PhD Student

Last application date
May 15, 2022 00:00
LA26 - Department of Data Analysis and Mathematical Modelling
Limited duration
MSc degree in (Applied) Mathematics, Mathematical Biology or Mathematical Sciences, (Bioscience) Engineering, Physics, or equivalent
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

We welcome applications for a PhD position on the topic “Mathematical modelling of infectious diseases and opinions on networks”. The PhD scholarship is available in the field of spatio-temporal modelling under the supervision of Prof. Jan Baetens (the research unit Knowledge-Based Systems - - at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University), Prof. Luis Rocha (Complex Systems Institute - - Dept of Economics and Dept of Physics and Astronomy, Ghent University) and Prof Odemir Bruno (Scientific Computing Group, Physics Institute São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo (USP)). The scholarship will lead to the title of Doctor of Bioscience Engineering: Mathematical Modelling. The student will be based at Ghent University, Belgium, with a possibility to make short visits to the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. This should allow the PhD candidate to obtain a joint PhD UGent-USP.

Understanding and forecasting how infectious diseases and opinions spread remains a key challenge in mathematical epidemiology and social sciences. Ideally, the underlying processes are described at the individual level by tracking each individual explicitly throughout time and space, though such a description comes at a considerable computational cost. This can, however, to some extent be overcome by resorting to a (dynamic) network-based description of the interactions between people, as such arriving at network-based models of the spread of infections and opinions. Yet, when using such models, we should be aware that the model dynamics might be (extremely) sensitive to the structure, size and configuration of the underlying contact and social networks. Once we have a good understanding of this sensitive dependence, we might couple epidemic and opinion models to describe how they affect each other. For instance, vaccination and compliance with imposed containment and confinement measures are strongly determined by people’s opinion, which in turn affect incidence rates across the population.

Job profile

To unravel the aforementioned sensitive dependence, develop a coupled epidemiologic-opinion model and contribute to our research and expertise on spatially explicit modelling of biological and natural processes in general, we are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate.
The ideal candidate for the position has the following profile:

  • MSc degree in (Applied) Mathematics, Mathematical Biology or Mathematical Sciences, (Bioscience) Engineering, Physics, or equivalent
  • Interest in mathematical/computational modelling, interdisciplinary research, and strong motivation for conducting scientific research
  • Ample experience in at least one programming language (Python, R, Matlab, C/C++, etc.)
  • Good knowledge of spatio-temporal modelling paradigms and/or networks are strong assets
  • Fluent in English (speaking and writing)
  • Works well independently as well as in a team

The selection procedure consists of two steps. Firstly, a shortlist of the candidates will be made based on their motivation letter and CV. Secondly, the shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview during which they’ll have to present their master thesis research, a research paper and a computational task we’ll then provide.

How to apply

The PhD position will begin at the earliest on 1st July 2022. Interested candidates should apply by sending their motivation letter and CV to before May 15, 2022.