SURREAL ESR 11 - Early Stage Researcher PhD project on "Virtual and Augmented Reality in urban health research and planning" - Ref: 21-13

Updated: about 1 month ago

• Full-time

• 3 years (36 months) work contract in Luxembourg

• Latest start date: 01.09.2021

• Ref: 21-13

The SURREAL consortium invites highly qualified and motivated applicants for an ESR position within the framework of the Innovative Training Networks (ITN) action «SURREAL - Systems approach of URban enviRonmEnts and heALth», which has been awarded under the Horizon 2020 - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action of the European Commission.

Description of the Action

SURREAL (Systems approach of urban environments and health) is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) action funded by the European Commission, which started as of January 2021. The network will employ 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESR students) – 2 of which at LISER in Luxembourg - for a 3 years’ high quality interdisciplinary and intersectoral PhD training. The aim of the action is to deliver a unique, creative and single training network for 15 ESR students working on an improved understanding of the urban health system's complexity, and on co-designing and applying adequate interventions in the system. The action will draw upon interactions between academic disciplines such as epidemiology, public health, human movement science, psychology, sociology, geography, and urban planning and a wide range of entities such as medical centres, public authorities, firms, and NGOs as well as citizens. Equipped with this expertise and supported by innovative training formats, such as Collaborative Learning in Practice (CLiP), SURREAL trains the next generation of professionals in urban health.

The team

The consortium is composed of 10 universities and research institutes joining forces with 20 partner organizations. Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research - LISER (LU) (Martin Dijst) is the managing coordinator in the project. The other beneficiaries are Université du Luxembourg - (LU), Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale – INSERM (FR), Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht - UMC UTRECHT (NL), Erasmus Universitair Medisch Centrum Rotterdam - ERASMUS MC (NL), Wageningen University – WU (NL), Universiteit Hasselt – UHASSELT (BE), Tel Aviv University – TAU (IL), Fundacion Privada Instituto de Salud Global Barcelona - ISGLOBAL (ES) and Tartu Ülikool – UTARTU (EE). The partner organizations are located in The Netherlands, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Israel, Spain, France, UK, and Estonia. 

Your role

Within the SURREAL network, we will select 15 ESR students for a 3-year advanced research training for the following individual ESR research projects resulting in a PhD-thesis, 2 of which at LISER in Luxembourg:

For further information on the projects,please click here:

ESR 1 - Social inequalities in exposures and implications for physical and mental health - ERASMUS MC (NL) - Prof. Dr. Frank van Lenthe

ESR 2 - The impact of environmental exposures on cardiometabolic health and cognitive functioning in children in different SES groups - UHASSELT (BE) - Prof. Dr. Tim Nawrot

ESR 3 - Understanding of the health differences in migrants and SES groups living in an urban environment - UMC UTRECHT (NL) - Dr. Ilonca Vaartjes

ESR 4 - Effects of exposure to green spaces versus the built environment on physical and mental health differentiated by SES - (LU) - Prof. Dr. Claus Vögele

ESR 5 - Socio-spatial inequalities in changes in exposures and implications for changes cardio-metabolic health - LISER (LU) - Prof. Dr. Martin Dijst (job ad with Ref. 21-12)

ESR 6 - Changes in physical environment related to changes in neigbourhood SES and the impact on health and behaviour - UMC UTRECHT (NL) - Dr. Ilonca Vaartjes

ESR 7 - Environmental and health inequalities in industrially contaminated areas - UTARTU (EE) - Dr. Kati Orru

ESR 8 - Use of novel marker to assess the relation in exposure to combustion-related black carbon air pollution cardiometabolic outcomes in children in different SES groups - UHASSELT (B) - Prof. Dr. Tim Nawrot

ESR 9 - Sensor-based innovations for assessing momentary neighbourhood, environmental, and mobility exposures - INSERM (FR) - Dr. Basile Chaix

ESr 10 - Sensor-based innovations for assessing momentary and daily health outcomes relevant to mental and cardiovascular health - TAU (IL) - Dr. Amit Birenboim

ESR 11 - Virtual and Augmented Reality in urban health research and planning - LISER (LU) - Prof. Dr. Martin Dijst (current job ad)

ESR 12 - The impact of urban policies for social inequalities in physical and mental health- ERASMUS MC (NL) - Dr. Mariëlle Beenackers

ESR 13 - Health impact assessment of urban and transport developments in Barcelona, Paris and Utrecht - ISGLOBAL (ES) - Prof. Dr. Mark Nieuwenhuijsen

ESR 14 - Co-creating community-based healthy lifestyle interventions in a low socioeconomic neighbourhood - WU (NL) - Dr. Monique Simons

ESR 15 - Evaluating the role of citizens in gamified experiences for health - (LU) - Dr. Catherine Jones

Project description ESR 11 - Virtual and Augmented Reality in urban health research and planning

Host institution: Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research - LISER (Luxembourg)

Research field (EURAXESS): geography, geosciences, psychological sciences, medical sciences

Researcher Profile: First Stage Researcher (R1)

Hours per week contract: 40 Hours per week

Contact: Prof. Dr. Martin Dijst -

Project Title:Virtual and Augmented Reality in urban health research and planning

Project Description:In this project, we will focus on the use of virtual or augmented reality applications to study environmental attributes that could encourage citizens to walk more often in urban areas and which could reduce stress levels. To that purpose, stress will be measured in experimental studies prior, during and after exposure to real and identical virtual/augmented walking environments. Accelerometers will be used to measure intensity of being physical active(PA). Based on a stated-preference method, virtual/augmented simulations and measurements of PA and stress, the most promising attributes of walking environments for policy interventions will be identified.

