PhD student | Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Network Fellowship
‘Advancing methods of estimating physical activity volume and intensity ’ (36 hrs/week)

Apply until: 1st May 2023

About the role

The Diabetes Research Centre at the University of Leicester is seeking a candidate who will study for a doctorate in using accelerometer data to advance methods of estimating physical activity volume and intensity. The candidate will join the Learning network for Advanced Behavioural Data Analysis (LABDA), a stimulating, high-level European Doctoral program including 13 PhD students trained in several European countries.

The LABDA project

LABDA (Learning Network for Advanced Behavioural Data Analysis) is an EU-funded MSCA Doctoral Network that brings together leading researchers in advanced movement behaviour data analysis at the intersection of data science, method development, epidemiology, public health, and wearable technology to train a new generation of creative and innovative public health researchers via training-through-research. Via training-through-research projects, 13 doctoral fellows will establish novel methods for advanced 24/7 movement behaviour data analysis of sensor-based data, examine the added value of advanced behavioural data analysis and multi-modal data for predicting health risk and facilitate the use and interpretability of the advanced methods for application in science, policy, and society. Find out more here on youtube.

About you

As the successful applicant, you will collate and advance methods of quantifying the volume and intensity of accelerometer-assessed physical activity. You will use datasets available nationally, such as the UK Biobank, and regionally using collected data through the Diabetes Research Centre, University of Leicester, or through local authority data capture systems. Your work will determine the extent to which methods are interoperable between cohorts, discriminate between groups, and predict health status and/or risk. In addition, you will work towards improving the interpretability of volume and intensity metrics, e.g., by establishing physical activity volume and intensity centile norms and determining the impact of adding specific activities to the physical activity profile.

Your tasks:

  • Develop methods for characterising the volume and intensity of physical profiles across a range of existing cohort databases.
  • Engage with all stakeholders relevant to the project on a regular basis.
  • Report on findings by publishing scientific articles, resulting in a dissertation.
  • Present findings at (inter)national meetings/conferences.
  • Collaborate and exchange knowledge and skills with the other LABDA fellows.
  • Contribute to the LABDA toolbox of advanced analysis methods for sensor-based behavioural data.
  • Contribute to educational activities of the department and within the consortium.
  • In addition, you meet the following requirements and experience:

  • Masters degree in human movement sciences, data science, or a related discipline with good knowledge of statistics
  • Experience in quantitative analyses using stata or equivalent
  • Experience with programming in R
  • Fluent in English
  • The following experience and skills would be highly valuable:

  • Previous experience with accelerometer data
  • Previous experience in research on physical activity
  • To be eligible, applicants need to fulfil the MSCA basic requirements:

  • Must not already hold a doctoral degree.
  • Must comply with the mobility rule: not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date.
  • Additional information

    As part of the project you will go on secondments including:

  • Department of Sport Science and Physical Education, University of Agder, Norway: to characterise volume and intensity of physical activity using data from population-based sample of Norwegians across the lifespan (collaborator: Dr Bjørge Hansen)
  • ActivInsights, Kimbolton, UK. To exchange knowledge and gain experience (collaborator: Mr Joss Langford).
  • This position is funded by UKRI guarantee scheme for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) of the European Union’s “Horizon Europe 2022” research and innovation program. You will be appointed as fulltime Research Assistant for 3 years at LDC, during which time you will study for a fee free PhD.

    In addition to your local PhD training, you will participate in an attractive educational program customized to the 13 doctoral candidates. The LABDA training program consists of 3 secondments (1 in Norway, 2 in UK), monthly online trainings, 4 in-person 3-day workshops, conferences to optimally develop your academic and transferable skills.

    Further information

    The University of Leicester has been changing the world, and changing people’s lives, for 100 years. When you join us, you’ll become part of a community of Citizens of Change, which includes not only our staff and our current students but also thousands of Leicester graduates around the world.

    As a diverse and forward-thinking employer, we embed the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion into everything we do. That includes not just our core missions of teaching and research, but also our support for staff, students and our local community.

    We’re committed to the wellbeing of all our staff and to the sustainability of our environment, on our campus and beyond. We offer a competitive salary package, excellent pension scheme and a generous annual leave allowance, along with opportunities to develop your career in a supportive and collaborative environment.

    For more information about this position, contact Dr Alex Rowlands on
    For more information about the application procedure, contact

    How to apply

  • Read the text about the vacancy and prepare your CV and motivation letter accordingly.
  • We take the motivation letter very seriously. In the letter, try to impress us with the relevancy of your education and professional experience (if any) to the position. Moreover, please write about what and how you can contribute to the project.
    • Apply
    • External link to University of LEICESTER job portal