Doctoral fellow

Last application date
Jul 07, 2020 16:17
PP07 - Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology
Employment category
Doctoral fellow
Limited duration
Master’s degree in psychology or a related discipline
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description

At Ghent university, in the Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, we are looking for two full-time PhD students as part of an ERC-funded project (Outside-In: How Bullying in Adolescence Gets Into The Mind and Under the Skin; ERC-2019-STG- 853517).

The overall aim of this project is to examine the emotional and biological mechanisms linking bullying victimization to health outcomes in adolescence. Being bullied is a major stressor for many adolescents and it is recognized as a public health concern worldwide. Adolescents who are exposed to bullying are at increased risk for mental and physical health problems, which could even perpetuate into adulthood. Unfortunately, current understanding of how bullying can pose such deleterious effects remain poor, thus limiting our ability to inform prevention and intervention efforts. This ERC project aims to address this fundamental gap by examining (a) how exposure to bullying may alter psychological (e.g., emotional) and biological (e.g., HPA-axis) processes among adolescents in real-time in their real-life, using the experience sampling method (b) the extent to which bullying influences gene expression processes resulting in a gene expression profile characterized by enhanced pro-inflammatory activity, that increases risk for health problems. Together, this research has the potential to offer unique insights about short- and long-term interplay between psychological, physiological and molecular processes through which bullying may get into the mind and under the skin.

Both PhD students will work as part of a team (involving also a postdoc, student assistants and the PI) to setup a large-scale, school-based, longitudinal project, including the collection of intensive longitudinal data (experience sampling data) and biological markers. The first PhD student will be in charge of the development of the experience sampling study, and s/he will be responsible for various aspects of this data collection and the statistical analysis of these data. The second PhD student will focus more on the biological components of the project, including the assessment of physiological processes (e.g., cortisol, electrodermal activity) and the collection of blood spots to assay gene expression. This PhD student will also collaborate with other researchers to set up a follow-up data collection aimed at assessing gene expression profiles among twins using a large twin register.

Both PhD appointments are for 4 years (upon satisfactory performance; yearly evaluation) and will start on September 1st 2020, at the earliest. Teleworking is possible and the modalities of teleworking will be agreed upon with the supervisor, in line with Ghent university guidelines. The PhD students will have the opportunity to attend international conferences and to spend a research stay abroad in other research labs. Remuneration will be determined according to salary scale AAP3 (net salary starts at approximately € 2000 per month; more information about our salary scales). All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 38 days of paid leave, bicycle commuting reimbursement, ecocheques, etc. A complete overview of all our fringe benefits (in Dutch).

Profile of the candidate

For both PhD projects, we are looking for highly motivated, inquisitive and enthusiastic candidates with an appropriate degree (preferably a research master) in Psychology or a related discipline. The degree requirements must be fulfilled at the start of the job appointment; thus, students in their last year can also apply, even if they did not obtain their diploma yet. For both positions, some prior research experience (e.g., involvement in data collection) is expected and evidence of excellent research and communication skills as well as proficiency in both English and Dutch (oral and written) are required. Finally, we look for candidates who are highly passionate about research, strongly interested in the research topic, well organized, who like to work in a team, and possess excellent cooperative skills.

Specific attributes for each of the two positions are also strongly desirable. For the first PhD position, experience with collecting intensive longitudinal data (e.g., daily diary data, experience sampling data) and knowledge about analysing this type of data, or other complex nested data (e.g., multilevel data), is desirable (however, note that eagerness and an excellent predisposition to learn how to work with these data is a basic requirement). For the second PhD position, prior knowledge about biological processes (psychophysiology, psychoneuroimmunology) and prior experience with collecting biological data, such as physiological data (e.g., cortisol, ECG, EDA) is desirable (however, note that eagerness and an excellent predisposition to learn and work with biological data is a basic requirement).

How to apply

Applications must be submitted in English and should include in a single PDF file:

  •  A detailed CV, including an overview of study results (grades)
  •  A motivation letter (maximum two pages, double-spaced, font 12), specifying to which of the two positions the application intends to apply and why
  •  Contact information of (at least) two (academic) referees

Applications should be sent via email directly to Matteo Giletta (), with email subject “PhD position ERC-2019-STG- 853517”, by July 7th 2020 (23:59 Amsterdam Time). After an initial screening, interviews will take place in the week of July 13 (probably via Skype).

For additional information about this vacancy, please contact Matteo Giletta ().