PhD Candidate in Artificial Intelligence for Science

Amsterdam, Netherlands
€2,325 to €2,972 gross per month
02 Sep 2019
End of advertisement period
01 Oct 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

Closing date     1 October 2019
Level of education     Master's degree
Hours     38 hours per week
Salary indication     €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month

Are you passionate about AI and science? We are seeking 5 PhD candidates for our new AI4Science initiative, a multidisciplinary collaboration of various research institutes at the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands). Its aim is to analyze complex scientific data sets by applying data-driven techniques based on recent breakthroughs in machine learning, combined with model-driven approaches that can deal with the specifics of scientific data. It will start off with the following five research projects, each one dealing with the fundamental question of how to recognize and extract the scientifically important information from a large stream of noisy data:

  • classifying radio phenomena in real time with streaming machine learning (API);
  • unraveling chemical structure-property relationships from two-dimensional liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry (HIMS);
  • graphical models to understand and predict bird migration in Europe (IBED);
  • accelerating gravitational wave signal discoveries and analyses with deep learning (IoP);
  • causal discovery to reveal complex gene regulation networks from vast transcriptome data sets (SILS).

The AI4Science Lab will be part of the Amsterdam Machine Learning Lab (AMLab), one of the larger groups within the Informatics Institute (IvI). Each project will be done in collaboration with experts from the respective scientific domain from various research institutes: the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API), the Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS), the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), the Institute of Physics (IOP), the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS).

What are you going to do?

You are going to carry out the AI research and development in one of the five projects mentioned above, spending half of the time in the AI4Science lab and half of the time in the group of the domain-specific institute. Your daily supervisor within the AI4Science lab will be dr. Patrick Forré of AMLab. In addition, you will be co-supervised by a scientific expert from the relevant domain-specific institute. Each project also has two promotors, one from the Informatics Institute (prof. dr. Max Welling or dr. Joris Mooij) and one from the domain-specific institute. More details on the five research projects can be found on the AI4Science webpage.

Your tasks will be to:

  • apply and develop AI methods for scientific data analysis within the context of one of the five research projects;
  • complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • collaborate with other AI4Science researchers;
  • regularly present intermediate research results at international conferences and workshops, and publish them in proceedings and journals;
  • assist in relevant teaching activities.

What do we require?

  • A Master's degree in artificial intelligence, computer science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology or closely related area;
  • a strong background in AI / machine learning / data science;
  • a strong interest in physics, astronomy, chemistry or biology;
  • excellent mathematical skills (especially in probability theory and statistics, calculus, and linear algebra);
  • excellent programming skills (preferably in at least one of the following languages: C++, Python, R);
  • strong communication, presentation and writing skills and excellent command of English;
  • commitment, perseverance and a cooperative attitude;
  • you are highly motivated and creative, and enjoy working in a multidisciplinary research environment.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week, preferably starting at 1 January 2020 for the duration of 48 months. Initial employment is 18 months and after a positive evaluation, the appointment will be extended further with 30 months and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). You will get a customized Training and Supervision Plan, that will be evaluated every year.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2.325 to €2.972 (scale P) gross per month, based on fulltime (38 hours a week), exclusive 8 % holiday allowance and 8.3 end-of-year bonus. A favorable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

Patrick Forré
T: + 31 (0)20 5257519

About the Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 6,500, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The AI4Science lab will be embedded within the Amsterdam Machine Learning Lab (AMLab), headed by prof. Max Welling, and one of the larger groups within the Informatics Institute (IvI). AMLab conducts research in the area of large scale modelling of complex data sources. This includes the development of new methods for probabilistic graphical models and nonparametric Bayesian models, the development of faster (approximate) inference and learning methods, deep learning, causal inference, reinforcement learning and multi-agent systems and the application of all of the above to large scale data domains in science and industry ('Big Data problems').

The following research institutes of the Faculty of Science are also involved in the AI4Science initiative.

  • Research at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API) addresses some of the major questions of astronomy: what is the nature of space and time? Are we alone? What is our cosmic origins? How are the most energetic explosions and particles in the universe powered? How did the Sun and Earth form? The focus is on specific techniques and objects that are deemed promising avenues for finding answers to the big questions.
  • The Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) has as its core objective to understand and predict the behaviour of molecules in increasingly complex processes and systems. Research at HIMS is organized in four themes: Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry, Molecular Photonics and Sustainable Chemistry. Each theme operates at the forefront of their respective field and together provide a unique synergy for designing, creating, characterizing and understanding molecular systems, to address important societal and industrial challenges.
  • The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) aims at a better understanding of the dynamics of ecosystems at all relevant levels, from genes to ecosystems, using a truly multidisciplinary approach, and based on both experimental and theoretical research. The overarching research goal is to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities.
  • The Institute of Physics (IoP), which has as its mission to carry out excellent research in the field of experimental and theoretical physics, to provide inspiring teaching within the physics and other curricula and to transfer knowledge of and enthusiasm for physics to society. The combination with the NWO Institutes at Amsterdam Science Park constitutes the largest physics hub in the Netherlands and is an international centre of excellence.
  • The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) houses approximately 230 scientists and staff members work in 16 research groups that perform excellent research, centred on the themes Green Life Sciences, Cell & Systems Biology, Neurosciences and Microbiology.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your CV and cover letter by 1 October 2019. You can apply online by using the link below.

Applications should include:

  • a curriculum vitae, including list of publications if applicable;
  • a motivation letter that motivates your choice for this position, and in particular, for one of the research projects;
  • an electronic copy of your Master’s thesis;
  • a complete record of Bachelor and Master courses (including grade transcripts and the explanation of the grading system used by your university);
  • an indication of your rank within your year (top-k out of N students);
  • the names and contact information of two academic references (please do not include any recommendation letters).

All these should be grouped in a single PDF attachment. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

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