Principal Investigator

Bart Bart Ellenbroek, PhD 

Bart studied Chemistry at the Radboud University in Nijmegen and after his Master’s degree spent one year in Saudia Arabia and one year at the Max Planck Institute in Goettingen (Germany) before moving back to Nijmegen for his PhD. From 1988 to 2006 he was assistant and associate professor at the department of psychoneuropharmacology, specialising in animal models for psychiatric disorder. In 2006 he moved to Evotec, a biotech company in Hamburg (Germany) where he was group leader and vice-president of neuropharmacology. He joined Victoria in 2011 and since January 2014 he is professor for behavioural neurosciences in the school of Psychology.

You can view Bart’s staff profile on the Victoria University of Wellington website.


Technical Staff


jiun-youn Jiun Youn, Laboratory Co-ordinator 

Jiun studied health science at Yonsei University in Seoul, south Korea (BsC) and psychology at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She did her PhD at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam on the interaction between emotion and cognition in mice. She is passionate about developing new animal models for psychiatric disorders. She started working as a lab coordinator at Victoria in 2013.

Postgraduate Students

Michaela Pettie, PhD Student 

Michaela studied Psychology and Linguistics at Massey University, and transferred to Victoria University in 2012 to pursue papers and experience in the Behavioural Neuroscience field. Michaela completed her Bachelor of Science with Honours in 2015. During her honours year Michaela looked at the role of Serotonin and Dopamine, following MDMA and Amphetamine treatment in the SERT KO rat. Michaela has recently upgraded to a PhD in Science in Psychology focusing on an animal model for Autism Spectrum Disorders, looking at the interaction between continuous prenatal exposure to valproate and a genetically reduced serotonin transporter.

Linda Wilkin-Krug, PhD Student 

Linda completed her Bachelor of Science with Honours in experimental Psychology at Massey University in 2017. In 2018 she joined the lab to pursue a PhD in behavioural neuroscience, focussing on an empathy animal model for autism spectrum disorder. Linda’s research will investigate how growing up in an enriched environment impacts on gene expression and empathy-driven behaviours in autistic individuals. She hopes that her findings will be useful to guide advances in the treatment of autism, which in turn will improve the quality of life of those affected.

Meyrick Kidwell, Master’s Student 

Meyrick is currently working on his Master’s in Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience. His thesis will focus on assessing depression-like characteristics in serotonin transporter knock-out rats using a series of novel behavioural and physiological tests.

Saskia Ymker, Master’s Student 

Saskia has recently started her MSc in biology. She will be working on a joint project with Melanie McConnell, looking at the epigenetic changes in rats prenatally exposed to LPS.

Amy O’Connell, Master’s Student 

Amy is working on her Master project, which focusses on the relationship between heart and mind. Specifically she will investigate whether high levels of serotonin during development enhance the risk of depression, anxiety and heart problems.

Diana Rosalinda, Master’s Student 

After her honours thesis in the lab last year, Diana has now started her Master project. in this project she will investigate why tobacco smoke is more addictive than nicotine. Specifically, she will study the role of new monoamine oxidase inhibitors and whether these enhance the rewarding properties of nicotine.

Sarah Tapnikar, Master’s Student 

Sarah’s Master project focusses around the question how high levels of serotonin early in development alter the brain and body. To that end she will study changes in neurochemistry in the serotonin transorter knock-out rats using MALDI and metabolomics. This is a collaborative project with Bill Jordan and Rob Keyzers. .

Honours Students 

Daniel Chaji

Daniel is currently performing his honours thesis in our group, focusing on how Drebrin levels are changed in the serotonin transporter knock-out rats, and whether these changes are aggravated after self-administration of drugs of abuse.

 Stephanie Huang

Stephanie is currently working on her Honours research project, focussing on the behavioural changes induced by prenatal exposure to LPS. She will in particular study the hypothesis that early exposure lead to more cognitive deficits, while later exposures more to emotioanl problems.

 Tessa Peck

Tessa has recently joined our group from Dunedin. Her honours thesis focusses on the role fathers play in raising rats, Traditionally male rats are separated before mothers give birth. However, some recent research suggest that males can indeed participate in the care of the offspring. Tessa will investigate whether this is the case in our animals and whether this influences their behaviour in adulthood.

Undergraduate Students

Sarah Foote

Sarah is currently doing an undergraduate project within our group focusing on drinking behaviour in rats to investigate the role of social stimuli in drinking behaviour.

International Interns and Guests

 Kristin Claussen

Kristin joined our group from the University of Bremen. The project focusses on testing a new lick-o-meter and specifically to invesitgate whether this device accurately measures drinking behaviour and whether it can distinguish between different rats.



Emiel Leegwater (the Netherlands)

Sahir Hussain (NZ)

Marc Doucet (France)

Justine Michelat (France)

Violette Miallier (France)


Peter Ranger (NZ)

Uta Waterhouse (NZ)

Alana Oakly (NZ)

Bridget Brox (NZ)

Abby Vorstermans (NZ)

Claire Waddington (NZ)

Marie vandenBroeke (NZ)

Matthew Westbury (NZ)

Stephan Badr (the Netherlands)

Helena Voetterl (Germany)

Mireia Alemany I Pages (Spain)

Kate Vlessis USA)

Laura Anderson (NZ)

Angela Sargeant (NZ)

David Timm (Austria)


Sanne de Bok (the Netherlands)

Judith Peters (the Netherlands)

Caren August (NZ)

Lisette Klein (the Netherlands)


Raquel Hulst (the Netherlands)

Jenny Berrio (Columbia, now in Brasil)


Anne Arola (NZ, now in Finland)

Nancy de Groot (the Netherlands)


Jacqueline Langedijk (the Netherlands)



Dr. Yah-se Komla Abada (Contact:
ICM – Team Alzheimer’s and Prion diseases (Paris, France)

Dr. Andrea Cesura (Contact:
Independent Pharma consultant (Geneva, Switzerland)

Assoc. Prof Judith Homberg
Radboud University of Nijmegen (Nijmegen, the Netherlands)

Assoc. Prof Tim Karl
Neuroscience Research Australia (Sydney, Australia)

Dr Heidi Lesscher  (Contact:
University of Utrecht (Utrecht, the Netherlands)

Prof Gerard Martens
Radboud University of Nijmegen (Nijmegen, the Netherlands)

Prof Aleksander Mathe (Contact:
Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden)

Dr Jocelien Olivier
University of Groningen (Groningen, the Netherlands)

Dr Eric Prinssen (Contact:
Roche Pharma Research & Early Development

Prof Marco Riva
University of Milan (Milan, Italy)

Prof Weiwen Wang
Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing, China)