I am an Assistant Professor of Behavioural Science & Public Health at Erasmus University Rotterdam. conduct behavioral experiments trying to improve the health of people living in poverty.

Moreover, I work with non-profit and governmental organizations to translate evidence from rigorous research – i.e. what works – to practice. A key project here is the Value for Money Evidence Portal (see below). 

Next to research, I teach research design, statistics and evidence-based policy for tackling global challenges. I also created an educational video series called Deception Detox (see below). 

I try to approach my work with an Effective Altruism lens: how can we use reason and evidence to do the most good?

Deception Detox

In this series we explore how key concepts in statistics and scientific methods can help distinguish between fact and fiction, and increase the positive impact we have on this world. Follow the free online course via Coursera.org or browse the short videos on the Deception Detox YouTube Channel and on our Facebook Group. Here’s the trailer: 

Value for Money Evidence Portal 

Practitioners or policy-makers aiming to increase the health and well-being of people in low and middle income countries often lack information to decide how they can do the most good. In the 10-minute video tutorial below my colleague Dr. Kellie Liket and I explain why the existing sources of information you may have access to are often not enough. In response, we have developed the Value for Money Evidence Portal.

For more information about the evidence portal see this link.

Giving for Impact Foundation

I am the co-founder of the Giving for Impact Foundation, which supports experiments that test innovative mechanisms to increase donation rates for effective programs in developing countries. See the website for more information.

Research interests

  • Behavioral insights, including nudges;
  • Health promotion, in particular sexual and reproductive health;
  • Impact evaluations (example of project);
  • Evidence-based policy making;
  • Ecological/multilevel/complex interventions;

Current research projects

  • Value for Money Evidence Portal (10-minute tutorial)
  • Multidisciplinary meetings and care pathways increase coordination in antenatal care: a clustered randomized controlled trial (abstract, also see the webinar);
  • A short psychological intervention to reduce the performance gap between students from developed and less developed countries in a Massive Open Online Course

PhD supervision

Ashleigh Woodend, MSc. Applying behavioural insights for improving maternal health (Expected 2017)

Lisenne Giel, MSc. Closing in on the performance gap in education: a nudging approach (Expected 2019)


2017: €300k from FNO to implement and evaluate a complex health intervention (PI)

2016: €25k from Erasmus University to improve Value for Money Evidence Portal

2015: €65k from Erasmus University Grant to develop MOOC (massive open online course)

Papers & co 

Harms, J., Liket, K., Protzko, J., & Schölmerich, V. (2017). Free to help? An experiment on free will belief and altruism. PloS one, 12(3), e0173193. (open access version)

Schölmerich, V. L. N., & Kawachi, I. (2016). Translating the Socio-Ecological Perspective Into Multilevel Interventions Gaps Between Theory and Practice. Health Education & Behavior, 43(1), 17-20. (link)

Schölmerich, V. L. N., & Kawachi, I. (2016). Translating the Social-Ecological Perspective Into Multilevel Interventions for Family Planning How Far Are We? Health Education & Behavior, 43(3), 246-255.

Ashleigh Woodend, Vera Schölmerich, and Semiha Denktaş. (2015). “Nudges” to Prevent Behavioral Risk Factors Associated With Major Depressive Disorder. American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print.

Posthumus, Anke G., Schölmerich, Vera LN et al. “The Association of Ethnic Minority Density with Late Entry into Antenatal Care in the Netherlands.” PloS one 10.4 (2015). (open access version)

Schölmerich, V.L.N. (2014, November 18). Born into Inequality. Erasmus University Rotterdam. (PhD thesis, download here)

Schölmerich VLN, Posthumus AG, Ghorashi H, Waelput AJM, Groenewegen P, Denktaş S. (2014) Improving interprofessional coordination in Dutch midwifery and obstetrics: a qualitative study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:145 (open access version)

Schölmerich VLN, Erdem Ö, Borsboom G, Ghorashi H, Groenewegen P, Steegers EAP, Kawachi I, Denktas S. (2014) The Association of Neighborhood Social Capital and Ethnic (Minority) Density with Pregnancy Outcomes in the Netherlands. PLoS ONE 9(5): e95873. (open access version)

Peters IA, Schölmerich VLN, Veen van DW, Steegers EAP, Denktaş S. (2014) Recruitment of non-Western ethnic minority participants for reproductive health peer education. Journal for Multicultural Education. In Press.

Posthumus AG, Schölmerich VLN, Waelput AJ, Vos AA, De Jong-Potjer LC, Bakker R, Bonsel GJ, Groenewegen P, Steegers EAP, Denktaş S (2013). Bridging Between Professionals in Perinatal Care: Towards Shared Care in The Netherlands. Maternal and child health journal. (abstract and link to open access version)

Denktaş S, Jong-Potjer LC, Waelput AJM, Temel S, Voorst van SF, Vos AA, Schölmerich VLN, Bonsel GJ, Kooy van der J, Quispel C, Poeran VJJ, Peters IA, Vujkovic M, Bakker R, Steegers EAP (2012). Preconception Care: A Review of the Evidence, University Medical Centre Rotterdam, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. (pdf)