PhD Position on “The societal and economic effects of public health interventions from an EXPOSOME approach: TiO2 as a case-study”

PhD Position on “The societal and economic effects of public health interventions from an EXPOSOME approach: TiO2 as a case-study”

Published Deadline Location
5 Jul 31 Jul Maastricht

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Who is most affected by exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in our food system, and what policies can be enacted to minimize exposure whilst fostering a healthy food-market at the Belgian and European level ? Are you interested in this question from an exposome approach? Then please keep on reading…

Job description

We are looking for a PhD researcher interested in spending 4 years collecting and analysing data relating to Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) in the food system, and generating exposure maps and policy recommendations. Moreover, the effectiveness of the recent ban and the effects on overall exposure to TiO2 in the population remain very unclear. The PhD researcher would work on generating new knowledge on this topic, and providing evidence-based policy recommendations in the common interest of the citizens and markets of the EU, and Belgium in particular. 


Maastricht University (UM)


Minimum Qualifications:

  • Masters degree in statistics, biostatistics, (bio)engineering, epidemiology, mathematics or physics, computational social / data sciences or in a related field with evidence of interest in statistical and computational methods ; 
  • Strong coding skills with R and/or Python / Julia ; 
  • Strong statistical understanding of regression models, regularization, sampling theory, statistical power, and other elements of statistical learning ; 

Desired Qualifications: 

  • A background working in collaboration with / in a lab ; 
  • Knowledge of Bayesian methods – ability to code in OpenBUGS, JAGS and / or Stan ; 
  • Experience with Multilevel Regression and Post-Stratification (MrP) ; 
  • Interest in working or studying under the Exposome paradigm ; 

Generic competencies:

  • Good academic writing skills ;
  • Excellent spoken and written English ;
  • Excellent communicative skills, teamplayer, enjoy a multi-disciplinary environment ;

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

  • We offer a rewarding career at a young university in the heart of Europe, with a distinct global perspective and a strong focus on innovative research and education, embedded in a strong team and excellent consortium;

  • The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO), supplement with local UM provisions. For more information on terms of employment, please visit our website > About UM > Working at UM;

  • The salary will be set in the PhD-candidate salary scale of the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities (€ 2.541 gross per month in the first year up to €3.247 gross per month in the fourth year). On top of this, there is an 8% holiday allowance and a 8.3% year-end allowance.

  • We offer an attractive package of fringe benefits such as reduction on collective health insurance, substantial leave arrangements, optional model for designing a personalized benefits package and application for attractive fiscal arrangements for employees from abroad.

We offer a full-time employment contract as a PhD candidate for 4 years. Teaching will be expected for 20 % of the time. Research will be required at the two venues, both Maastricht University and Sciensano (Tervuren, Belgium), main location to be decided with the applicant.


Maastricht University / Sciensano Belgium

Data Analytics and Digitalisation (School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University) and Trace Elements and Nanomaterials (Chemical and Physical Health Risks, Sciensano, Belgium) join forces for this project. 

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. The School of Business and Economics. SBE is the youngest economics and business faculty in the Netherlands with a distinctively international profile. It belongs to the 1% of business schools worldwide to be triple-crown accredited (EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA). SBE strongly believes in close connections with its academic partners and societal stakeholders, with its students and alumni, and with businesses and organisations in the Limburg Euregion, the Netherlands, Europe and the rest of the world. 

The department of Data Analytics and Digitalisation (DAD) connects data science (mathematics, statistics, computer science, artificial intelligence) with business and economics research (finance, accounting, marketing, information management, operations, micro- and macroeconomics, policy design). We are responsible for conducting top-level research in data science for business and economics ranging from fundamental theoretical studies to applied industrial projects. 

Sciensano is a Belgian public health institution where science and health are central to its mission. Sciensano’s strength and uniqueness lie within the holistic and multidisciplinary approach to health. More particularly we focus on the close and indissoluble interconnection between human and animal health and their environment (the “One health” concept). By combining different research perspectives within this framework, Sciensano contributes in its unique way to everybody’s health. For this, Sciensano builds on the more than 100 years of scientific expertise of the former Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre (CODA-CERVA) and the ex-Scientific Institute of Public Health (WIV-ISP).

The research group Trace Elements and Nanomaterials has a long standing experience in the study of trace elements and nanoparticles in food, feed, food supplements and materials in contact with food. For these topics, it functions as the Belgian National Reference Laboratory (NRL). More specifically the group has particular (research) experience in the physicochemical characterization of nanomaterials in food additives and food contact materials, as well as the analysis of heavy metal impurities in food and feed. In the context of TiO2, Sciensano has experience in measuring and determining its physicochemical properties in candy and in face masks (EFSA-NANO, TiO2mask). 


  • PhD
  • AT2022.298


Maastricht University (UM)

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