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VUB PhD Day 2021

Welcome to the VUB’s PhD Day! This is an event that is organized every other year by Researcher Training & Development Office and the Doctoral Schools for researchers and professionals in doctoral education. The idea is to bring together PhD candidates from all disciplines in order to share experiences, learn from each other and discover what’s new in doctoral support and education.   

This edition's focus: 


UN SDG Sustainable Development Goals: 
Bridging Research and Society - Global Challenges translated into Local Projects and Research (interdisciplinary) Projects at the VUB 

Why UN SDG goals

VUB has 4 key strategic Core Values: “Connecting, Learning, Open and Warm”, which we want to crossfertilize transversally and interdisciplinarily among the VUB PhD Community. 

Find out all about what the SDGs are and connect your research topic and results to our global society in order to solve challenges within our social, economic and biospere ecosystems.

Our goal is to make a VUB SDGs roadmap on how your research is connected.

For more info on the UN's sustainable development goals and How universities can help see PDF.


VUB PhD Day 2021: save the date

To guarantee the health of our community, the VUB PhD Day will take place in a digital format on May 27th 2021. 

Given the current circumstances, the Sustainable Development Goals will only grow in importance. They will remain the common thread running through the 2021 PhD day.  


Preliminary Programme

To be announced 

Presentations & Posters


The theme of this year's PhD Day are the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, which were adapted in 2015 by UN member states. Sustainability is also one of the key priorities for the VUB.

It is our desire to link these goals to great research and innovations that are going on at this university. Therefore we want to hand over the stage to you and give you a chance to present your work, whether through a presentation or through a poster.

This is an ideal opportunity for you to flex your presentation muscles or poster design skills, to delve deeper into the societal questions raised during the course of your research, and to have some invigorating discussions with PhD colleagues from other disciplines and departments.


How can you contribute?

Send us an abstract in which you describe the work you would like to present, whether through a presentation or a poster.

Is your research already linked to an SDG: perfect! Tell us all about it. If not, no worries. See it as an opportunity for a thought experiment in which you can explore other dimensions of your work in the light of one or more of the 17 sustainable development goals.

For example, your research may indicate that excluding older cars from city centers is beneficial, but what might the social consequences be of policies that forbid these and disproportionally hit the less well-off?

Vice-versa, economic growth has lifted millions out of property, but how can we mitigate the corresponding increase of wasteful consumerism? Wasteful consumerism that is not only detrimental to nature, but also to our own bodies, as diseases of affluence prove.

And what about these SDG’s themselves? Are they an adequate vehicle for change, or are they merely window-dressing that legitimates and sustains existing power-relations? 


General requirements

First, fill in the registration form for the PhD Day.

Afterwards, send us an abstract (max 200 words) and indicate in which of the following three broad themes you would like to situate your presentation or poster: social, economic and biosphere system. Click here to see how the seventeen different goals fit within the three-tiered SDG cake.

You should send the abstract to rtdo@vub.be with “Abstract PhD Day – Poster - <your full name>" or "Abstract PhD Day – Presentation - <your full name>” as subject, depending on what you're submitting. The deadline for this submission is 15/4/2020.

We are also looking for people to chair the different sessions, who can stimulate the discussion at the end and are great at subtly yet decisively indicating when someone is going over their allotted presentation time. You can also sign up for this through the WUFOO form.

We will let you know by 30/4/2020 if your proposal has been accepted, and what thematical group you’ve been assigned.




  • Prepare a presentation of around ten minutes by the end of May.



  • Prepare a 30 second pitch to introduce your poster during the presentation sessions. After the presentation session, we will allow for time for a poster walk.
  • The maximum poster size is A0 in portrait orientation or A2 in in landscape orientation. You will have to print and bring the poster yourself.


Doctoral Derby 2020: Congratulations to Ahmad Wali Ahmad-Yar and Jana Goyvaerts!

On Thursday 25th of June the Doctoral Derby took place as a virtual webinar. Eight PhD-candidates contended for the jury and/or audience prize. 

Jana Goyvaerts, part from the Communication Sciences Department, won the jury's prize with her research explanation about populism. Ahmad Wali Ahmad-Yar, who is a researcher at the Sociology Department, won the audience prize with a convincing 32% of votes, in second was Bryan Convens with 26% of votes and third place was a shared place by Jana Goyvaerts and Pieter Libin with each 12% of votes. 

