Uppsala University, Department of Psychology

Fully funded PhD student position: Developmental psychopathology (autism research).

Applications are welcome for a 4-year PhD position at Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. Uppsala university is highly ranked internationally, and is the oldest university in the Nordic countries. Uppsala is located just 30 minutes north of Stockholm and has a population of 200,000 (40,000 students).

Duties/Project description: The PhD student position is embedded in the SAPIENS consortium, a European Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network, in which 15 PhD students investigate how the dynamics of early social interactions support the development of the social brain. SAPIENS combines advances in ecological, mobile real-time brain and behaviour measurement, data modeling and artificial intelligence to study early social development and to train a new generation of researchers in these ground-breaking approaches.  The other nodes in the network are well-reputed research institutes located in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and Italy.

The PhD student will be working at the Uppsala Child and Babylab at the Department of Psychology (www.babylab.se), with Dr Terje Falck-Ytter (https://katalog.uu.se/profile/?id=N5-1496) as the main supervisor. The Uppsala Child and Babylab is a highly ranked infant research laboratory devoted to the study of sensory-motor, cognitive, and social development in both typically and atypically developing infants. We employ novel research methods and make use of both experimental and longitudinal designs to examine group-level development and individual differences. While based at Uppsala University, several research visits are planned to collaborators at other research sites within the SAPIENS network.

This particular PhD student project will be based on existing large datasets of infants at risk for autism (Early Autism Sweden; EASE). EASE is a part of the world-leading autism consortium AIMS-2-TRIALS (www.aims-2-trials.eu) and the EUROSIBS network (www.eurosibs.eu), and is very well connected internationally. The student will be analyzing this rich dataset to increase our understanding of early development in children with autism. More specifically, the PhD student will analyze data from live eye tracking studies of social interaction (e.g. between infant and experiment leader or between infant and parent; see example below). In addition, several other possibilities for analyses are available; we try to take the particular strengths and interests of the PhD candidate into account when formulating the individual study plan. The EASE study includes behavioral data (e.g. eye tracking, motion tracking, pupillometry) and brain imaging (MRI) and electrophysiological data (EEG). Recent examples of publications from the EASE study:

  • Nyström, P., Gliga, T., Nilsson Jobs, E., Gredebäck, G., Charman, T., Johnson, M., Bölte, S., and Falck-Ytter, T., Enhanced pupillary light reflex in infancy is associated with autism diagnosis in toddlerhood. Nature Communications, 2018. 9(1).
  • Nystrom, P., Thorup, E., Bölte, S., and Falck-Ytter, T., Joint attention in infancy and the emergence of autism. Biological Psychiatry, in press.


Marie Sklodowska-Curie PhD positions offer a highly competitive salary from an international perspective. Uppsala university (and Sweden in general) offers many opportunities for building an independent line of research. These include world-renowned training courses and many grant opportunities tailored for junior researchers. The supervisory team will be supportive and keen to maximize opportunities for the potholder’s career development.

The intended start date is September/October 2019.


Candidates should have completed 4 years of university-level studies, of which at least 1.5 years should be within psychology (if it is unclear whether these formal requirements are fulfilled one should argue why ones training should be considered equivalent). Demonstrable experience with different quantitative data analysis and statistical approaches relevant for the project is highly desirable (e.g. time series analysis, mixed linear models, general computer programming skills). As the project focuses on analysis of longitudinal, multilevel data, you should enjoy working with quantitative data and be able to learn new analytical/statistical techniques quickly. Due to the international and interdisciplinary nature of the research group, good collaborative and communication skills are essential. Excellent English writing skills are a requirement.

In addition, the following applies (Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN requirements):

  1. Mobility Rule: candidate must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country where the position is based for more than 12 months in the last 3 years (short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account).
  2. Early Stage Researcher: the candidate is in the first four years* of his/her research career and has not been awarded a doctoral degree.

* measured from the date when the candidate obtained the degree which would formally entitle him/her to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the candidate is recruited, irrespective of whether or not a doctorate is or was ever envisaged

An employment application must contain the following documents in English:

  • Application for admission to postgraduate studies http://uadm.uu.se/digitalAssets/81/a_81624-f_ansokan_forskarniva_eng.pdf 
  • A letter describing why you are interested in and suitable for the position, with explicit reference to the criteria stated above (no more than one page)
  • Attested degree certificate/s that confirms eligibility Record of completed courses included in your degree/s Master thesis in psychology or equivalent Research proposal, maximum 5 pages (see: http://psyk.uu.se/admissions/phd-studies/application; it is strongly recommended that applicants contact PI Terje Falck-Ytter before starting to write the proposal).
  • Contact information to academic references are desirable
  • Verifications for crediting of illness, military service, work for labour unions or student organisations, parental leave or similar circumstances

Rules governing PhD students are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5, §§ 1-7 and in Uppsala University's rules and guidelines http://regler.uu.se/?languageId=1.

Uppsala University strives to be an inclusive workplace that promotes equal opportunities and attracts qualified candidates who can contribute to the University’s excellence and diversity. We welcome applications from all sections of the community and from people of all backgrounds.

Salary: Year 1-3 it is a fixed salary based on Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks budget. Year 4 it is based on Uppsala universities local agreement for PhD students.  

Starting date: September/October 2019 or as otherwise agreed.

Type of employment: Temporary position.

Scope of employment: 100 %

For further information about the position please contact: Associate Professor Terje Falck-Ytter, terje.falck-ytter@psyk.uu.se.

Please submit your application by 29 July, 2019. UFV-PA 2019/2029.

Are you considering moving to Sweden to work at Uppsala University? If so, you will find a lot of information about working and living in Sweden at www.uu.se/joinus. You are also welcome to contact International Faculty and Staff Services at ifss@uadm.uu.se.

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
Salary Fixed salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100 %
City Uppsala
County Uppsala län
Country Sweden
Reference number UFV-PA 2019/2029
Published 20.Jun.2019
Last application date 29.Jul.2019 11:59 PM CEST

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