Dr. H.M.B. (Heidi) Lesscher

Associate Professor
Behavioural Neuroscience
+31 6 39 585 507

Research grants:

Main applicant / Principal role in application and project coordination:

2018  UU Strategic Theme Dynamics of Youth (DoY) support for theme project “Healthy Play Better Coping”.

2017 Morris Animal Foundation pilot grant “Biomarkers for chronic stress as novel tools to assess cetaceans welfare”.

2015 Seed Grant from the UU Strategic Theme Dynamics of Youth (DoY) “The adolescent paradox: unravelling adolescent risk and resilience to alcohol use disorders”.

2015  TOP Grant from the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development "Shining light on loss of control over substance and food intake". 

2014 UU Strategic Theme Dynamics of Youth (DoY) support for Theme Coordinator “An interdisciplinary collaborative network to study addictive behaviours in youth: prevention, treatment, and policy”.

2011  Grant from the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, Knowledge Utilization Grant 91501007 “Specific 14-3-3 zeta complex modulators for the treatment of alcoholism”.

2008  VENI grant from the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, Innovative Research Incentives Scheme, Grant 91676134 “Involvement of the amygdala in the development of alcoholism”.

2007  Fellowship from the Brain Foundation of the Netherlands, Grant H06.08 “Alcoholism: neurobiological mechanisms and genetic susceptibility”.

2004  Outgoing International Fellowship, Marie Curie, Grant MOIF-CT-2004-002812 European Union “Amygdala CRF in reduced anxiety and alcohol consumption in PKCepsilon null mice”.

Co-applicant / advisor:

2018  Creatieve industrie - Kennis Innovatie Mapping (KIEM) grant “Dangerous Games: Deploying Game Design to Combat Drug-related Threats to Health and Public Order”. Advisor

2017 Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC) grant “Unraveling adolescent resilience to alcohol: A parallel fMRI study in humans and rats”. Co-applicant.

2017  ZonMw Top Grant Off-Road “Light to fight addiction” awarded to K. Smolders, TU/Eindhoven. Advisor.

2016  Research Council of Norway funded project “Which brain projections are involved in natural reward?” awarded to Dr. E. Snoeren. Advisor.

2016  Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development VENI grant awarded to Sita ter Haar “Causal mechanisms of birdsong learning performance as a model of human speech and language acquisition” (Utrecht University). Advisor.

2014  Grant from the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand “Does a genetic alternation in serotonin transporter function predict compulsive alcohol use in rats?”. Co-applicant.

2011  Neuroscience and Cognition Utrecht, “Controlling behavior using optogenetics”. Co-applicant.

Completed Projects
Imagining More-than-Human Communities 01.04.2021 to 31.01.2024
General project description

What can we do to feel more in touch with the natural world? Is technology a barrier, or can it help us communicate and feel empathy with other species? Could technology help foster a sense of community between humans and nonhumans? If so, what might such a more-than-human community look like—or feel like, smell like, etc.? Whom would it include? And who decides?

Our project sets out to imagine a more equitable community of humans and nonhumans and to make it a reality in our everyday lives. The project is animated by two basic premises:

  1. The spaces we inhabit are already more-than-human; we just need to learn to see (and feel) that humans are not separate from nature. We want to develop awareness and ideas for how these spaces can be playfully and creatively experienced as more-than-human communities.
  2. Truly unusual interdisciplinarity must be inter- and multispecies (more-than-human) and predicated on playful (open-ended) interaction, not exploitation and extraction (of data, resources, etc.).

How can we break out of our anthropocentric worldview? Drawing on our shared expertise in engineering, ethics, ethology, language and representation, we want to develop an escape room format that unites technology, sense perception, and creative problem solving to stimulate the more-than-human imagination. Ultimately, we would like to take this on the road, to engage playfully with students, academics, policymakers and stakeholders in a variety of (unusual) settings (animal sanctuaries, zoos, farms, robotics labs, etc.).

A playfully designed multimedia and multisensory more-than-human-community experience combined with facilitated discussions will enhance the collective insight in our own communities and strengthen the desire to look for multispecies alternatives for the challenges that societies face.

Betweter Festival Utrecht - Experiment High-Five with a Non-Human

On 29 September 2023, the Imagining More-than-Human Communities team ran an experiment at the Betweter Festival in Utrecht. Attendees were invited to explore a new haptic interface and imagine what it would mean to interact with a nonhuman entity remotely via the medium of technology. We asked participants to reflect on how technology can help us feel more connected with the nonhuman world.

External funding Centre for Unusual Collaborations
External project members
  • Clemens Driessen
  • Bernice Bovenkerk
  • Irene Kuling