Leonie Oostwoud Wijdenes

Favourite Thing: To come up with a new experiment that can potentially answer a long outstanding question.



1996-2002 state school in Breukelen, Netherlands; 2002-2007 BSc and MSc Human Movement Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands


The Dutch school system doesn’t work with A levels, but I graduated in biology, maths, chemistry, physics, arts, dutch and english

Work History:

Through school I worked in a bakery, a pharmacy, as a gymnastics trainer, in a dinner show and in a pub. After my MSc I was a research assistant in Human Movement Sciences and Dentistry. In 2009 I started my PhD in Human Movement Sciences in Amsterdam, which I finished in 2013. In summer 2013 I moved to London for my current job

Current Job:

Research associate


University College London

Me and my work

I’m a human movement scientist who investigates how our brain controls eye-hand coordination, for example to understand how we play ball sports or computer games.

My Typical Day

Thinking about experiments, analyzing data, reading other scientists papers and writing up my own papers, all on my computer.

Most days I work on data analyses and writing up the results. On Wednesdays I have meetings where I discuss my work with other scientist and learn about their work. When I run an experiment (about once a months), I’m in the lab for a couple of days in a row. About 2-3 times a year I go to a conference (mostly abroad) and for this I have to prepare a poster or a talk.

What I'd do with the money

I would donate the money to a science communication project that my lab manager is running at his son’s school.

Paul is the man who takes care of all the equipment in the labs where I work. He organizes science projects at his son’s school. Now he has come up with the idea to organize something like a live I’m a scientist get me out of here. If I would win, I would donate the money to this project.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

sociable, perseverant, committed

Who is your favourite singer or band?

I like most music, especially music that I can dance to

What's your favourite food?

massaman curry, spinace-pancake-pie, red peppers, biscuits and cakes

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Flying the trapeze! I practice every week in circus school.

What did you want to be after you left school?

I had no idea, but I thought I wanted to work with people. Instead of working with them, I ended up studying people’s movements….

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Almost never; I don’t like to be in trouble

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Get my current job at University College London

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

Teachers at university. They opened my eyes to all these interesting questions that you can ask about how we are able to move our bodies through the world. And they taught me how to find an answer to those questions.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

I don’t know really. Maybe I would have been a secretary or assistant, I like to plan and organize things.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Get my own funding to do research, publish my work in highly regarded journals, and be happy!

Tell us a joke.

Where do snowman go to dance? Snowballs!

Other stuff

Work photos:


This is the experimental set-up I use to measure eye movements. The black thing in front of the computer registers where people are looking.


I use this box to track hand movements. The thing on top is a computer and people are looking to the screen via a mirror.


This is me defending my thesis in public; probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done.


One of my favourite things in science is meeting people from all over the world because they are working on the same research questions. Here I’m presenting my work at an annually organized Neuroscience conference (30.000 scientists attend each year) in New Orleans.


Science allows me to travel quite a lot. For instance, I’ve spend 6 weeks in a lab in Berkeley, California last spring. This was the view from my desk: the San Fransisco’s skyline!