PhD-student position: The cognitive stress response in daily life

University of Twente
October 13, 2023
Offerd Salary:€ 2.770
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Negotigation
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The experience of stress is an inherent aspect of daily-life. However, can we validly measure this in real life, and how and under what circumstances does it contribute to disease? We are looking for researchers that work on our exciting Stress-in-Action project.

Stress-in-Action project:

In this project, 65 multidisciplinary scientists from six Dutch Universities collaborate around the theme ‘stress in daily life'. Divided over three Research Themes and three Support Cores, the Stress-in-Action consortium will validate daily-life stress assessments, examine which contextual factors contribute to the experience of daily-life stress, and examine how daily-life stress leads to the development of both mental and cardiometabolic diseases. The project is funded through the Dutch Scientific Organization under the Gravitation program. More details can be found here: www.

What will you be doing?:

As a PhD-student your main mission is to provide the Stress-in-Action community with tools for the continuous (and reliable) recording of the cognitive stress responses in daily life.

You will start by reviewing the state of the art in active and passive sensing of cognitive aspects of the stress response. This review will focus on constructs underlying and relating to executive function based on both traditional tests as well as passive sensing methods. As an example, you may delve into the potential of passive sensing techniques, such as keystroke dynamics - observing how people type or interact with their smartphones - might provide insight into their cognitive state and potentially reflect varying levels of stress.

Following this foundational work, you will initiate a secondary objective providing the consortium with an up-to-date overview of the best commercially available tools for measuring behavioural stress responses, especially focusing on sleep trackers. The relationship between outcomes from these behavioural tools and the cognitive tools will be explored.

In parallel, you will also start validating the identified cognitive tools through lab and daily life studies. For instance, you could focus on comparing existing adaptations of traditional cognitive tests for smartphones, such as the Stroop test, which measures processes tapping on interference control and reaction time. By deploying such tests at different times, you will investigate how performance varies with stress levels and how passive and active sensing of the cognitive stress response varies over different tools.

You'll harness the potential of these cognitive tools to determine optimal moments for participant responses to experience sampling items or just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAIs).

By the end of the project, you will have contributed substantially to our understanding of the cognitive aspects of the stress response and provided valuable tools and methodologies for researchers in the field.

Your profile
  • MSc-degree in (bio or health) psychology, health sciences, statistics, biomedical technology, cognitive neuroscience, computer science or a related discipline (also candidates close to graduating are encouraged to apply)
  • Strong interest in cognitive function and/or stress. A drive to compare and explore different research methodologies and settings
  • Programming skills in Python, R, Matlab or other tools for data analysis
  • Affinity and preferably experience with writing research papers
  • English conversation, writing skills, and presentation skills
  • Communication and social skills related to working in interdisciplinary environments
  • Our offer
  • As a PhD student at UT, you will be appointed for 38 hours for 4 years (1.0 fte), with a qualifier in the first year, within a very stimulating and exciting scientific environment
  • You will become part of a large and active national community of 20+ PhD- students within the Stress-in-Action programme, 4 of which start within the same Research Theme at around the same time
  • Your salary and associated conditions are in accordance with the collective labour agreement for Dutch universities (CAO-NU)
  • You will receive a gross monthly salary ranging from € 2.770,- (first year) to € 3.539,- (fourth year)
  • There are excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid)
  • You will have a training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision
  • We encourage a high degree of responsibility and independence, while collaborating with close colleagues, researchers and other staff
  • Information and application

    Are you interested in this position? Please send your application via the ‘Apply now' button below before 13-10-2023 and include:

  • A motivation letter
  • A detailed cv
  • Names of 2 people that we can contact for additional information
  • For more information regarding this position, you are welcome to contact Prof. Matthijs Noordzij, [email protected].

    About the department

    The section PHT has a focus on the development and evaluation of engaging personalized and adaptive interventions. We have a strong culture of interdisciplinary research within the Health and Institutional Behaviour department to contribute to BMS Faculty themes like health and resilience. We also connect with technological groups like Industrial Design, Human-Media Interaction and Biomedical Signals and Systems in university-wide collaborations such as the TechMed Centre and the Design Lab

    About the organisation

    The Faculty of Behavioral, Management and Social sciences (BMS) aims to play a key role in understanding, jointly developing and evaluating innovations in society. Technological developments are the engine of innovation. As a technical university that puts people first, we tailor them to human needs and behavior and use social engineering to integrate them into society. We also ensure adequate governance at public and private level, and robust, inclusive and fair organizational structures. We do this by developing, sharing and applying high-quality knowledge in Psychology, Business Administration, Public Administration, Communication Sciences, Philosophy, Educational Sciences and Health Sciences. Our research and education in these disciplines revolves around tackling and solving societal challenges. The research programs of BMS are closely linked to the research of the UT institutes Mesa+ Institute for Nanotechnology, TechMed Center and Digital Society Institute.

    As an employer, the Faculty of BMS offers work that matters. We equip you to create new possibilities for yourself and for our society. With us, you will become part of a leading technical university with increasing, positive social impact. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial atmosphere, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example through our flexible, adaptable benefits.

    Want to know more? Noordzij, M.L. (Matthijs)

    Full Professor

    Noordzij, M.L. (Matthijs)

    Full Professor

    Do you have questions about this vacancy? Then you can contact Matthijs for all substantive questions about this position and the application procedure. For general questions about working for the UT, please refer to the chatbot.



    Email:[email protected]

    How to apply Step 1

    Apply. When you see a vacancy that appeals to you, you can apply online. We ask you to upload a CV and motivation letter and/or list of publications. You will receive a confirmation of receipt by e-mail.

    Step 2

    Selection. The selection committee will review your application and you will receive a response within 2 weeks after the vacancy has been closed.

    Step 3

    1st interview. The 1st (online or in person) meeting serves as an introduction where we introduce ourselves to you and you to us. You may be asked to give a short presentation. This will be further explained in the invitation.

    Step 4

    2nd interview. In the second interview, we will further discuss the job content, your skills and your talents.

    Step 5

    The offer. If the conversations are positive, you will be made a suitable offer.

    Your Colleagues
  • Klooster, P.M. ten (Peter)
  • Personal page

  • Kraiss, J.T. (Jannis)
  • Personal page

  • Noordzij, M.L. (Matthijs)
  • Personal page

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  • Our university is a public institution that serves society. We are accountable to society for the ways in which we use our academic freedom. We are responsible for ensuring that the power of science and technology is harnessed to achieve the best possible impact in a changing world. We cherish our rich tradition of combining technical and social sciences in our five profiling themes: Improving healthcare by personalized technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

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