PhD Position in Brain Science

University of Amsterdam

PhD Position in the Brain Science

Faculty/Services:  Faculty of Science
Educational level:  Master
Function type:  PhD position
Closing date:  12.11.2023
Vacancy number:  12191

Are you interested in why some individuals thrive in complex societies, whereas others don’t seem to find their way? In this project, we aim to better understand the neurobiological factors that influence coping in a demanding, urban environment. You will study the effects of early life and adolescent conditions -including exposure to drugs- on later life social behavior and stress coping in mice. Enriched and complex living conditions will be at the center of the project, given their translational value and face validity. As experimental readouts, we focus on behavioral parameters like social preference, decision making and food choice, stress reactivity and underlying brain mechanisms. We will set-up automated behavioral tracking. 


The project is embedded in the framework of the Centre for Urban Mental Health (UMH), an interdisciplinary center at the UvA, where complexity and dynamics of mental health problems in an urban environment is approached from an integrative angle. You will work at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS), one of the research institutes of the University of Amsterdam and supervised by Dr. Rixt van der Veen and Prof. Paul Lucassen of the Brain Plasticity group

What are you going to do? 

As a PhD student you will develop into an independent researcher and your tasks and activities will include:
•    completing a PhD thesis in four years;
•    participating in the design of the research project; 
•    performing behavioral tasks, as well as laboratory analyses;
•    analysis, interpretation and presentation of the obtained data;
•    publishing in international journals and presentations at (inter-)national meetings;
•    attending meetings within our Brain Plasticity group, SILS and UMH gatherings;
•    participating in the Faculty of Science PhD training program;
•    assisting in teaching and supervising Bachelor and Master students.

What do we require? 

You are/have
•    an enthusiastic, motivated and dedicated scientist with a (research) master’s degree in Life Sciences

     (e.g. Biomedical Sciences, Psychobiology) or a related area; 
•    practical experience in the lab and with behavioral studies (preclinical mouse/rat models) and are preferably

     in possession of the Article 9 certificate. Programming skills are a plus; 
•    excellent analytical and communicative skills and a clear and concise writing style;
•    organized, independent, pro-active and perseverant in the face of a setback;
•    fluent in English, both written and spoken;
•    a team player, a pleasant colleague and able to work within an interdisciplinary environment.


Our offer 

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.  


Your salary will range between €2,770 in the first year to €3,539 gross per month in the last year of employment, on the basis of a full working week of 38 hours. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8.3% year-end allowance. A favorable tax agreement, the 30% ruling, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU) 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:


About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.


The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 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 Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) is one of the Faculty of Science’s largest institutes. Its approximately 240 scientists and staff members work in 17 research groups that perform excellent research centered on four themes: Neurosciences, Cell & Systems Biology, Microbiology and Green Life Sciences.


Within the Brain Plasticity group we study structural and functional plasticity of the brain in relation to stress and disease. One focus area includes the birth of new nerve cells in the adult brain, a process called "adult neurogenesis," and the role of stress on neural plasticity, especially when it occurs during vulnerable periods of early and adolescent life. We try to understand how plasticity is 'programmed' for life, how external factors (such as stress, disease, nutrition, drugs, exercise and enriched environment) influence plasticity, and what (functional) role plasticity plays in cognition and behavior, and disorders such as depression, dementia, anxiety, burnout, and PTSD.



Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 12 November 2023.

You can apply online by using the link below.  


Applications in .pdf should include:
•    a detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;
•    a letter of motivation;
•    the names and email addresses of two references who can provide letters of recommendation.


A knowledge security check can be part of the selection procedure. 
(for details: National knowledge security guidelines


We will invite potential candidates for interviews in the second half of November 2023.



The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize 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.