At the University of Oslo, we are starting a new exciting project in the intersection between social science and natural science

At the University of Oslo, we are starting a new exciting project in the intersection between social science and natural science, funded by the UiO:Lifescience initiative: Societal and environmental determinants of brain and cognition (AHeadForLife) – UiO:Life Science.

The primary objective of the project is to uncover how interactions between the immediate environment, larger societal factors and genes shape brain and cognitive function across the lifespan. We will research the mechanisms that link genes, social outcome and cognition, study the timing, nature and determinants of the relationships between genes, brain, cognition and social outcomes such as socioeconomic status, and use machine learning to describe the relationships between the brain and social outcome variables.

The project evolved in response to a strong joint interest of PIs from diverse fields to understand factors important for brain structure and cognitive function; psychology (Kristine B Walhovd; Anders M Fjell), economics (Ole Røgeberg), sociology (Torkild Hovde Lyngstad), genetics (Yunpeng Wang, Jennifer Harris), biostatistics (Øystein Sørensen) and physics (Atle Bjørnerud).

For this we are seeking four excellent candidates with different scientific backgrounds:

  • PhD: Hired at Department of psychology (the current position)
  • Post doc 1: Hired at Department of sociology and Human geography
  • Post doc 2: Hired at Department of psychology.
  • Post doc position 3: Hired at Department of physics.

Although the candidates formally will be hired at different UiO departments, we will arrange for partly joint office spaces and locales for physical interaction. We are therefore especially interested in candidates who are want to work in an interdisciplinary and international environment. We will have bi-weekly meetings with all candidates and project partners to ensure integration across disciplines. Joint supervision from more than one PI will be offered.

The research center

The goal of LCBC is to understand brain and cognitive changes and how to optimize them through the entire lifespan. LCBC is an active multidisciplinary research center, with a staff of about 25 full-time positions, including six faculty professors/researchers, several PostDocs and Ph.D. candidates, several programmers/engineers and full-time research assistants, extensive supporting personnel and several affiliated international researchers. LCBC has excellent research infrastructure, including access to a 3T Siemens Prisma, PET and EEG, and neuropsychological and somatic test facilities. English is the inter-collegial language of the center. LCBC coordinates a large H2020 EU-project and has obtained four grants from the European Research Council (ERC). Further funding comes from the Research Council of Norway, the National Health Association, the Thon Foundation, and the University of Oslo. The group was in 2015 appointed status as “world-leading” as one of five at the University of Oslo, with special funding. More information can be found on Colourbox

The position

A 4-year position as Ph.D. Fellow is available at the Center for Lifespan Changes in Brain and Cognition (LCBC), at the Department of Psychology, University of Oslo. The position will fit a talented candidate highly interested in developing statistical inference models to estimate the heritability of individual traits and life outcomes using administrative population registers.

Norwegian administrative data registers are linkable at the individual level, and allow for the identification of family relationships across three generations. Combined with a unique breadth of outcome data across domains ranging from health, education, family formation and occupational careers, this makes it possible to estimate a broad set of heritability models exploiting different kinds of familial relationships (twins, siblings, cousins, uncles/aunts, grandparents). This, however, requires the development and verification of statistical inference tools that can feasibly accommodate large (N>1 000 000) data samples and their densely interconnected webs of genetic relationships.

The successful applicant will develop statistical inference models for probabilistic modelling, helping solve the computational and statistical challenges required to make such models estimable on big data. These will be based on established theoretical models from quantitative genetics, which the applicant will be expected to gain familiarity with. Access will be given to necessary data and computing resources, and the Ph.D. student will collaborate with statisticians, geneticists and social scientists to develop well-documented, open-source inference models as well as specific applications using these models on Norwegian population data. A major focus for the candidate will also be scientific dissemination, i.e. writing and publication.

The main purpose of the fellowship is research training leading to the successful completion of a Ph.D. degree. Hence, the research fellow must take part in the Department’s approved Ph.D. program.

The fellowship is for a period of four years. 25% of the position is allocated to work with relevant UiO:Lifescience activity. The position will offer opportunities to develop high-quality research competence, to work with leading experts in the field, and take part in the group’s extensive network of international collaborations. In particular, the candidate will work closely with senior research fellow Ole Rogeberg at the Frisch Centre, professor of sociology Torkild Lyngstad at the University of Oslo and associate professor in biostatistics Øystein Sørensen at the University of Oslo, as well as psychologists, statisticians and geneticists at LCBC. The candidate will also have good opportunities to interact with other groups at the University of Oslo working with personalized medicine, including BigInsight ( and the Oslo Centre for Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

Qualification requirements

  •  Applicants must hold a Master’s degree or equivalent in statistics, machine learning, or a related field
  • The candidate must be qualified for admission to the PhD program at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo (
  • Excellent English communication skills, orally and in writing


  • Familiarity with high-level programming languages such as MATLAB, Python, or R is an advantage but not a requirement
  • Familiarity with software programming (e.g. R, Python, Stan,) constitutes an advantage, but not a requirement
  •  Applicants must be highly motivated to develop statistical inference models through programming

In assessing applications, particular emphasis will be placed upon the quality of the candidate’s academic qualifications. Interviews with selected candidates may be arranged where the applicant’s personal prerequisites, interest in the topic and, cooperative skills will be emphasized.

We offer

  • We offer Salary NOK 491 200 – 534 400 per annum depending on experience and qualifications.
  • Professional development in a stimulating academic environment.
  • Attractive welfare benefits and a generous pension agreement. In addition to Oslo’s family-friendly environment with its rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities.

How to apply

The application must include:

  •  Letter of application, 1-2 pages, explaining the motivation for applying.
  • Curriculum Vitae summarizing education, positions, and academic work.
  • Copies of educational certificates, publications/academic work (if any) that the applicant wishes to be considered by the evaluation committee.
  • Names and contact details of at least two references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and telephone number).
  • International applicants are advised to attach an explanation of their University’s grading system. All documents should be in Scandinavian or English.

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system.

All documents should be in Scandinavian or English. The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system. Please follow the link “apply for this job”.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Research Fellowships at the University of Oslo.

No one can be appointed for more than one PhD Research Fellowship period at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The appointment may be shortened/given a more limited scope within the framework of the applicable guidelines on account of any previous employment in academic positions.

The University of Oslo has an agreement for all employees, aiming to secure rights to research results etc.

Inclusion and diversity are a strength. The University of Oslo has a personnel policy objective of achieving a balanced gender composition. We also want to have employees with diverse expertise, combinations of subjects, life experience and perspectives. We will make adjustments for employees who require this. 

If there are qualified applicants with special needs, gaps in their CVs or immigrant backgrounds, we will invite at least one applicant in each of these groups to an interview.

Contact information

Senior researcher Ole Rogeberg (

Prof. Anders M Fjell (

Senior consultant Silje Forsland (

About the University of Oslo 

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest ranked educational and research institution, with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. With its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally recognised research communities, UiO is an important contributor to society.

The Department of Psychology is one of seven units of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and has 75 permanent and 70 temporary members of scientific staff. Degrees are offered at bachelor and master level, plus a clinical training programme, and the PhD programme has 140 students.

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