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PhD candidate 'Nightly dance – Dynamics of mother, father, and baby night interactions and sleep'

5 years


The birth of a child is a period of adaptation for parents that mostly entails sleep disruptions. This, together with other challenges of parenting, can lead to mental and physical health problems. Indeed, around 10-25% of fathers and mothers suffer from postnatal depression. We know little about how parents take care of the baby together at night, on a moment-to-moment basis, and if their behavior is related to their own health and to how the baby develops. Will you help us unravel this important question?

In this project we will follow couples from pregnancy until the baby is six months, using small (wearable) devices that automatically register nightly baby crying, parent-baby proximity, and parents’ sleep and stress.

The Radboud University Medical Center (Radboudumc) is looking for a PhD student within the project Nightly dance – Dynamics of mother, father, and baby night interactions and sleep. This 5-year project (0.8 fte, 4 days/week) is financed by ZonMw and focused on the transition to parenthood. Innovative sophisticated analyses will tell us how night caregiving behavior looks like, how it changes over time, and whether it predicts health problems. This important knowledge will help us design better advice and prevention programs for new parents.

The project is a collaboration between Radboudumc, Radboud University, and University of Twente. The team consists of senior researchers, a postdoc and two PhD students, as well as advisors from perinatal practice and parents. As a PhD you will be part of the Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behaviour and the Baby & Child Research Center.

We offer a challenging position in an innovative project within a team of dedicated colleagues. Our collaboration is characterized by creativity, collegiality, teamwork, and responsibility. You will be part of a dynamic, enthusiastic, collaborative, and ambitious research group specialized in early life, the developmental psychobiology lab.


Our ideal candidate has a master's diploma in Psychology, Pedagogics, Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, or similar study and excellent analytical and communicative skills. You have strong affinity with the perinatal period and working with young parents. For this PhD project you must be fluent in Dutch and English, both written and spoken.

Furthermore, you recognize yourself in the profile below:
  • Excellent organizational skills and is highly precise in communication and data management
  • A proactive attitude and is eager to learn and develop academic skills.
  • Affinity with technology and data analysis.
  • Independent working style.
  • A collaborative spirit and flourishes within team science.


For this position you will work at the Department Cognitive Neuroscience of Radboud university medical center (Radboudumc). At the department of Cognitive Neuroscience it is our goal to have a significant impact on health, prevention, and innovation of care. Together with our 150 colleagues at the department, we aim to achieve this through research increasing our understanding of the development, function, and plasticity of the brain as well as through teaching the next generation of professionals on these topics. With our multidisciplinary team, we focus on neurodevelopmental and stress-related processes in brain health and disease, integrating research from molecule to man and population.

Welcome to Radboud university medical center (Radboudumc), where scientific breakthroughs are born through the curiosity and passion of our collaborating researchers in a vibrant environment. We believe trust and excitement are crucial elements to achieving our goals, and we approach our research as teams and with the utmost rigor to make a significant impact on health and healthcare. Our researchers are driven by their fascination with the biological, psychological, and sociological mechanisms underlying health and healthcare. They collaborate with partners from all over the world to improve health outcomes for all. Radboudumc unites patient care, research, education, and corporate learning, which allows us to approach our mission to shape the health and healthcare of the future in an innovative and person-centered way.

Our ambition is to lead the way in the pursuit of prevention, sustainability and meaningful care. We believe that through our research, we can significantly improve the health and well-being of society. Join us on our mission to make a difference in healthcare. Become a part of our community of gifted researchers, professionals or patient partners who are dedicated to making a real impact on population health and healthcare. 

Read what it is like to do a PhD at the Radboud University Medical Center.


The start date for this position is September 2024. At Radboud university medical center, you build on your future. We are committed to providing the best care, education, and research. And we are true to our word, because we help you develop and seize opportunities and give you the room to grow. As an employer, we believe that employees should feel vital and happy at work in all stages of life. We are also committed to creating a healthy and safe working environment. Our employment conditions contribute to that. What we offer: 
  • The salary depends on education. Scale 10 will be offered to MSc medical graduates; a gross monthly salary between € 3.493 and € 5.504. Those holding degrees in other disciplines will be offered scale 10A: upon commencement of employment, you will start at scale 10A, step 0 (€ 3.017 based on a full-time appointment). Over a maximum period of 4 years, you will progress to scale 10A, step 3 (€3.824 based on a full-time appointment).You will also receive an 8% vacation allowance, an 8.3% end-of-year bonus, and, depending on the position, an allowance of 47% to 72% for working irregular hours.
  • Plenty of opportunities to develop yourself. For example, you can follow various courses via our online learning environment. A lot of attention will also be paid to your wellbeing and vitality. For instance, you can take advantage of:
    • 40% discount on gym membership at the Radboud Sports Center.
    • the Company Support Team and a personal coach if you experience a life-changing event.
    • a financially favorable option to work less through a generation scheme if you are approaching state retirement age.
    • support with achieving a good work-life balance at every stage of your life. This includes advice and training (from ‘Millennial Dilemmas’ to ‘Your Career After 57’), activities at our own mindfulness center, and informal caregiving consultations if you have any questions about combining your work and caregiving tasks at home.
  • 168 vacation hours per year based on a 36-hour working week. Want more vacation? You can buy additional vacation hours with your end-of-year bonus.
  • 26 weeks of parental leave, of which 9 weeks are paid.
  • Extra-favorable leave conditions. For example, our short-term caregiving leave is not 2 but 4 weeks per year and even 12 weeks per year for partner and child.
  • Pension accrual with the ABP Pension Fund. Radboud university medical center pays 70% of the pension contribution.
  • Discount on the supplementary packages of two collective health insurance policies and on ten other types of insurance, from home insurance to legal assistance.
  • travel allowance via our Employment Conditions Selection Model and a working-from-home allowance of €2,35 per day.

Opmerkingen en contactinformatie

Any questions? Or wondering what it is like to work at Radboudumc? Then email to Prof. Dr. Carolina de Weerth, full professor CNS. Use the Apply button to submit your application.