to understand how objects are used and how they learn to use objects in a goal-oriented way.  He is now working at the University of Munich in Germany.

Caroline Junge. For her PhD she investigated how babies learn their first words and which mechanisms in the brain play a role in this.

Birgit Knudsen obtained her PhD in 2012. Her research focused on how and when very young children learn to understand other people's actions.  

Daniel Puccini carried out research into the link between the use of early gestures and the social-cognitive development of children. 

Helen Buckler obtained her PhD in May 2014 and is now working in Dr Elizabeth Johnson's babylab in Toronto.

Christina Bergmann studied Cognitive Neuroscience in Nijmegen and completed her intership on the acquisition of pronouns at the babylab. She obtained her PhD in 2014 with a thesis entitled: "Computational models of early language acquisition and the role of different voices." She is now continuing her research work in Paris.

Sho Tsuji studied Psychology at Humboldt University Berlin, Germany. For her PhD, which she completed in 2014, she investigated cross-linguistic commonalities and differences in the acquisition of phoneme categories.