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.

Marie vandenBroeke, PhD Student 

Marie studied psychology in Christchurch before coming to Victoria in 2014 to do her Masters in Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience. She did her thesis in our group studying reward anticipation in the dopamine D1 mutant rats. She is now returning back to do her PhD which will focus on the prenatal immune activation model.

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.

Honours Students 

Sahir Hussain

Sahir is currently performing his honours thesis in our group, focusing on the question whether rats with a genetically compromised serotonin transporter are differentially susceptible to alcohol.

 Diana Rosalinda

Diana is currently working on her Honours research project in our group, investigating whether continuous valproate administration to rats induces autism-like behaviours.

 Livia McPhedran

Livia is currently working on her Honours research project examining how mothers with a genetically compromised serotonin transporter behave towards their pups.

Undergraduate Students

Kelsey O’Neale

Kelsey is currently doing an undergraduate project within our group focusing on social behaviour and how different social paradigms are interrelated.

Daniel Chaji

Daniel is currently doing an undergraduate project within our group focusing on social behaviour and how different social paradigms are interrelated

International Interns and Guests

Emiel Leegwater (Utrecht, the Netherlands) 

Emiel obtained his Bachelor degree in Pharmacy at Utrecht University in 2014. Emiel has recently joined our group to investigate how a genetic reduction in the serotonin transporter impacts on the brain. To that extent he will investigate neurogenesis, spine and interneuron density in the brains of young pups.

Shana Sygrove Savill 

Shana is currently a volunteer in our group, working on the analysis of ultrasonic vocalizations and play behaviour.

Shannon Garland 

Shannon obtained a summer scholarship in our group, working on effort-based learning in serotonin transporter knock-out rats.



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)