PhD Position in Computer Simulations and Machine Learning Soft Matter

Utrecht University Department of Physics


PhD position in Computer Simulations and Machine learning Soft Matter (1.0 FTE)

Job description

We currently offer four European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant funded openings for PhD candidates within the group of Prof Marjolein Dijkstra in the Soft Condensed Matter (SCM) group of the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science in the Physics Department at Utrecht University.

The aim of this project is to study “the rational design of soft hierarchical materials with life-like functionalities using computer simulations and machine learning”. Projects will involve developing coarse-grained models of soft deformable particles (ligand-stabilised nanoparticles, microgel particles, and hydrogels), using machine learning and atomistic simulations, colloidal self-assembly using particle-based simulations, investigating nucleation and kinetic pathways of phase transformations using enhanced sampling techniques and machine learning, rational design of dynamic materials with adaptive, reconfigurable, and shape-shifting properties.


Our ideal PhD candidate is highly motivated and has:

  • a Master's degree or an international equivalent in theoretical or computational physics (or a related field);
  • a strong background in statistical physics, soft matter, and programming in e.g. C or C++, python, LAMPPS;
  • perseverance and an independent, pro-active working style;
  • the willingness to look beyond the borders of his or her own discipline and a strong motivation to work in a multidisciplinary team;
  • excellent collaboration and communication skills (written and verbally) in English.


  • a full-time position for 4 years;
  • participation in the education programme of the Graduate School of Natural Sciences;
  • access to a network of collaborative Researchers within the Debye Institute;
  • a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,395 and increases to €3,061 per month in the fourth year (scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.

About the organization

Utrecht University’s Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science brings together six research groups from the departments of Chemistry and Physics. The central research theme is 'Nanomaterials for Sustainability', supported by three strong, interconnected research pillars: catalysis, colloids and nanophotonics.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes which work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities.We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do mentality of our people. This lively and inspiring academic environment attracts Professors, Researchers and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international community and wonderfully diverse.

Additional information

Interested candidates are welcome to contact Professor Marjolein Dijkstra for further information at

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, please respond via the “Apply now” button, enclosing as a single PDF document:

  • your letter of motivation;
  • your detailed curriculum vitae;
  • your list of grades.

Please also send two letters of recommendation directly to Professor Marjolein Dijkstra at

The start of the appointment is flexible.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change. Initial interviews will most likely be conducted online.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is

In your application, please refer to