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Towards understanding the role of chronotype, sleep and timing of physical activity and food intake in appetite control and energy balance


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Tuesday 23 April 2024
Country eligibility
UK only
Dr Kristine Beaulieu
Additional supervisors
Dr Mark Hopkins; Professor G Finlayson
School of Psychology
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

This fully funded PhD place provides an exciting opportunity to pursue postgraduate research in a range of fields relating to appetite control, energy balance, sleep and chronobiology with experts from the University of Leeds and the University of Chicago.<br /> <br /> The School of Psychology invites applications from prospective postgraduate researchers who wish to commence study for a PhD in the academic year 2024/2025 for the Thomas Ward Scholarship.<br /> <br /> The award is open to full-time or part-time candidates (UK only) who meet the eligibility for a place on a PhD degree at the School of Psychology, with backgrounds in psychology, nutrition, bioscience, sport science, or a relevant field. We especially welcome applications from individuals who have an interest in time-series statistical data analyses and in contributing to the running of a UKRI-funded dietary weight loss intervention. Prior experience is not required but is desirable.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>Little is known about the influence of chronotype and sleep on compensatory appetitive behaviours and weight loss outcomes in response to dietary and exercise interventions. Moreover, how the timing of food intake and exercise affects appetite control and energy balance remains to be fully understood. More studies examining the interplay between chronotype, sleep parameters, food intake and physical activity are required as this could be of importance to inform personalized dietary and exercise prescriptions to promote better appetite control and weight loss outcomes.</p> <p>Combining both secondary data analyses and collection of new data, this PhD project aims to explore the influence of chronotype, sleep parameters and timing of food intake and physical activity on appetite control and energy balance. This is important as current prevention and treatment of obesity and related metabolic diseases include dietary restriction and increased levels of physical activity; however, traditional interventions consider &ldquo;what&rdquo; and &ldquo;how much&rdquo; to eat and exercise, but not &ldquo;when&rdquo;. Indeed, even in recent clinical guidelines for obesity management in adults (e.g. Wharton et al. 2020), little to no reference is made to the timing of food intake and even less to the timing of exercise and sleep. Consideration for individual differences in sleep-wake patterns (i.e. chronotype) is also lacking. This research will lead to a greater understanding of the role of chronotype, sleep and timing of food intake and physical activity in appetite control and obesity management. This research will help underpin specific mechanisms and help design novel clinical interventions for future research. It will also provide insight to help formulate recommendations for people living with obesity to improve appetite control and weight outcomes.&nbsp;</p> <p>The core research questions of the PhD, to be developed with the successful candidate, include:</p> <ol> <li>What is the association of chronotype and novel sleep parameters with appetite and body composition in women?</li> <li>What is the association of timing of food intake and physical activity with appetite and body composition in women?</li> <li>Do chronotype, sleep, and timing of food intake and physical activity impact the rate of weight loss during dietary energy restriction to &ge;5% in women with overweight/obesity?</li> <li>Do chronotype, sleep and exercise timing affect exercise-induced weight loss?</li> <li>What is the impact of chronotype, sleep, and timing of food intake and physical activity with rate of weight loss and compensatory behaviours during dietary energy restriction to &ge;10% in individuals with overweight/obesity?&nbsp;</li> </ol> <h3><strong>Conditions:</strong></h3> <ul> <li>Applicants must not have already been awarded or be currently studying for a doctoral degree.</li> <li>Awards must be taken up by no later than 1st October 2024.</li> <li>Applicants must live within a reasonable distance of the University of Leeds whilst in receipt of this scholarship.</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>To apply for this scholarship opportunity applicants should complete an&nbsp;<a href=";type=184&amp;DID=757&amp;" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">online application form</a>&nbsp;and attach the following documentation to support their application.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li> <p>a full academic CV</p> </li> <li>degree certificate and transcripts of marks</li> <li>Evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (if applicable)</li> </ul> <p>To help us identify that you are applying for this scholarship project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;</p> <ul> <li>Select PhD in Psychology&nbsp;as your programme of study</li> <li>Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert</li> <li>For source of funding please state you are applying for a Thomas Ward Scholarship</li> </ul> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to this scholarship in the School of Psychology should normally have an Undergraduate degree of 2:1 or above (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject area. A Master&rsquo;s degree is desirable, but not essential.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Medicine and Health minimum requirements for this PhD are: &bull; British Council IELTS - score of 6.5 overall, with no element less than 6.0. The test must be dated within 2 years of the start of the course in order to be valid.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>The Thomas Ward Scholarship will attract an annual tax-free stipend matching the UKRI rate (&pound;18,622 for 2023/24) each year for up to 3 years subject to satisfactory progress. Academic fees will also be paid at the UK fee rate. Due to limited funding we can only consider applicants for this position who are eligible for UK fee status. Part time study is also available, and the stipend and study duration will be amended accordingly.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>We encourage applicant to contact the supervisor(s) for informal discussion about the suitability of the project before applying to the University</p> <p>Dr Kristine Beaulieu e:&nbsp;<a data-email-addr="50dd26096380d9be25c38b872b9fc36758b719f1d871bbe46ea5ea0a7c341025" data-email-name="" data-stattype="2" href="javascript:void(0)"></a></p> <p>For further information about the application process please contact the Admissions team</p> <p>e:&nbsp;<a data-email-addr="362b73e637859029b72fb7319aa7bd55ffa6b1008d3b8af963f71c16a640deed" data-email-name="" data-stattype="2" href="javascript:void(0)"></a></p>