PhD Position in Scalable Modelling and Control of Complex Networked Systems

Wageningen University

PhD Position on Scalable Modelling and Control of Complex Networked Systems

Published on
October 11, 2022

Location Wageningen

We are looking for

Are you a highly motivated researcher and excited by interdisciplinary research on developing new modelling and control methods for complex networked systems? Are you passionate about using innovative knowledge from control theory and optimization to tackle challenging problems arising in various applications such as greenhouses, power grids, and water networks?  Then you might consider this exciting PhD position in the Dynamic Systems, Signals, and Control group in the Applied Mathematics Chair Group at Biometris.

The backbone of many modern technological systems is a networked system (system of systems), which has a wide range of applications in agricultural and industrial systems. The systems commonly have nontrivial topological features and complex behaviors that go beyond the ability of the current control design methods. This project aims for scalable and feasible solutions to resolved problems in modelling and control of networked-agricultural and industrial systems. As a PhD candidate, you will study reduced-order modeling techniques that can capture all the salient physical characteristics of complex systems and provide an adequate and lean basis for control and design tasks. Specifically, the PhD candidate will (i) study modeling approaches for complex nonlinear systems in agricultural and industrial applications; (ii) develop low-order approximations of these system models and maintain all the salient characteristics that are necessary for their control and observer design; (iii) utilize reduced-order models as a key building block in designing distributed observers and controllers for large-scale networked systems and apply them to real-world systems.

The research is embedded within the chair group Applied Mathematics which is led by Prof.dr. Peter van Heijster. You will be co-supervised by Dr. Xiaodong Cheng and Prof.dr. Peter van Heijster.

We ask

  • a successfully completed MSc degree in systems and control, applied mathematics, machine learning, optimization, or a related field;
  • fundamental knowledge and academic record in systems control. Experience in model reduction, controller design, observer design, and convex optimalization is desirable. Publications in relevant journals and conferences will be a plus.
  • Experience in computer programming (e.g., MATLAB, or Python) is an essential asset.
  • you meet all the entry requirements of the WUR PhD programme.
For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found  here.

We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our  Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • study leave and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.
In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.
Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Communitypage contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

More information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Xiaodong Cheng, assistant professor, by e-mail:

For more information about the procedure, please contact

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 30 November 2022.
We hope to schedule the first job interviews mid-December 2022.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

The Biometris Group
Biometris, one of the largest groups of quantitative scientists in North-Western Europe, develops statistical and mathematical methods for the quantification of biological processes and processes in our living environment. These methods are applied and validated in practice and are often available as software packages. In addition, we provide education at the undergraduate, Master, PhD, and PostDoc levels, as well as training and consultancy for industry. We cover a wide range of application areas, from gene to ecosystem and from product to production chain. Our goal is to bring quantitative methods to life! Biometris focuses on quantitative descriptions for a range of important life sciences applications aimed at improving the quality of life, including the modelling of cellular processes, crop growth, agents, populations, patterns, ecosystems, social-ecological and socio-technical systems, and various engineered and controlled environments, using different model approaches (involving mathematics, software, and statistics).

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