Postdoc or junior researcher on participatory complex systems modelling of socioeconomic inequalities in health in The Netherlands (0.8 – 1.0 FTE)

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Postdoc or junior researcher on participatory complex systems modelling of socioeconomic inequalities in health in The Netherlands (0.8 – 1.0 FTE)

Job description

Socioeconomic inequalities in health are an important and complex public health problem. Given the dynamic web of factors involved in the emergence and persistence of these inequalities, a complex systems approach can offer significant potential for better understanding of and finding ways to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in health. Therefore, in this VIDI project, we apply a complex systems perspective for better understanding how socioeconomic inequalities in health in the Netherlands emerge as a result of interrelated elements at different levels, including feedback loops and nonlinearity. Two PhD candidates have been working on the project for 3 years, and we are currently looking for a postdoc or junior researcher to complement the team in the final stages of the project. 
The VIDI project consists of several sub studies. More specifically, a first version of a conceptual systems model has been developed based on a systematic literature review. Further, a proof-of-concept Agent-Based Model has been developed focused on socioeconomic inequalities in obesity. The postdoc or junior researcher is expected to further develop these preliminary models -in collaboration with stakeholders- into models that can inform policy making.
Postdoc’s/junior researcher’s activities within the project:
We are looking for a researcher who can carry out both, or one of these activities:

  • Further develop the literature-based draft conceptual systems model into a conceptual model that represents the complex system driving socioeconomic inequalities in health. This will be done by applying participatory techniques (e.g., group model building) that involve stakeholders, including experts, policy makers at national and local levels, researchers, and people from low socioeconomic groups.
  • Further refine and improve the proof-of-concept Agent-Based Model, and -after consultation of stakeholders- calculate effects of different policy measures on socioeconomic inequalities in health. The model will also provide insights to policy makers and other stakeholders to understand the complex web of elements involved in how socioeconomic inequalities in health emerge in the Netherlands and help to gain a systemic, qualitative, and quantitative understanding of effective leverage points for interventions at different levels of the system. The postdoc or junior researcher will apply participatory methods to involve stakeholders in the model development.

If you deem yourself qualified to carry out one of these two activities, but not both, please do not hesitate to apply, as there is some freedom within the project to accommodate the activities to your skills.


We are looking for a postdoc or junior researcher with:

  • PhD or MSc in Systems Engineering and Simulation, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, Physics; or with a PhD or MSc in Health Sciences, Public Health, or similar field;
  • Experience with Agent-Based Modelling (or similar types of modelling);
  • Experience with co-designing models and developing causal loop diagrams with stakeholders;
  • Enthusiasm to work in a participatory manner with stakeholders;
  • Ability to work as an independent researcher within a wider research team;
  • Ability to perform and publish high quality research;
  • Good communication skills, both in Dutch and English.


We offer a temporary position (0.8-1.0 FTE) for 12-16 months in an international working environment. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between
€ 3,098,- and € 4,670,- (scale 9/10 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.
In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions , including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University .

About the organization

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University , the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes . Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in cultural anthropology, educational sciences, interdisciplinary social science, pedagogical sciences, psychology, and sociology. Almost 7.000 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has some 1100 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues.  
The faculty is located at Utrecht Science Park near the historical city centre of Utrecht.

Additional information

Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from Carlijn Kamphuis , , Andrea Mudd , , or Michèlle Bal , .


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. 
To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation, via the ‘apply’ button.

If you know someone who is suitable for this position, please share the vacancy.
Please note that international candidates that need a visa/work permit for the Netherlands require at least four months processing time after selection and acceptance. Our International Service Desk (ISD) can answer your questions about living in the Netherlands as international staff . Finding appropriate housing in or near Utrecht is your own responsibility, but the ISD may be able to advise you therewith. In case of general questions about working and living in The Netherlands, please consult the Dutch Mobility Portal .
The first round of interviews takes place on May 16, 2023.

The application deadline is
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