Utrecht University: PhD position Growing Up Together in Society (GUTS) – Individual development: from genes, through imaging to societal contributions (1.0 FTE)


At the department of Experimental Psychology at Utrecht University we are looking for a highly motivated candidate interested in the PhD project ”Individual brain development and self-regulation”, with the aim to identify interindividual differences in brain development, that are associated with self-regulation and with societal outcome, and the influences of genes and environment on this development. The project will run for 4 years (90% research, 10% teaching) and will be jointly supervised by Hilleke Hulshoff Pol and Jalmar Teeuw (Experimental Psychology).

What are you going to do?
You will identify interindividual differences in brain measures that are associated with self-regulation and with societal outcome, and study genetic and environmental influences on this development. You will do this together with our team at Utrecht University and with other Growing Up Together in Society (GUTS) partners. Brain development is based on longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans, providing quantitative measures of changes over time in anatomy of gray and white matter of the brain, of brain connectivity, and of brain activity during resting and during cognitive tasks. This data, together with the genetic and environmental data is present in existing cohorts. For your studies you will be exploring these rich resources using quantitative methods.

Your PhD project is part of the larger consortium GUTS where seven Dutch universities collaborate to find answers to the question of how young people grow up successfully. What are the skills that young people need to develop? And what can parents, peers and society do to create optimal opportunities? While the GUTS project is a longitudinal project which will span 10 years, we are currently looking for PhD students willing to take on the opportunity to be involved during the starting years of the project.

You will become skilled in developing hypotheses and analyzing large scale data, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and presenting your work at conferences. The position allows you to obtain an academic qualification (PhD). In addition, the GUTS project offers opportunities to develop yourself in terms of interdisciplinary research, societal impact, outreach, and open science.

Your work will also include 10% teaching tasks, such as the supervision of bachelor’s and master’s theses and seminars for courses related to social, health, organizational, and experimental psychology. Of course, you will be guided and supported by your supervisor and colleagues.

For more information, please read the article. Research into brain development in young people: figuring out how young people can grow up even better.

We are happy with you as a new employee and are happy to give you a warm welcome. That is why we organize a good introduction for our new colleagues where we introduce you to and show you around our faculty and University.


We are looking for an enthusiastic and collaborative team member who meets the following requirements:

  • (Research) Master’s degree in the field of social psychology, experimental psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, or equivalent programme;
  • Strong interest and motivation to conduct interdisciplinary research at the intersection of social and cognitive psychological research, brain imaging and genetics;
  • Strong affinity for and experience with programming (i.e., R, Matlab, or Python);
  • Excellent knowledge of quantitative research and statistics and a high motivation to learn new methods;
  • Affinity with and good communication abilities to work in a multidisciplinary research team;
  • High proficiency in written and spoken externe link English;
  • Interest and motivation to contribute to the teaching activities of the faculty.


You will be offered a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for one year with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary ranges between €2,541 in the first year and  €3,247 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.

We encourage you to grow and support work-life balance that’s why Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University 

Over de organisatie

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in cultural anthropology, educational sciences, interdisciplinary social science, pedagogical sciences, psychology, and sociology. Almost 7,000 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has some 1.100 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues. 

The faculty strives for diversity among its employees and students and is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, as can be read in Utrecht University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.

The faculty attaches great importance to the fact that its employees can be widely deployed in the university organization, now and in the future, to further professionalize the support of education and research. To encourage this, every employee is given the time and facilities – for example in the form of training – at some point in their career to participate in projects or work in other departments. Characteristics that the faculty considers important are involvement, the ability to collaborate and flexibility.

The faculty is located at Utrecht Science Park near the historical city centre of Utrecht.

Aanvullende informatie

For additional information, please contact Prof. Hilleke Hulshoff Pol (Full Professor) at h.e.hulshoffpol@uu.nl 

Please note that international candidates that need a visa/work permit for the Netherlands require at least four months processing time after selection and acceptance. Our International Service Desk (ISD) can answer your questions about living in the Netherlands as international staff. Finding appropriate housing in or near Utrecht is your own responsibility, but the ISD may be able to advise you therewith. In case of general questions about working and living in The Netherlands, please consult the Dutch Mobility Portal. externe link


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Utrecht University wants to make a visible contribution to an inclusive university community, to a just society, and equal rights and equal opportunities for all.

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation, via the Utrecht University website. No applications will be processed on the email address.

Interviews will take place in June. 

Uiterlijk reageren op 30 april 2023.