PhD candidates for NWO Loneliness project Disconnected: Assessing the Effects of Technology on Youth Loneliness

PhD candidates for NWO Loneliness project Disconnected: Assessing the Effects of Technology on Youth Loneliness

Published Deadline Location
2 Feb 29 Feb Delft

Job description

The departments of Cognitive Robotics and Biomechanical Engineering at the Delft University of Technology and the department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Amsterdam UMC invite applicants for three positions in the project, “Disconnected: Assessing the Effects of Technology on Youth Loneliness”.

This project has been granted funding from NWO under the Dutch Research Agenda (Nationale Wetenschapsagenda; NWA), a program that focuses on key questions that have been established with input from citizens. Our project is aimed at scientific inquiry regarding loneliness in the target group of 18–26 years olds, and is part of a wider network of projects that address loneliness in various target groups.

Our consortium, consisting of Dr. Dimitra Dodou, Yke Bauke Eisma, Joost de Winter, and Nederveen, supplemented by various partner organizations in the field of technology and society, hypothesize that ‘technology’ plays a central role in the potential causes of loneliness, because technology can possibly create a distant form of inter-human connection. At the same time, technology may also provide a solution by connecting with people in a meaningful way. Through this project, we aim to identify the deeper causes of loneliness in society, and in this way, come up with valid recommendations, and solid scientific and empirically based knowledge about loneliness. Furthermore, we actively strive to reduce stigmas about loneliness in a well-informed manner.

We are looking for three PhD candidates:

PhD candidate 1 (employed at TU Delft): You will be responsible for executing the ‘Technology and Loneliness’ work package. During your PhD, you will examine the current use of technology among young adults, and the direct (short-term) effects of existing technologies such as smartphones and new technologies like chatbots, embodied robots, and augmented reality. You will conduct research in the lab at the TU Delft, but also in collaboration with the other two work packages, investigating the direct effects on subjective experiences, and also exploring and proposing new technological solutions to mitigate loneliness.

PhD candidate 2 (employed at TU Delft): You will be responsible for executing the ‘Cognition and Technology use’ work package. You will study the medium-term effects of technology on cognition and emotion, and among others, investigate the relationship between technology, loneliness, and stigmatization. You will make use of behavioral tracking and/or diary methods, large-scale online surveys, and experimental comparisons between lonely and non-lonely people.

A third PhD candidate will be recruited at Amsterdam UMC.  This PhD student will be responsible for executing the ‘Neuroscience of Technology use’ work package. This work package aims to understand how technology use, loneliness, and covariates affect the brain, on a direct level (functional neuroimaging) and on a semi-permanent level (structural neuroimaging).

The three PhD candidates will regularly collaborate and conduct joint experiments. An important element is the input of the project partners by means of co-creation and design, and the development of appropriate strategies and recommendations to actually address loneliness. At a later stage of the project, generalizations will also be sought towards the other target groups, e.g., how technology can be used among older persons or people with mild intellectual disabilities.

The three PhD candidates will work in a challenging environment, with access to state-of-the-art lab facilities. You will participate in a multidisciplinary team with strong academic, industrial, and societal partnerships, and you will benefit from a collaborative research context.      



Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


Applicants should have the following qualifications:

  • MSc degree in engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive science, medical physics, or neuroscience, with a profound interest or specialization in human-technology interaction or human behavior.

  • Embracement of open science principles and modern communication tools.

  • Willingness to present at scientific events, willingness to engage with and travel to project partners, for joint research activities.

  • Proficiency in the Dutch language is a plus.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 year.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

From chip to ship. From machine to human being. From idea to solution. Driven by a deep-rooted desire to understand our environment and discover its underlying mechanisms, research and education at the 3mE faculty focusses on fundamental understanding, design, production including application and product improvement, materials, processes and (mechanical) systems.

3mE is a dynamic and innovative faculty with high-tech lab facilities and international reach. It’s a large faculty but also versatile, so we can often make unique connections by combining different disciplines. This is reflected in 3mE’s outstanding, state-of-the-art education, which trains students to become responsible and socially engaged engineers and scientists. We translate our knowledge and insights into solutions to societal issues, contributing to a sustainable society and to the development of prosperity and well-being. That is what unites us in pioneering research, inspiring education and (inter)national cooperation.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering. Do you want to experience working at our faculty? These videos will introduce you to some of our researchers and their work.

Additional information

For more information about the project, please contact Dr. Dimitra Dodou, e-mail:

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply by February 29, 2024 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.

Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD04965


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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Application procedure

A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.

Application procedure

Application procedure

A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.

Make sure to apply no later than 29 Feb 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).