Lonneke Lenferink

Our seventh alumni presented in this series of Alumni of Psychology is Lonneke Lenferink. She graduated from the master Health Psychology in 2013. She added the courses of the master Mental Health Promotion (now Positive Psychology & Technology) to this master. She works as a Post doc researcher at the University of Groningen and the University of Utrecht. Topics focus around the disappearance of loved ones, for example post traumatic symptoms following on a sudden loss.


Fotograph by Klaas-Jelmer Sixma

How long did it took to find your first job?

During my bachelor and master education at Utwente I conducted teaching-assistantships for several teachers and researchers. One of these researchers was Muirne Paap, which was a postdoctoral researcher at the time. After I graduated in October 2013 I continued to work with Muirne Paap as a research assistant on a project about quality of life in COPD patients. In April 2014 I started my first fulltime-job as a PhD-student at the University of Groningen and Utrecht University. My PhD project was focused on the psychological consequences of, and care after the long-term disappearance of a significant other.

What are your tasks and responsibilities?

On the 24th of May 2018 I have defended with success my dissertation. Since June 2018 I work as postdoctoral researcher at the department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Groningen and Utrecht University. I work on several research projects; all focused on coping with loss and trauma. Currently I’m analysing data and writing scientific articles about the findings regarding data that I’ve been collecting over the past 3 years among people who lost one or multiple significant others due to a plane disaster with flight MH17. We are examining the course of psychological symptoms over time and predictors of these symptoms. I’m also working on a research project focused on risk factors and treatment of psychopathology among bereaved people after traffic accidents. This project has just been started, so I’m spending my time mostly on reading literature and developing research designs.

What have you taken along your study which you now profit from?

During my time at Utwente I had the opportunity to learn from several researchers. During my bachelor- and masterthesis I was supervised in a really enthusiastic and committed manner. Furthermore, the teachers were also very driven during their lectures. For instance, findings from several PhD projects were presented and experienced psychologists gave lectures on subjects close to clinical practice. What I have learned back then about i) how proper well-designed research could look like, ii) how relevant, but also how much fun, research could be, and ii) how engaged teachers could positively affect me as a student, are things that I’m still profiting from in my daily life as researcher, but also as supervisor of masterthesis students.

What do you hope to achieve in your career?

As a bachelor student Psychology I had never thought that I would work as a PhD student one day. While I was working on my bachelor- and masterthesis I became so enthusiastic about conducting research that I hoped that I could start a PhD project. During the last four years I hoped that I was able to deliver a dissertation that would be relevant for clinical practice. I have just finished my PhD-project and started a new job. Now I hope that I will continue researching how people cope with loss and trauma and that this research will greatly impact clinical practice.

If you think about your study time, which memory comes to mind?

The very long trips by train from Zwolle to Enschede Drienerlo via Deventer because of long-term railway maintenance.

Which tips and tricks would you like to give to current students?

Learning about what your talents are and gaining insights in what you like to do, but also what you don’t like to do, could be explored by experience. Obtaining relevant experiences in jobs, such as teaching-assistantships, research assistantships, or assistantships in the clinical field, is in my opinion very valuable. E-mail that person where you would like to learn from or stop by the office of that teacher who gave that interesting lecture. I have experienced that this proactive attitude is often well received and in some cases leads to something new in the near or further future. The next time, you might be knocking on the door of your future employer, who knows!

Her PhD thesis about the disappearance of a significant other can be found in the University of Groningen’s database:  

Any questions to Lonneke?

This alumni has given the opportunity to answer questions about his/her work. If you have a question you are invited to mail this questions to amygdala@utwente.nl. Our moderator will bring you in touch with the alumni, who will answer your questions. For direct career opportunities you are advised to get in touch with the Human Resources department of the employer.

Get in touch!

Do you know someone who has a nice job, has an inspiring career of otherwise is interesting to join the Humans of Psychology series? Please get them in touch with us. To be able to keep this series going more alumni are needed.

Published: November 19th, 2018