PhD Position in Physics of Biological and Complex Systems

Faculty/Services:  Faculty of Science
Educational level:  Master
Function type:  PhD position
Closing date:  28 February 2023
Vacancy number:  11081

Are you interested in physics of biological systems, statistical physics, fluid mechanics, and polymeric materials? Do you want to develop new experimental techniques and collaborate with biologists and theoretical physicists to explore the physics of active materials?

We are looking for a highly motivated and creative PhD student to join our team effort to explore the physics of biological systems far-from-equilibrium. In this PhD project, you will work on various aspects of hydrodynamics, optical diagnosis, and statistical physics to study the fundamental aspects of phase transition and glassy dynamics in complex biological and polymeric materials. You will design and build non-standard experimental tools based on methods like Optical Tweezing, Optical Coherence Tomography, Confocal Microscopy, Holographic Microscopy, etc., to study rheology, fluid mechanics and phase transition in biological and polymeric materials. You will also closely collaborate with the other biophysicists in the team and the biologists and theoretical physicists from other groups and universities.

Candidates with interests in interdisciplinary sciences with previous experience in an experimental lab (imaging, fluid dynamics, biophysics, instrumentation, rheology, optics, microscopy, or similar), programming (Python, Matlab, …), and data analysis in physics or biophysics are highly encouraged to apply.

What are you going to do?

  • Design and build non-standard optical, rheology and fluid mechanics experimental tools to study glass transition and phase transition in biological and polymeric materials
  • Develop new hydrodynamic and statistical physics models
  • Present your results at international workshops and conferences
  • Participate actively in scientific discussions between research groups in the Institute of Physics (e.g., Soft Matter Group and Computational Soft Matter Group) and work collaboratively with national and international collaborators
  • Publish in high level international journals
  • Take part in supervision of Bachelor and Master students

What do you have to offer?

We are looking for a candidate with:

  • A creative, curious and driven nature
  • A MSc degree in one of the followings fields: physics, mechanical or chemical engineering, applied mathematics, fluid dynamics, or experimental (micro)biology with a physics background
  • Previous experience in an experimental lab: imaging, image processing, fluid dynamics, biophysics, optics, or similar
  • Demonstrated interest in the interplay between physics and biology
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English
  • Demonstrated experience with programming (Python, Matlab, …) and data analysis in physics or biophysics.”

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). The preferred starting date is as soon as possible. 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 gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,541 to € 3,247 (scale P). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants.The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

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) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • a complete educational program for PhD students;
  • multiple courses on topics such as leadership for academic staff;
  • 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;
  • the possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • 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.

Are you curious to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here.

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 Institute of Physics (IoP) of the University of Amsterdam is located in the center of the Amsterdam Science Park. The IoP – as part of the Faculty of Science –is housed in a modern building with excellent labs and technical facilities. Surrounded by several national research institutes and with our partners at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam, the institute is part of a strong physics center of international standing.

The Van der Waals – Zeeman Institute for Experimental Physics (IoP-WZI) is part of the IoP and home to three research clusters: Quantum Gases & Quantum Information (QG&QI), Quantum Materials (QMat), and Soft Matter (SM). For more information about Dr. Mazi Jalaal’s research group see

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

Any questions?

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

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 28 February 2023. Applications will be processed on a rolling basis, and the position will remain open until a suitable candidate has been identified.

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

  • A motivation letter (max 1 page) that explains why you are specifically interested in this position
  • A detailed curriculum vitae, including list of grades
  • A pdf version of your MSc thesis (or if not finalized yet, an abstract)
  • If applicable, pdf versions of your scientific publications
  • The name and email address of at least two referees. The referees will ONLY be contacted if you are shortlisted. The recommendation letters should be sent to

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

The interviews will be held in the course of February and March 2023 or until the position is filled.