2020 applicants
Postgraduate Research Opportunity

Obesity management: a focus on glucose dynamics, diet and lifestyle


Title: SCH38: Obesity management: a focus on glucose dynamics, diet and lifestyle

Funding: A full Home/EU fee waiver or equivalent fee discount for overseas students  (£5,103 in 2020-21) (further fee details - international students will need to pay the balance of their fees) plus a doctoral stipend equivalent to the RCUK Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,285 in 2020-21).

Application deadline: Tuesday 31 March 2020

Start date: October 2020

Duration: 3 years (full time)

Location: Colchester Campus

Based in: School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences (in collaboration with Department of Psychology)

This opportunity is now closed. View our open opportunities.


Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, and its prevalence is increasing. In a 2017 report, 64.3% of adults were either overweight or obese (HSE 2017).

Increasing rates of obesity may be related to the type of energy storage in the body that is promoted by the Western diet (moderate-high carbohydrate, refined grains/added sugars).

This project will investigate novel approaches in obesity management.

The project

The proposed PhD project will use the personalised measurement and monitoring of physiological data and behaviours related to eating to promote effective and lasting weight loss.

The PhD candidate will benefit from supervision and access to measurement and monitoring tools across the two departments of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences and Psychology.


The award consists of a full Home/EU fee waiver or equivalent fee discount for overseas students (further fee details), a doctoral stipend equivalent to the Research Councils UK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,285 in 2020-21), plus £2,500 training bursary via Proficio funding, which may be used to cover the cost of advanced skills training including conference attendance and travel.


Dr Maria Filippetti


Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Dr Filippetti has extensive experience studying the early development of the bodily self and the multisensory basis of body awareness (e.g. Filippetti et al., 2013 Current Biology; Filippetti et al., 2015 Cerebral Cortex; Filippetti & Tsakiris, 2017 Cognition). Her expertise with designing experiments to test infants’ as well adults’ awareness of the body and internal bodily signals (e.g. hunger and fullness) will be highly valuable for the proposed project.

Dr Helge Gillmeister


Department of Psychology, University of Essex

Dr Helge Gillmeister has been working with EEG for nearly 20 years, and has many publications on the topic of body representation in top journals in Cognitive Neuroscience. Her more recent work includes work on food perception, dietary motivations, over-eating and under-eating behaviours.

Dr Sally Waterworth

Project collaborator

School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex

Dr Sally Waterworth has over 20 years’ experience working as a Sports Therapist, Coach and more recently, a Sports Nutritionist. She is a member of the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr) and has a particular interest in promoting health alongside performance. Her expertise in working with individuals to change their behaviours as well as knowledge of metabolism and physiology will be valuable for the proposed project.


  • BSc (Hons) or MSc in Psychology, Biology, Physiology or subject related to biomedical or nutritional sciences.
  • Experience of working with human participants is desirable.

How to apply

You can apply for this postgraduate research opportunity online.

Please include your CV, covering letter, personal statement, and transcripts of UG and Masters degrees in your application.

The University has moved to requiring only one reference for PhD applications and these can be received after a conditional offer has been made so the absence of these will not hold up the recruitment process.

Instruction to applicants

When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:

  • For "Course title" please put "Sport and Exercise Science", tick "postgraduate research" and hit "search". This will bring up a list of matching courses, select the one marked "full time" and "PhD".
  • For "Proposed research topic or area of research" please put the title of this studentship (SCH38: Obesity management: a focus on glucose dynamics, diet and lifestyle)
  • For "If you have contacted a potential supervisor..." please put the name of the lead supervisor (Dr Catherine Kerr)

If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email the lead supervisor, Dr Catherine Kerr (catherine.kerr@essex.ac.uk).

You can find the terms and conditions of this studentship here (PDF).

Student and academic working at a board together
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