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PhD Scholarship opportunities (B045-47217)


Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Belonging to the best research universities of Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is truly an international place of knowledge.

The Young Academy Groningen, established in 2016, is an organization that brings together the most talented, enthusiastic and ambitious young researchers from diverse academic backgrounds. Their aim is to support young researchers in developing and strengthening public activities and outreach, contributing to developments in the areas of internationalization and science policy, and facilitating interdisciplinary research initiatives.

Scholarship opportunities

The Young Academy has three Interdisciplinary PhD positions available to help foster interdisciplinary collaborations amongst members. Each project is supervised by two Young Academy members and will be hosted in the Faculty of the supervisor. The scholarship covers four years and leads to a PhD degree. These four years are spent on a research training program towards completion of a PhD thesis and on participation in international conferences, workshops and a career perspectives curriculum.

Project 1
Mood disorders and cognitive disorders are major contributors to lower quality of life and increased care costs associated with aging (Ganguli et al., 2002; Lenze et al., 2005; Leibson et al., 2015). With the number of senior citizens reaching record levels, attenuating the development of the most prevalent disorders of old age is a major clinical and societal challenge. In this project we will test the hypothesis that learning a new language in older adulthood increases cognitive flexibility, which in turn mediates the vulnerability to develop cognitive or psychiatric disorders associated with old age. Before applying, please contact the project’s intended supervisors, Dr Marie-José van Tol (Faculty Medical Sciences) ( and/or Dr Merel Keijzer (Faculty of Arts) ( for more information.

Project 2
For decades, summaries of court judgments were published in written journals, which were not easily accessible for the public. Nowadays, courts publish their judgments online. For example, through (NL) or through (ECHR). The goal of this project is to automatically identify (linguistic) patterns in this type of legal big data and use these to predict the outcome of the judgments. Before applying, please contact Martijn Wieling (Faculty of Arts) ( and Michel Vols (Faculty of Law) ( for more information.

Project 3
Metastasized melanoma cancer has an historically poor survival rate. Despite impressive recent advances due to the introduction of immunotherapy, most patients with metastatic melanoma still die of their disease. Recent research suggests that altered metabolism in the cancer cells is associated with poor patient survival. The goal of this interdisciplinary PhD project is to combine bioinformatics, medical oncology and organic chemistry to understand and perturb cancer metabolism in order to eventually improve treatment strategies. Interested candidates are advised to contact and Dr Marthe Walvoort (Faculty of Science and Engineering) (, Dr Rudolf Fehrmann (Faculty of Medical Sciences) (, and Dr Hilde Jalving ( (non-Young Academy member) directly for more information.

Project 4
Alternatively, students may submit another project at the intersection of the expertise of two members of the Young Academy Groningen. Students considering this are strongly advised to consult prospective supervisors before applying. Contact data of Young Academy members can be found at


Qualifications of the PhD candidate are outlined for each project:

Project 1
The candidate should be familiar with (f)MRI procedures, ideally knows the theorizing on old-age mood and cognitive disorders, and has preferably had previous linguistic training as well. Having done a course on bilingualism and/or second language acquisition is considered an asset, as well as having shown an interest in either neuropsychology or clinical psychology. A thorough statistical basis is needed for successful completion of the project. The ideal candidate has completed a research master and does not shy away from taking on a highly interdisciplinary project such as this one and with that also read up on and/or take courses in areas of which he or she does not yet have a solid background knowledge. Also, some flexibility in working in different labs and interacting with many people is welcomed. Finally, the candidate is a fluent Dutch speaker, which is necessary to recruit and contact older individuals for study participation and setting up the language training, cognitive training, and performing the psychiatric assessments.

Project 2
The ideal PhD candidate should have an interest in the law and adequate technical (i.e. programming) and quantitative skills. Being able to write computer code and running quantitative analyses will be essential for the success of this project. The skill level in programming and/or quantitative analysis may be improved by following courses in the first year of the PhD, but a hard requirement is that the candidate does have some initial skill in these areas and feels confident in improving these skills to the level needed to successfully finish this type of project. Having a formal background in law is not essential, but in that case the candidate will be required to follow one or more introductory law courses during the first year of the PhD. Of course, an interest in legal issues will be necessary to make the project a success. Candidates who are especially invited to apply include students in computer science, computational linguistics, or artificial intelligence with an interest in the computational linguistic analysis of legal texts, or students of law with a (basic) demonstrable skill in programming and quantitative analysis.

Project 3
The prospective candidate must have completed an MSc degree in the life sciences (chemistry, biology, physics, pharmacy, medicine, or a related field). He/She must have a proven understanding of biological processes in the human body, and be able to understand them at a molecular level. Also, the candidate should have a strong background in chemistry, either through additional courses or research internships. The candidate should have or be willing to develop a basic understanding of the clinical side of the problem and acquire or extend knowledge concerning bioinformatics. The prospective candidate should be highly independent. He/She should be able to take the initiative in establishing this interdisciplinary project, and keep all parties involved and updated throughout the project. He/She should be fluent in English, both in speaking and writing.

Project 4
The ideal candidate is ambitious, highly motivated and wishes to make a career in research. He or she has a thorough training in research skills, speaks and writes English fluently, and has considerable experience in the project area being proposed (ideally at Masters level.)


The successful candidates will enrol in the UG PhD Scolarship Program and will receive a gross scholarship of EUR 2,027 gross per month of which wage tax and social security premiums will be deducted. General information on the programme can be found at

Starting date: September 2017.


How to apply
You may apply for this position until 14 May / before 15 May 2017 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Applications should include:
1. A brief letter of motivation.
2. A CV, including contact details of two academic referees.
3. A research proposal of max. 1500 words.
4. A certified transcript of records.
5. Scan of Diploma/transcripts.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

For information about each project, it is highly recommended to contact the Young Academy members stated above for each project.


For information you can contact:

(please do not use for applications)