The experience of stress is an inherent aspect of daily-life. However, can we validly measure this, 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.

PhD-student position Physiological stress in daily life
38 hours

The department of Biological Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit has a vacancy for a PhD-student within the ambitious Stress in Action project.

Stress in Action project
In this project, 25 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, we 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.

What will you be doing?
As the PhD-student your main mission is to provide the Stress in Action community with tools for the continuous (and reliable) recording of the physiological stress response in daily life. You will start out by reviewing the state of the art in the research/consumer wearables that can record psychophysiological reactivity in natural settings through skin patches, stretch band electrodes, or sensors engrained in clothing. You will rank-order them in suitability building on the extensive experience with the development and validation testing of physiological wearables in our Vrije Universiteit and Twente Universiteit teams. This will prepare you to select the most promising wearables for extensive experimental validation in controlled lab settings as well as during real life ambulatory recording. For the latter you employ well-validated wearables like MoviSense, Spacelabs, and the VU-AMS that measure the heart period time series, blood pressure, the pre-ejection period, electrodermal activity, and peak-valley based respiratory sinus arrhythmia as measures of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity. You will also test out new solutions coming online during the lifecycle of the project, including new tools to assess blood pressure regulation or characterise the activity of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenocortical axis and how it affects immune and cardiovascular functioning.

Where will you be working?
At the department Biological Psychology of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam we conduct research and education on the causes of individual differences in health behaviours and disease outcomes. It is a department with a long tradition in stress research where enthusiastic and ambitious academics work on generating knowledge and translating this to improvements in health and wellbeing. Our research on the role of genetic and environmental factors – including stress- belongs to the international top. For the Stress in Action project, there is a close connection with researchers from University Twente, Erasmus Medical Center, Amsterdam UMC, the University of Groningen and its UMC Groningen, and Utrecht University.

Requested profile:

  • MSc-degree (research master) in (bio)psychology, health sciences, biomedical technology, medical physics, computer science or a related discipline (also candidates close to graduating are encouraged to apply)
  • Strong interest in experimental (psycho)physiological research and/or advanced signal analytics
  • Knowledge of predictive modelling using multilevel models or machine learning approaches
  • Programming skills in Python, R, Matlab or other tools for physiological signal analysis
  • Affinity and preferably experience with writing research papers
  • English conversation, writing skills, and presentation skills
  • Communication and social skills

What will we offer?
You will start with a contract for one year (12 months) in accordance with the CAO VSNU 2022-2023, with the intention of extension for another three years (36 months).

  • Salary range is 2.541 – 3.247 euro Gross in full-time employment. The monthly wage will increase yearly.
  • In addition to a good basic salary, you will receive, among other things, 8.3% year-end bonus and 8% vacation allowance.
  • Pension accrual with ABP, of which we pay 70% of the premium.
  • Market-conform reimbursement of a large part of your public transport costs. Good public transport options. Would you rather travel by bike? Then we have a good bicycle scheme.
  • You will become part of a large and active national community of over 20+ PhD students and postdocs who will work on the Stress-in-Action project at different institutions.

For more information about these vacancies, you can contact Professor Eco de Geus – You can send your response by email to ms Natascha Stroo, departmental manager Biological Psychology,, referencing the job application number and adding a motivation letter and your CV as enclosures.

Or use:

Responses are considered until close-of-business on 15 January 2023.