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PhD Candidate Spatial Statistics and Geo-Information Integration for Informed Public Health Response

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Job description

Tropical diseases affect more than one billion people, costing developing economies billions of dollars every year. They remain a formidable challenge to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG-3) of ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The current sobering trends of tropical diseases like diarrhea, cholera, malaria, typhoid, and intestinal worms within the sub-Sahara Africa region are the realities of these challenges. There is considerable optimism about control and reductions in morbidities if knowledge of the spatial dynamics and environmental determinants is well explored. Spatial statistics, when integrated with geo-information and epidemiologic studies, can lead to the understanding of the nature of spatial patterns, the temporal dynamics, and the predisposing factors that contribute to infection.

This PhD research aims to develop spatial, temporal, and spatiotemporal models that associate overburdened tropical diseases with environmental, socioeconomic, demographic and climatic exposures. As inter­disciplinary research it integrates public health and epidemiology with spatial statistics. Research will focus on the use of both primary and secondary data from existing health management information systems within the Sub-Saharan Africa setting. The combined exposure effects of space, time, and space-time will lead to highly parameterized models. The prospective PhD candidate should have the eagerness to explore the use of Hierarchical Bayesian estimation method since it allows flexible modeling and inference and provides computational advantages via the implementation of Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC, WinBUGS/JAGS, STAN) methods or Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation (INLA).

The study will be in collaboration with the Ghana Health Services (GHS) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)-Ghana.

Your profile

  • You have an MSc degree in public health, biostatistics, geomatic engineering or environmental engineering or data science.
  • You have expertise in acquisition and processing of geo-information & remote sensing data.
  • You have good knowledge in spatial data analysis and excellent programming skills in R, or python
  • You have demonstrated scientific creativity that has preferably resulted in a scientific publication.
  • You have excellent communication skills and good English language proficiency
  • You have familiarity with the sub-Saharan Africa region and willing to spend about 6 months gathering data in this region.
  • You have an affinity with a multi-cultural education environment, excellent work ethics, and commitment to the job

Our offer

We offer a position in an inspiring and challenging multidisciplinary and international environment for a period of four years. Salary and conditions will be in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) for Dutch Universities:

  • A starting salary of € 2,395.00 in the first year and a salary of € 3,061.00 in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 41 holiday days in case of full-time employment;
  • Professional and personal development programs;
  • Costs for moving to Enschede may be reimbursed.

Information and application

Additional information about this position can be obtained from Dr. Frank Osei (email: f.b.osei@utwente.nl) and/or Prof. Dr. Alfred Stein (email: a.stein@utwente.nl). You are also invited to visit our GeoHealth website (https://www.itc.nl/global-impact/geo-health/).

Please submit your application before 15 April 2021 (choose “apply here” below). Your application should include:

  • A cover letter (maximum 2 pages) including a professional statement with relevant past qualifications/experiences, motivations and future goals;
  • A one page outline on how to approach this research;
  • A full Curriculum Vitae, including a list of all courses attended and grades obtained;
  • A short description (maximum 1 page A4) of your MSc research;
  • A list of names including contact information of three referees.

About the organization

The Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) 

The Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) provides international postgraduate education, research and project services in the field of geo-information science (GIS) and earth observation. We use remote sensing and GIS for collecting spatial data. Our aim is to contribute to the international exchange of knowledge, focusing on capacity building and institutional development in developing countries and emerging economies. As part of a ‘people-first' university of technology, we ensure that everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people and society through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We also seek to sustain and expand our role as a leader in academic social entrepreneurship.

As an employer, the ITC Faculty offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With our Faculty, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customizable conditions.

University of Twente (UT)

University of Twente (UT) has entered the new decade with an ambitious, new vision, mission and strategy. As ‘the ultimate people-first university of technology' we are rapidly expanding on our High Tech Human Touch philosophy and the unique role it affords us in society. Everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people, society and connections through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We want to contribute to the development of a fair, digital and sustainable society through our open, inclusive and entrepreneurial attitude. This attitude permeates everything we do and is present in every one of UT's departments and faculties. Building on our rich legacy in merging technical and social sciences, we focus on five distinguishing research domains: Improving healthcare by personalised technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

As an employer, University of Twente offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With us, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customisable conditions.

PhD Candidate Spatial Statistics and Geo-Information Integration for Informed Public Health Response
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