Enrolment in Doctoral degree(s): at the diploma issuing university, Université du Luxembourg (

Required Diploma:Master in geography or other relevant social sciences discipline, or in public health or in epidemiology

Required Research Experience:

·         Knowledge in geography, social science, public health or epidemiology.

·         Knowledge in experimental quantitative research methods and statistics.

·         Experience with virtual and/or augmented reality methods would be useful but is not mandatory

·         Data management skills

·         Advanced skills for writing scientific articles in English

·         Skills in French and/or German language would be helpful but are not strictly mandatory

Eligibility: If you are interested in this ESR project, you are required to:

         ☐ be working exclusively for the action; AND

         ☐ not have resided AND not have carried out your main activity (work, studies) in Luxembourg for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date; AND

       ☐ be — at the date of recruitment — in the first four years of your research career and not have a doctoral degree. Considered is: time spent as FTE research experience, measured from the date when you obtained the degree entitling you to embark on a doctorate even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged.

Complete applications with all required documents are to be submitted to, before May 12th, 2021.

This project is part of the SURREAL H2020-ITN PhD training network of in total 15 Individual ESR Research projects.

You may apply for up to 4 projects within the network, adding a document to your application file in which you indicate their order of priority.

Your profile (general)

• The minimum requirement is a recognized diploma qualifying for doctoral studies in the recruiting country (e.g. Master degree). Students in their last year of study may apply but can only be recruited upon successful graduation. For specific diploma requirements, please see the project description.

• Strong motivation to engage in interdisciplinary and intersectoral network wide training activities;

• Willingness to closely collaborate with other academic disciplines and societal stakeholders;

• Willingness to participate in two internships ;

• Willingness to participate in network-wide training events, and to communication, dissemination and engaging activities;

• Fluent in English, both written as well as oral;

• Skills in academic writing and reporting;

• Good organizational skills, good communications skills;

• Ability to take own initiatives as well as work in groups to solve complex problems.


• A first period of x months full-time appointment to be extended with a further period of 36-x months (for a total of 3 years) contingent on a satisfactory performance during the first period;

• An exciting, multi-disciplinary and international research environment with ample opportunities for exchange with scholars from related disciplines at the universities and research institutes in the consortium, as well as with the local partner organizations and local stakeholders;

• A creative, entrepreneurial, innovative and holistic training environment consisting of :

    o Individual Research Projects (IRP), providing excellent supervision and mentoring with academics and non-academics;

    o Structured local training programs, comprising specific training courses in research-related skills and well as training in complementary skills, offered on the basis of a Personal Career Development Plan;

    o Network-wide activities, i.c. 3 Network Schools, in Utrecht, Paris and Barcelona;

    o Secondments, i.c. at least two inter-sectoral secondments to participants within the SURREAL Network;

    o Collaborative learning in practice (CLiP), allowing to engage continuously with and learn from working in real urban health intervention situations;

    o Career development modules, i.c. the use of Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) and how to effectively employ the RDF Planner as basis for a Personal Career Development Plan (PCDP);

• Additional training and networking opportunities through participation in international conferences.

Application process

Please submit your complete application via the email address or platform indicated in the project(s) you wish to apply for, until Monday May 12th, 2021, unless a different date is indicated in the project description.

The following documents are required:

• Copy of your ID

• Letter of motivation

• A note suggesting specific research questions related to the project's theme (1/2 A4)

• Curriculum Vitae

• Copy of the highest diploma. The minimum requirement is a diploma qualifying for doctoral studies in the recruiting country (e.g. Master degree). Students in their last year may apply but can only be recruited upon successful graduation.

• Contact details of two referees (no recommendation letter)

• Writing sample (e.g. student’s paper or chapter thesis) preferably in English

Applicants can apply for up to 4 Individual ESR Research Projects, indicating their order of priority.

Female applicants are particularly encouraged to apply.

Selected applicants will be called for an interview.

The job will start at the latest September 1, 2021.

For SURREAL related information, please contact prof. dr. Martin Dijst (Network Coordinator)

For information on the individual ESR projects please contact the local supervisor.

For administrative matters, please contact (Consortium Office Manager).

All Beneficiaries in the consortium are Equal Opportunity Employers

GDPR consent statement

By submitting your application via the email address or platform indicated in the project(s), you consent to the following:

• Your personal records and application files are kept at the institution(s) to which you submitted them, until 5 years after the end date of the project, i.c. 31.12.2029;

• Your personal records and application files may also be shared with the recruitment committees of other projects in the consortium, in particular if such sharing increases your chances of being recruited;

• In the event you are shortlisted in view of potential recruitment, your personal records and application files are additionally kept at the Network Coordinator institute, i.c. LISER – Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research, until 5 years after the end date of the project, i.c. 31.12.2029;

• Any additional GDPR/data protection notices for recruitment applicable at the institution to which you submit your application.

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