Vacancies 71161-PhD-candidate-in-Developmental-Psychology
  • 36 hours a week
  • Temporary
  • 4 years
  • Date of publication: 14 August 2019
  • Deadline: 26 September 2019
  • Scale Scale 10A: max € 43305 gross per year at full employment (incl. vacation bonus and end of year payments)
  • First interview scheduled: 3 October 2019
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Job description

You will be part of the 2018 VICI grant program ‘How gut bacteria and stress shape child development’. You will join our very dynamic and highly collaborative research group (DPBlab), a multidisciplinary group of senior and junior researchers. You will help design, preregister, and carry out the RCT study. You will contact the childcare centers and parents, train the volunteers, and collect behavioral, psychological, health, and biological data. Data collection will be in childcare centers and possibly also in the lab or home environments. You will analyse the data and report the results in scientific journals and conferences, and in a doctoral dissertation.

We are looking for a highly capable, eager, and intrinsically motivated PhD candidate. The project is embedded in our developmental psychobiology research group (DPBLab; PI: Prof.dr. Carolina de Weerth) at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in Nijmegen (the Netherlands). This position is part of a program started with a personal VICI grant awarded to de Weerth by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The grant is on children’s gut microbial colonization in relation to stress early in life and later brain functioning, behavior, and cognition. The colonization of the gut by microbes is of interest because it is assumed to play an essential role in children’s physical, behavioral, and cognitive development.

The aim of this PhD project is to examine whether a naturalistic stress-reducing intervention program based on caregiver-infant contact can positively affect infant gut microbial colonization and infant behavioral and cognitive development. In a RCT, caregiver-infant contact in 3-month-old infants starting center-based childcare will be increased in the intervention group during the hours spent in childcare. Trained volunteers will provide this extra caregiver-infant contact.

The idea behind this study is that by means of extra physical contact and high quality one-to-one interaction, young infants’ stress levels upon entry to childcare will be reduced. Heightened stress hormones in the period of adaption to childcare were found in an earlier study of our group (Albers et al., 2016) and may be due to reduced ono-to-one attention, maternal separation, changing caregivers, etc. This study will hence start to uncover causal relations between the infant's stress while adapting to childcare and the quality of the early microbial colonization and the infant’s development. Additionally, it will potentially provide a simple, yet efficient, stress-reducing intervention that may also have positive effects on infant physical and psychological health. An additional focus of interest in this study is on how the intervention affects mood and well-being of the infants’ parents, the professional childcare caregivers, and the volunteers providing the contact.

Profile

  • Master degree in psychology (e.g., developmental psychology, developmental psychopathology, clinical psychology) or related discipline.
  • Research Master degree is an advantage.
  • A profound interest in fundamental and developmental psychobiological research.
  • Advanced statistical skills and experience in scientific writing, or at least a keen interest and motivation to acquire such skills.
  • Expertise in relevant computer packages (e.g. SPSS, R, Castor, etc.).
  • (Research) expertise in testing infants/children, and in longitudinal studies, is an advantage.
  • Good organizational skills; data-management skills are an advantage.
  • Advanced proficiency in spoken and written English (please write your application in English).
  • Good command of the Dutch language (mandatory requirement).
  • Good social and communication skills.
  • A collaborative nature, pleasure in team work.
  • An energetic and productive attitude; eager to work hard.
  • Flexibility, independence, perseverance, and resilience to stress.
Candidates who only partially meet this profile are nonetheless strongly encouraged to apply.

Organization

The project is embedded in the unique and excellent infrastructure of the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. The Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging offers three 3 Tesla MRI systems, MR-compatible systems for recording EEG and peripheral psychophysiological measures, a 275-channel MEG system, an EEG-TMS laboratory, and state-of-the-art computational facilities. The Ernst Hahn Institute in Essen (Germany), a partner of the Donders Institute, provides access to a 7 Tesla system. All facilities are fully research-dedicated laboratories with excellent technical support. The Donders Institute furthermore provides a unique and stimulating learning environment for young researchers, including a high-profile graduate school and in-house methodological expert courses.

Research into stress and stress-related disorders is an important focus area at Radboud university medical center. Researchers working on this theme jointly organize regular discussion meetings and lectures to promote integration of research conducted within molecular, cellular, systems, behavioral, and clinical neurosciences across campus.

Radboudumc
Radboudumc strives to be a leading developer of sustainable, innovative and affordable healthcare to improve the health and wellbeing of people and society in the Netherlands and beyond. This is the core of our mission: To have a significant impact on healthcare. To get a better picture of what this entails, check out our strategy.

Read more about what it means to work at Radboudumc and how you can do your part.

Employment conditions

  • Employment will be for 4 years.
  • Salary will be in accordance with the relevant national labor agreement (Cao Umc) and based on research experience and qualifications.
  • Planned start date for this position is before the end of 2019.
  • Upon commencement of employment we require a certificate of conduct (Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag, VOG) and there will be, depending on the type of job, a screening based on the provided cv. Radboud university medical center’s HR Department will apply for this certificate on your behalf.
  • Read more about the Radboudumc employment conditions and what our International Office can do for you when moving to the Netherlands.

Comments and contact information

Application
We request applicants to send a motivation letter explaining their interest and qualifications regarding the position, their prior research/work experience, a CV, an official grade list from their university studies, and contact information of two professional references. The deadline for application is September 25, 2019, 23:59 CET.

Selected applicants will be invited to an interview that will take place on 3 October. The best candidates from the first round will be invited to a second interview on 10 October. The interviews are in person, but if a candidate is abroad the interview can take place through Skype. The second selection round will also include assessment components.

Information
All additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from Prof.dr. Carolina de Weerth, full professor via  +31 (24) 366 50 59. Use the Apply button to submit your application.

Please apply before 26 September.
Recruitment agencies are asked not to respond to this job posting.

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