04 Fully Funded PhD in Psychology at KU Leuven, Belgium

Are you holding Master’s degree and looking for PhD positions – Fully Funded PhD Programs in Europe? KU Leuven, Belgium inviting application for funded PhD Programs or fully funded PhD Scholarship. KU Leuven is one of the largest university in the world with thousands of employees, students, and research scientists are involved in the innovation of science and technology daily.

KU Leuven has huge a campus in Belgium and widely known as for its contribution in top notch education and research. The contribution of KU Leuven is not only limited to natural sciences and engineering but it also offers high quality research as well as higher education in bio-medical sciences, social sciences, humanities, psychology, education, architecture etc.

1. PhD in Psychology: 3 PhD positions “Visual factors underlying aesthetic image preferences”

Summary of PhD in Psychology Project:

Three full-time PhD positions are available to work on the GRAPPA project, funded by an ERC Advanced Grant, recently awarded to Johan Wagemans. The GRAPPA project (acronym for “Gestalts Relate Aesthetic Preferences to Perceptual Analysis”) aims to develop and test a model to predict, explain and understand aesthetic preferences for natural images and pictures of artworks on the basis of mid-level vision factors.

The central working hypothesis is that these factors (e.g., figure-ground segmentation, symmetry, composition, colour harmony, perceptual ambiguity) provide a bridge between supposedly universal principles of low-level perceptual analysis based on image statistics and high-level style and content preferences that may vary between different cultural groups and individuals (“the eye of the beholder”).

The GRAPPA project will combine large-scale online testing of aesthetic preferences for images and psychophysical experiments on specific perceptual organization principles with gradually more sophisticated modelling based on machine learning and computer vision.

The validation stage will go beyond mere preference and beyond images to include more general measures of aesthetic appreciation, mobile eye-tracking studies in museums, and collaborations with contemporary artists.

PhD in Psychology Project:

The three PhD students we are recruiting now will work on the following topics, with specific interests and skills:

PhD1 with background in psychology for the theoretical and experimental work on factors of perceptual organization determining aesthetic appreciation;

PhD2 with background in image processing or computer vision for the automatic computation of factors of perceptual organization in real images;

PhD3 with background in machine learning or neural networks for the development, training and use of DNNs.

For PhD positions 2 and 3, co-supervisors in computer vision and/or machine learning are possible in Leuven or Nijmegen.

PhD in Psychology Eligibility:

Eligible candidates have relevant Master degrees with some research experience obtained through their Master thesis and/or research internship. All candidates are expected to be keen on conducting interdisciplinary research, with a creative mind, good problem solving skills, and a collaborative, open-minded, and collegial attitude.

Offer:

We currently have funding for four years for each of these positions, starting with a one-year contract. We have a good track record helping PhD students to obtain their own PhD fellowships afterwards, allowing them to extend their stay and broaden the range of research questions.

The net amount of the salary will be competitive and in accordance with the university fellowship scales for PhD students. The position is mainly for research, with 120 hours of teaching support per year in a course related to their background or interests.

KU Leuven is one of the best European universities according to international rankings (#41 world-wide in the 2021 THE ranking). Our research group belongs to the department of Brain & Cognition, located in the centre of Leuven, a vibrant university town which is only a 25-minute commute from the centre of Brussels and its international airport.

Last Application Date: September 25, 2022

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2. PhD in Psychology

Summary of PhD in Psychology Project:

This current study is situated within the center of Mind-Body research, at the Department of Psychiatry, KU Leuven, Belgium. The general aim of the group is to study the influence of acute and chronic stress on brain, body and behavior in healthy individuals and in individuals with psychiatric disorders.

Specifically, this project is a collaboration between the center of Mind-Body research and the Department of Public Health Psychiatry (DPHP) at KU Leuven. The Center studies (longitudinal) patterns of mental illness and emotional wellbeing in societies worldwide, using large epidemiological population-representative samples and complex statistical modelling.

The DPHP contributes to the etiopathogenesis and structure of common mental disorders and low-prevalent conditions (such as suicidal thoughts and behaviors) by studying temporal patterns of prevalence, incidence, and persistence of disorders and conditions.

PhD in Psychology Project:

The perinatal period (defined as pregnancy and the first postnatal year) is aperiod of important changes and great adjustments for all parents. High intensepositive affect go hand in hand with difficult negative emotions making early parenthood a period of important changes, great adjustment and consequently vulnerability to emotional problems.

Up to 20% of (expectant) mothers report perinatal maternal mental health problems (PMH). Perinatal depression (PD) and Perinatal Anxiety (PA) are one of the most common complications of pregnancy. These are debilitating conditions affecting (expectant) mothers, her (unborn) child as well as thesupporting system. Both federal & regional policies strongly aim atreducing perinatal mental health problems.

The current project is the first part of a larger two-part research study. In the first part of this project, we will conduct a longitudinal epidemiological study of PD in all (expectant) mothers referred to the outpatient clinic of the university hospital of Leuven (n=about 2,000 mothers/year).

The second part of this project focuses on the group of expectant mothers with moderate risk to develop PD. The aim of this part is to study whether early online self-help intervention that has been developed in the context of http://www.depressiehulp.be may prevent the actual onset of PD in these mothers.

To this end, we will conduct a combined superiority and non-inferiority randomized controlled trial, we will investigate whether acognitive-behaviorally-based preventative online self-help (+ usual care) is non-inferior compared to a brief 5 session FTF solution-based intervention (+usual care) and superior to usual care. Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness will be studied.

The main objective of the first part is to improve the prediction and ultimately the prevention of PD, PA and other mental health and behavioral problems among perinatal women. Important goal of the study is the development of the perinatal mental health prediction models/survey.

The study aims to contribute to the understanding of the epidemiology of PMH problems, by longitudinally studying PMH in women during perinatal period, combining descriptive and analytical epidemiological approaches. We will study PMH problems in its full clinical presentation from conception until 2 years after birth and for a full range of both risk and protective factors. There are three main objectives:

1. Development & testing of multivariate prospective models on influencing risk and protective factors on the course of PMH problems, similar to our previous research in college students (Mortier et al. 2017).

2. Development & testing of prospective models of other mental health outcomes (social, relational, professional, …).

3. Implementation of the developed module into the patient file, as a fixed value of daily practice. On a societal level, obtained data will provide straight indication about modifiable risk and protective factors that lead to/prevent the onset of PMH problems.

In doing this, this will be a way to reduce the broad societal burden of PMH problems because prevention will lead to a reduction of those mothers who will eventually develop PMH problems and therefore more treatment capacity will be available for those who need treatment, which will bring an economic benefit.

If one can ameliorate the maternal emotional wellbeing you might be able to ameliorate the motor, cognitive and behavioral outcome of the child in later life. This will result in positive effects on the level of the individual, the family as well as society as a whole.

PhD in Psychology Eligibility

We are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:

1. Master Degree in Medicine, biomedical sciences, psychology or educational sciences

2. Experience in one or more of the following areas is desirable:

· Clinical skills and patient contact.

· Dutch speaking.

· Statistical skills.

3. Skill in one or more of the following areas is a plus:

· Strong communication and social skills.

· Analytical skills and well organized.

· Interested in teamwork.

· Ability to work independent.

Offer

The successful candidate will be awarded a full-time (100%), 4 year PhD fellowship at KU Leuven and will be embedded in a multidisciplinary research group. The candidate will be involved in the development and implementation of the survey, as well as the analyze of the data collected to answer key questions on PD, PA and PMH problems.

Last Application Date: September 18, 2022

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