Communication scientist Patti Valkenburg (1958) received her NWO Spinoza Prize in 2011. She is professor of Youth and Media at the University of Amsterdam, where she performs groundbreaking research into youth and the media. Valkenburg has developed a unique interdisciplinary research field on the boundaries of education, psychology and communication science. Valkenburg is the most productive and one of the most cited communication scientists in Europe.Patti Valkenburg's research focuses on young people. Her work includes studying the consequences of Internet use on the social lives of children and teenagers. She also investigates how media use, genetic predisposition and family and friends influence the development of cognitive skills, ADHD and aggression. Valkenburg is also active in the public sphere. She was one of the initiators of the 'Kijkwijzer' (Dutch motion picture rating system) and has written many books about young people and the media, including Vierkante Ogen and Beeldschermkinderen [Square Eyes and Computer Screen Children].
Valkenburg did not start her degree in Education and Child Studies at Leiden University until she was thirty. Yet she graduated cum laude just 2 years later. Subsequently in 1995 she gained her doctorate cum laude from Leiden University as well. Since then she has worked at the University of Amsterdam where she was appointed professor of Youth and Media in 1998. In the twelve years since her appointment, Valkenburg has expanded her research group from 1 person (herself) to 22 researchers using just externally acquired funding. Her research centre CCAM - Center of Research on Children, Adolescents, and the Media - is the largest of its kind in the world. In 2011, the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of the University of Amsterdam appointed Patti Valkenburg as Distinguished Research Professor in view of her exceptional research qualities.