PhD Position in Computational Neuroscience in Cognitive Modeling

University of Amsterdam Faculty of Science

PhD candidate in Computational Neuroscience - Cognitive Modeling

Publication date 17 June 2020

Closing date 24 July 2020

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month

Vacancy number 20-352

The Cognitive & Systems Neuroscience group is seeking a highly qualified and motivated candidate for a PhD position in Computational Neuroscience, under a recently acquired grant for the third phase of the EU FET Flagship Human Brain Project (HBP SGA3), coordinated by Prof. Cyriel Pennartz. The HBP is a large collaboration between European institutions, aiming to develop a research infrastructure for ‘computing the brain’ and applying this to experimental and theoretical neuroscience. The main objective of this PhD project is to develop a large, biologically plausible model of a cortical architecture that constructs predictive object and scene representations and performs cognitive operations on these representations, such as scene segmentation, object categorization and object constancy in the face of variable sensory input. The candidate will closely collaborate with computational neuroscientists, experimental neuroscientists, theoreticians and machine learning experts.

What are you going to do?

You are expected:

  • to perform in-depth study of predictive coding models and machine learning, in particular unsupervised and self-supervised neural networks;
  • to acquire thorough knowledge on cognitive, perceptual and computational neuroscience;
  • to construct neurobiologically plausible, multi-area models for multisensory object recognition;
  • to expand these models into a cognitive architecture, including cognitive functionalities related to categorization and semantic memory, scene segmentation, active inference and integrated perception ;
  • to contribute to collaborative efforts integrating models and findings into a theoretical framework of consciousness;
  • to collaborate with other groups in the Human Brain Project, use simulation and high-performance computing resources and contribute to data and model curation;
  • to take part in the teaching effort of the group, including supervision of bachelor and master students;
  • to write scientific manuscripts and a PhD thesis.

We will base our selection on your scientific and/or technological track record, as well as on your academic achievements, qualifications, and vision.

What do we require?

  • MSc in computational neuroscience or closely related field with a strong background in neural modelling. Alternatively, a MSc in Machine Learning (via Artificial Intelligence) or Biomedical, Electronic or Automation Engineering, Computer Science, Physics or a closely related field with a clear background or affinity for brain-inspired modelling;
  • concrete experience in a computational neuroscience modeling project, or machine learning project with clear links to neuroscience;
  • strong programming skills in machine learning and neural network modelling;
  • experience with the use of supercomputers and simulation engines is considered an advantage;
  • affinity with experimental neural data and ability to use such data in making models;
  • strong communicative skills enabling you to work in multidisciplinary teams and international context.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week, for the duration of 48 months (initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory performance evaluation it can be extended) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. You are also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduates.

Based on a full-time employment contract (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,395 in the first year to €3,061 in the last year. These amounts are exclusive 8 % holiday allowance and 8.3 % end-of-year bonus. 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? Then find out more about working at the Faculty of Science.

About the Faculty of Science and SILS

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 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 16 research groups that perform excellent research centered on four themes: Cell & Systems Biology, Neurosciences, Microbiology and Green Life Sciences.


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

  • Prof. Cyriel Pennartz or dr Jorge Mejias

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, with the name and email address of two academic referees, and a cover letter by 24 July. You may apply online by using the link below. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

Apply now