We want to applaud each and every one of our contenders for adapting bravely to the virtual edition of this speech contest!  

You can still enjoy the pre-recorded video's from the contenders via the website of Science Figured Out. 

See you next year for the next edition of the Doctoral Derby!



Our finalists of the Doctoral Derby want to communicate their fascinating research to the outside world and share their passion for science with you.


The Researcher Training & Development Office and the Doctoral Schools will award a supervisor (or supervisory team) for their excellent supervision, and this on a two-yearly basis, starting in 2018. PhD candidates can nominate their supervisor, a tandem of supervisors or a supervisory team. The idea is that PhD candidates take the “good supervisor” guidelines, annexed to the Central PhD regulations, as a basis to evaluate if their supervisor is doing a good job and explain in 500 to 1000 words max why their supervisor should earn this award.

The laureates of 2020

The winners of the Supervisor Award 2020 are known! We congratulate Liesbeth De Donder for DSH, Aldo Scafoglieri for LSM and Hichem Sahli for NSE. Each of them were nominated by one or several of their doctoral students who appreciate their efforts as a good supervisor. Starting from the RTDO-guidelines 'Profile of the Good Supervisor' the jury were able to reach a unanimous consent and both winners and nominees were delighted with the nomination and award.

Professor Hichem Sahli: "I will forever be thankful to my fellow PhD students. They help keeping me on my toes, continuously teaching, inspiring and surprising me every day! They are also a huge help working with our master students and excite them in different ways than I do as a professor, which makes our research team whole. Coupled with their enthusiastic engagement with challenging questions, the knowledge-sharing and co-creation process becomes productive and exciting."

The Award consists of a prize of 500 EUR operating money and a lot of recognition for their good practices  as a supervisor.  Honours will be granted at the postponed PhD-Day, May 25, 2021. Be sure to save the date! 


This is part of the overall quality monitoring of the PhD progress. Firstly, this is done through the survey results of the annual PhD survey – which can pinpoint possible problems and give a general overview of current practices (the general amount of time spent on guidance, implementation of advisory commissions, overall concerns of PhDs). Secondly, we want to give the floor to good supervisors and be an inspiration to other (starting) supervisors.  

Need some good examples? Check: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2017/jun/08/what-makes-a-great-phd-supervisor

Or read excerpts of the award winning supervisors of 2018 HERE.

His interactive way of working, at first coordinated but then becoming one’s own natural way of doing, is also strengthened by his ‘open-door’ policy

Eligibility criteria 

All PhD candidates enrolled in the doctoral program or postdoctoral researchers who defended their PhD less than two years ago at the time of submitting the nomination can nominate their supervisor or supervisory team (including postdoctoral researchers for example). 

Only VUB teams or VUB supervisor(s) can be nominated. 

She sets the bar high, and expects the same from her students. Yet there is still room to make mistakes and to learn from them


Fill out the nomination form (in Dutch or English) and send it to rtdo@vub.be.   


Submission of nominations opens: 30/1/19 

Submission of nominations closes: 20/4/19 

Selection of laureates: By the end of April 

PhD supervisors nominated for the Award will be notified after closing of the submissions and will all be invited to the award ceremony.  

Jury and award ceremony


Vice-rector research policy, 3 doctoral school directors, staff members of Researcher Training & Development Office and 3 PhD representatives (one from each DS) will select 3 supervisors/advisors who will be honoured on the award ceremony at the end of the PhD day.  

Award Ceremony   

The Award Ceremony will take place during the PhD-Day 2021. The three nominated supervisors will be invited for a group discussion to give a short account of their supervisory work.   

See preliminary program of the PhD day here.

They will receive a budget of 500 eur to organise a teambuilding event with their PhD candidates. 

The laureates of 2018

During the PhD day 2018 celebrating 10 years Doctoral Schools we granted our first Excellent Supervisor Award to three VUB supervisors. 

All nominations were praiseworthy: it is demonstrated that each of these supervisor does a good and passionate job in supervising, inspiring and coordinating. 

The laureates of 2018 are: 

DSH: Christophe Vanroelen (ES) 

LSM: Lieve Van den Block (GF) 

NSE: Eric Jespers (WE) 

Read a few short excerpts of these supervisors and who else got nominated in our booklet here

Registrations for the VUB PhD Day will open on a later date

When:  May 27th 2021

Where: Online