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Current vacancy: Doctoral student (“Functional ability and mobility in old age measured through wearable sensors”)

At the University of Jyväskylä, everyone can find their place in the human-centred environment of 2,500 experts and 14,500 students. Our goal is to create wisdom and wellbeing for us all. It is essential that each member of the community thrives and has opportunities to develop and grow. We cherish openness of thinking as well as the balance between research and education. Our naturally beautiful campus is located at the heart of the city of Jyväskylä. JYU is the third largest employer in Central Finland.

The Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences and The Department of Movement Sciences (KU Leuven) are currently seeking to recruit staff to a joint position of Doctoral Student, beginning as from 1 December 2019 or according to a separate agreement, for a fixed term of not more than four years.

Education and research in sport sciences in Finland are concentrated at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä. Physical activity and health, as well as their relationships and promotion, are explored there from a multidisciplinary perspective, with the improvement of health, functional ability and wellbeing across the human lifespan as the key aim.

There are two main lines of study at the Faculty: Sport Sciences and Health Sciences. There are three disciplinary groups at the Faculty: Biology of Physical Activity, Behavioral and Social Sciences of Sport and Health Sciences. There are also three research centres at the Faculty: the Neuromuscular Research Centre, the Gerontology Research Center and the Research Centre for Health Promotion.

We are looking for a Ph.D. candidate to work in the project “Functional ability and mobility in old age measured through wearable sensors” funded jointly by the University of Jyväskylä and KU Leuven. The underpinning rationale of the project is that it has been recognised that human ageing is accompanied by progressive declines in functional ability. To be able to capture those progressive declines at an early stage, human movement should be measured in free living conditions outside of a laboratory. Wearable sensors can be used to this end, but more research is necessary to determine which relevant parameters can be derived from accelerometer data, how these parameters are influenced by age and whether these are predictive of future loss of independence. The primary method used to study functional ability and human movement in this project are wearable sensors (accelerometer, inertial measurement unit) and community-dwelling older adults are the target population.

The tasks of the student are to make a research plan for acquiring PhD position in the doctoral school of Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences and the Department of Movement Sciences, focus on research concerning doctoral thesis according to this plan, complete doctoral studies and assist in other tasks related to the overall project. The student may also be given a chance to supervise Master thesis students within the research topic and will be expected to provide administrative, educational and technical support in the activities within the Department of Movement Sciences and the Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences (KU Leuven) and/or the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences (University of Jyväskylä). The position will be under the supervision of Dr Evelien Van Roie, Prof. Christophe Delecluse and Dr Timo Rantalainen. The data available for the doctoral thesis include laboratory-based functional assessments and free-living multiple day accelerometry records.

Prerequisites for the doctoral student position are a suitable Master’s degree and good command of the English language. The candidate also needs to be willing to spend long (several months) mobility periods at both institutes (that is, in Leuven and in Jyväskylä). Programming skills with Matlab, python, R or other relevant programming languages are preferred and basic knowledge of statistical techniques is required. Preferable characteristics of a candidate include; Master’s degree in Movement Sciences, Rehabilitation Sciences, Biomedical Sciences or Biomedical Engineering. Excellent academic record (e.g. with a distinction). A strong interest in the effects of ageing on functional ability and mobility. A good knowledge in some or all of the following areas: signal analysis, gerontology, biomechanics or gait analysis. Capable of independent work (e.g. time management skills) and ability to work in a team. Interest in working within an international team of researchers. Excellent oral and written communication skills in English. Knowledge of Dutch or Finnish language is a plus but not required.

The position is located at the Faculty of Sports and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and The Department of Movement Sciences (KU Leuven), Belgium. The expected duration of PhD thesis and doctoral studies is four years, but a contract is first made for one year, and the extension of that contract is dependent on an evaluation of initial progress in the studies and research.

The duties, qualification requirements and language skills of doctoral student are stipulated by the University of Jyväskylä Regulations, Rectors´s decision on personnel matters and language skills guidelines.The selected person is required to have a full command of Finnish language. According to Finnish law, a non-native university teaching and research staff member can be granted an exemption from the requirement of Finnish language proficiency.

A prerequisite for the doctoral student position is a suitable Master’s degree and the study right for doctoral studies at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä. If the applicant does not already have the right for doctoral studies, it must be applied for by a separate application from the relevant faculty, considering application times.

Your total salary for a doctoral student is around € 2,200 – 2,700 per month, depending on your skills and previous experience.

A trial period of six months will be used when the position is first filled.

The ideal starting date is December 1st 2019, but is negotiable.

To find useful information about the University of Jyväskylä, the City of Jyväskylä and living in Finland, see the University’s International Staff Guide. For KU Leuven, see here.

For further information, please contact:

Dr- Timo Rantalainen , email:; tel: +358408053252

Dr. Evelien Van Roie, email:, tel: +32 16 37 94 31

Prof. Dr. Christophe Delecluse, email:, tel.: +32 16 32 90 76

Head of Administration Heikki Herva, email:; +358504432400.


Application materials should be submitted in English.

The application should include as PDF files:

1. CV

2. Cover letter (please explain your motivation to apply),

3. Description of previous experience and skills on signal analysis/gerontology/biomechanics/gait analysis and possible experience with Matlab/Python/or other relevant programming.

4. A list of publications,

5. Names and contact details of references.

Please submit your application at the latest on 22 November 2019 using the online application form.

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