PhD Position in Transport Optimization

VU University of Amsterdam Department of Mathematics

Do you have deep knowledge of stochastic models and optimization techniques and have strong data-analytics and programming skills? And do you want to apply your results in practice and in collaborating with our industry partners? Then please apply for this PhD position at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).


FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

The Department of Mathematics of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam welcomes applications for a fully-funded, 4-year PhD position on the subject of AI-Boosted Integrated Production and Transport Optimization.

In many industries, production and transport are nowadays closely intertwined. Therefore, failing to properly synchronize the production and transport schedules often leads to excessive production and transportation costs. Moreover, it leads to extra CO2 emission of both production and transport. To address this common practical problem, the goal of this project is to

  • develop quantitative models and solution methods for optimal integration of production and transport schedules that are fast, efficient, scalable, and robust against the omnipresence of uncertainty in the processes
  • design and develop a Proof-of-Concept implementation of the algorithms that are validated in the compound feed industry as a use case

An important aspect of this project is its close connection to practice. The project will be done in close collaboration with three industry partners which are active in the compound feed industry:

  1. Engie, a technology provider that partly operates in the animal feed industry
  2. Fransen Gerrits, which owns and operates compound feed factories
  3. BlueRock Logistics, a transport optimization planner

To secure the optimal alignment of the academic research and its applicability, the PhD student will spend on average one day per week at the premises of Engie in Zaandam (close to Amsterdam).

Your duties

  • doing research towards writing a PhD thesis on the subject of AI-Boosted Integrated Production and Transport Optimization
  • teaching tasks (roughly 15% of your time), which typically consist of supervising exercise classes and correcting homework


You are required to have:

  • a Master’s degree in Operations Research, Applied Mathematics or a related discipline
  • deep knowledge of stochastic models and optimization techniques and have strong data-analytics and programming skills
  • a real interest in the application of the results in practice and in collaborating with our industry partners
  • preferably proven research talent, an excellent command of English, and good academic writing and presentation skills.

Proficiency in the Dutch language is not mandatory but preferred.

The starting date is as soon as possible but 1 September 2021 at the latest. 

We especially encourage female applicants. In the case of equal suitability of candidates, preference will be given to a female candidate. 

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,395 (at the start) and a maximum €3,061 (in the fourth year). The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 0.8-1.0 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for further 3 years. Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • good paid parental leave scheme

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.


We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

The Department of Mathematics

The Department of Mathematics strives for excellence in research. The department balances pure mathematical research with mathematical research motivated by applications. Researchers in the department are on one hand active at a fundamental and theoretical level, and, on the other hand, work on applications with links to business, the sciences, and societal issues. The department has a strong international research staff with expertise in dynamical systems, geometry and algebra, as well as in mathematical optimization and stochastics (statistics, data analytics, probability). 


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload: a motivation letter, a CV, a list of courses and grades at the MSc level, a (draft) MSc thesis if available, and the names and e-mail addresses of two references. The recruitment starts immediately and will close once a talented candidate has been found.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions

If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Rob van der Mei
Position: Professor of Mathematics

Name: Joost Berkhout
Position: Assistant Professor of Mathematics