PhD Student in Systems Neuroscience - Consciousness Research

Faculteit/Dienst:  Faculteit der Natuurw., Wiskunde & Informatica
Opleidingsniveau:  Master
Functie type:  Promotieplaats
Sluitingsdatum:  21 August 2022
Vacaturenummer:  9759


For a collaborative project between the labs of Umberto Olcese (Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Group (CSN), Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences) and Timo Stein (Brain and Cognition Group, Psychology Research Institute), at the University of Amsterdam, we are looking for a highly qualified and motivated candidate to conduct research activities within the context of a project to test key hypotheses of several theories of consciousness in both animal and human models.


Current research in the CSN group focuses on neural mechanisms of perception, multisensory integration, interactions between sensory and memory systems, and conscious representation.

These topics are addressed using a variety of methods, such as ensemble recordings in task-performing subjects, optogenetics, computational modelling and advanced analysis of neural data.


The Brain and Cognition Group focuses on cognitive research aimed at unravelling the mechanisms of perception, action and consciousness. A variety of techniques is used (EEG, fMRI, psychophysics), and attention is paid to develop a better understanding of clinically-relevant findings.


As a PhD candidate, you will work at the interface between these two research groups. We expect that you, at the end of the PhD, will have provided a major contribution to the study of consciousness in the field of systems neuroscience, but with a crucial translational component.


What are you going to do


You are expected to perform a challenging experiment integrating multi-area electrophysiology (with Neuropixels probes) and optogenetics in mice trained to perform a visual discrimination task. You will also be tasked with analyzing the behavioral and electrophysiogical data that you collect. You will have access to state-of-the-art facilities for performing experiments, behavioral training and data analysis.

Furthermore, you will be involved in psychophysics and EEG experiments in humans. Human experiments will be primarily performed by a research assistant, and as a PhD candidate your focus will be on analyzing the collected data. An animal facility, facilities for performing human EEG experiments, biotechnical and ICT support are available.

Next to these experimental activities, you will participate in educational activities performed at the Faculty of Science, and will also be enrolled in the Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam Rotterdam.


Tasks and responsibilities

  • Complete and defend a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • Plan and perform scientific data analysis and experiments in an independent manner;
  • Critically analyze and interpret results;
  • Take a leading role in writing manuscripts;
  • Present your results at (inter)national scientific meetings;
  • Collaborate with international and local researchers;
  • Participate in the Faculty of Science PhD training programme;
  • Assist in teaching undergraduates and Master’s students;
  • Co-supervise junior scientists (technicians, MSc/BSc students).


What do you have to offer


You are passionate about neuroscience and interested in unravelling the mystery of consciousness in a scientifically solid way. You like a challenge and are excited about performing experiments and analyzing the collected data. You have a strong background in quantitative methods and in neurophysiology. You enjoy working in a diverse setting, as you will be working in a collaborative project on two different locations. Finally, you are a team player and a nice colleague with good communication skills as you will regularly join and present at consortium meetings as well as at relevant (inter)national meetings.


Your experience and profile

  • a Master’s degree, preferably in systems neuroscience or related field; candidates with a quantitative background (e.g. biomedical engineering, physics) and proven experience in systems neurosciences are also welcome;
  • significant experience in in vivo electrophysiology (silicon probes or similar technology) and optogenetics;
  • significant experience in animal training and behavior;
  • experience in computer programming and neural data analysis;
  • preferably: possession of a FELASA B (article 9) license for animal experiments;
  • preferably: experience in human psychophysics and EEG recordings;
  • interest in and affinity for the scientific study of consciousness;
  • excellent analytical, writing and presenting skills;
  • fluency in English, both written and spoken (knowledge of Dutch or willingness to learn is a pre)


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.

The preferred starting date is to be discussed


Your salary will range between €2,541 in the first year to €3,247 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 to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here.


Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park we offer you multiple fringe benefits:

  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime)
  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • a complete educational program for PhD students;
  • multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • partly paid parental leave;
  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • help with housing for a studio or small apartment when you’re moving from abroad.


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 16 research groups that perform excellent research centred on four themes: Neurosciences, Cell & Systems Biology, Green Life Sciences and Microbiology. The positioned offered here will be embedded within the Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Group, which is part of the Neurosciences theme.


Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.




Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:


        tel. + 31 (0)20 525 7968



Job application


If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the button below. We accept applications until and including 21 August 2022.


Applications should include the following information (all files besides your cv should be submitted in one single pdf file):


  • a detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;
  • a letter of motivation;
  • your master thesis from one of your scientific internships and/or literature review;
  • transcript of your BSc and MSc studies, indicating the courses that you took and the grades you obtained
  • the names and email addresses of two references who can provide letters of recommendation.


Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.


The interviews will be held in the course of the first half of September 2022.


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.


If you encounter Error GBB451, reach out to our HR Department directly. They will gladly help you continue your application. 


No agencies please.