Doctoral Fellowship in Productive Youth Development

University of Zurich


Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development

Pre Doctoral Fellowship

90 %

The Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development is a scientific center at the University of Zurich focused on youth development. The Center is a joint venture between the University of Zurich and the Jacobs Foundation. We are dedicated to interdisciplinary, developmental research that will ultimately improve the lives of young people. Our researchers come from the fields of economics, psychology, and sociology. We also collaborate with scientists from additional disciplines in our efforts to best understand the first decades of life.

Pre Doctoral Fellowship Position (for up to 4 years) Depts of Psychology and Sociology and the Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development, University of Zurich, Switzerland. Profs. Michael Shanahan and Moritz Daum invite applications for a PhD student position with a strong interest in the interplay between context, behavior, and gene expression.

Your responsibilities

The position is part of the research project "Socioeconomic status and the regulation of the genome" funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The main goal of this project is to use data from the US, the Netherlands, and Switzerland to examine how education, income, and occupation are correlated with gene expression patterns, as well as the mechanisms that might explain these correlations.

This position will focus on data collected in Switzerland as part of z-proso
(, a longitudinal study of about 1,400 primary students that began data collection in 2004; the eighth wave was collected in 2018 when participants were 20 years old. In wave 8, genetic expression (and GWAS) data were collected from a subsample of z-proso, as well as measures of the stress process, including perceptions of stress, vigilance, defensiveness, perceptual bias, stress threshold, and hostility bias.

The goal of this positionis to develop models that explain the precursors to these measures - drawing on waves 1-7 of z-proso - and their consequences, including gene expression patterns. The PhD candidate will work as part of an international team that includes a statistician, data analyst, experts on z-proso, and a specialist in social genomics, in addition to Profs. Michael Shanahan and Moritz Daum.

Your profile

MA in Psychology or Sociology with strong quantitative training. Interest in the psychobiology of the stress process. Solid background in R is an asset. Good command of English (German is "a plus") and interest in pursuing an academic career. The successful candidate should have excellent teamwork skills and be interested in going beyond disciplinary boundaries.

What we offer

Research environment:
We offer work in an interdisciplinary, international, and collegial environment located at Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development, the University of Zurich. The position can lead to a PhD from the Department of Psychology or Sociology. In addition, some travel funds are available each year for the doctoral student to visit national and international conferences or attend workshops.

Place of work

Zurich Oerlikon

Start of employment

The review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. The position will start as soon as possible but no later than 1 March 2021 and will last for four years.
Applications should include:
(i) a cover letter that relates the applicants' experience and interests to the project
(ii) a comprehensive CV
(iii) a copy of the MA thesis
(iv) the names and contact information of at least two references.
(v) candidates for the position are additionally required to submit an R code sample (URL or attachment).

Please send the documents combined into one PDF file to Prof. Drs. Michael Shanahan and Moritz Daum, both of whom may be contacted for further information.

Further information

Prof. Drs. Michael Shanahan
and Moritz Daum

Apply now

In your application, please refer to


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