PhD Position in Data Analytics and Statistical Modeling

Catholic University of Leuven Mathematics Department

The section of statistics and data science of the mathematics department at KU Leuven offers a PhD position in collaboration with the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission. The PhD student will spend 2 years at JRC, located in Ispra (Italy), and 2 years at KU Leuven. JRC is part of the European Commission and is considered as one of Europe's leading research campuses with many laboratories and unique research infrastructures. JRC supports EU policies with independent scientific evidence throughout the whole policy cycle and its aim is to develop innovative tools that are useful to policy makers. The section of statistics and data science at KU Leuven is active in a variety of research topics. We conduct research on robust statistics, clustering techniques, visualization, and cost-sensitive learning. We regularly collaborate with international academics, practitioners from different scientific fields, and companies to apply our methods to data from finance, insurance, marketing, engineering, chemometrics, biology and more. See our website for publications and software.


Depending on your interests and motivation, your work will be on the development of one or several of our current research topics concerning the detection of outliers and anomalies with robust statistical and machine learning techniques using distance/density or tree based approaches, but also through time series, the extreme value theory and the Benford’s law. For the purpose of this project, Leuven and JRC are currently studying and developing:

  • methods for reliable sparse analysis of (ultra) high-dimensional heterogeneous data by means of linear models, generalized linear models, principal component analysis, classification, graphical models and others;

  • methods for cost-sensitive learning and the bridge between cost-sensitivity and robustness;

  • methods for(generalized) Benford’s law.

We will apply such methods and algorithms in the fields of (customs) fraud detection, anti-money laundering, misinformation detection and/or credit risk in collaboration with experts from the field. Thanks to the collaboration with JRC, you are guaranteed to work on real data.


You have a master’s degree in mathematics, statistics, data science, computer science, artificial intelligence, engineering or an equivalent degree, with at least the grade of distinction (≥68%) or equivalent; You have a good knowledge of English, both spoken and written.


We offer a position as PhD student of 4 years.  Two years will be spent at JRC in Ispra, Italy. The four year period allows you to obtain a PhD. The student work is evaluated every year. A positive evaluation is needed to enroll to the next year of PhD. 

The CDP PhD project will have a total duration of 4 years. The student will follow the doctorate program at the University of Leuven for the first 12 months. Afterwards, the period at JRC will commence with a total duration of 24 months. For the final year the student will return to the university to finalize the PHD. Otherwise the student can spend 24 months at the JRC and then follow the doctorate program at the University of Leuven for the remaining 24 months. For the period at the JRC the student will get the grantholder 20 contract (

Candidates should, prior to the start of the employment contract with the JRC:

  • have the nationality of a Member State of the EU or a country associated to the Research Framework Programmes or being resident in a EU Member State since at least five years and
  • be enrolled in a PhD programme with the Leuven University.

Candidates who are already enrolled in the doctoral study program with the Leuven University for fewer than 12 months can also be considered eligible.

The selected candidate will have not more than 6 months from the request for confirmation of interest in the position, to produce proof of enrolment in the doctoral study program.

The selection will be done in two stages: one at the university and a second one at the JRC.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Tim Verdonck, tel.: +32 16 32 27 89, mail: or dr. Domenico Perrotta at the JRC, mail: 

You can apply for this job no later than October 25, 2021 via the
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  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: October 25, 2021
  • Tags: Wiskunde