PhD Position on Emergent Transitions in Non-equilibrium Dynamical Systems

PhD Position on Emergent Transitions in Non-equilibrium Dynamical Systems

Published Deadline Location
17 Apr 15 Jun Amsterdam

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Job description

Are you a highly motivated student with a strong interest in understanding the nature of emergent transitions in non-equilibrium dynamical systems? We are seeking an excellent and ambitious PhD candidate to carry out theoretical interdisciplinary research to understand emergent transitions in a broad class of non-equilibrium systems, especially active and externally driven systems.

Despite encouraging theoretical advances in non-equilibrium statistical physics, understanding emergent transitions in non-equilibrium dynamical systems remains challenging due to lack of a general statistical thermodynamic framework. Particularly, for active systems driven by local injection of energy, the dynamics and mechanisms of transitions proceeding via rare fluctuations is poorly understood. Here, we propose an interdisciplinary research project which aims at developing a general theoretical framework to address the emergence and the sensitivity of transitions between non-equilibrium steady states in driven systems. To achieve this goal, we will extend the tools of stochastic thermodynamics and large deviation theory to non-equilibrium dynamical systems. Thus, the project will involve an exciting combination of concepts and techniques from mathematics, statistical physics and theoretical chemistry.

You will be embedded in the Foundations and Applications of Emergence (FAEME) research program within the Dutch Institute for Emergent Phenomena at the Faculty of Science of UvA.

You will carry out this interdisciplinary project in a collaborative setting comprised of a highly motivated team of researchers from different institutes within the Faculty of Science. You will be supervised jointly by Profs. Daan Crommelin and Michel Mandjes (Mathematics), Sara Jabbari-Farouji (Physics) and Peter Bolhuis (Chemistry). Building on theoretical and computational expertise in our groups, you will develop and explore the foundations of the theory using simple model non-equilibrium systems, such as an active particle in a double-well potential, and then move towards more realistic models of active polymers driven by molecular motors.

What are you going to do?
You are expected to do original and fundamental research on non-equilibrium dynamical systems combining theoretical and computational tools.

You will:
  • Develop, explore and test the foundations of a theory for emergent transitions in non-equilibrium dynamical systems
  • Develop an approach for sensitivity analysis within the framework and apply to exemplary model systems
  • Attend the weekly seminar and work/discussion day of the Dutch Institute for Emergent Phenomena and participate in the activities carried out by FAEME, including workshops, annual sandpit and help with its organisation
  • Present your results in seminars, international workshops and conferences.
  • Write articles for peer-reviewed scientific journals
  • Take part in teaching efforts, special those related to the Dutch Institute for Emergent Phenomena including the course of "Emergence", as well as supervision of interdisciplinary projects for Bachelor and Master students.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


You have:
  • a creative, curious, and self-driven nature with an interest in interdisciplinary research;
  • A MSc degree in science, preferably in applied mathematics, theoretical or computational physics/chemistry, or a closely related discipline
  • good programming skills;
  • a good background in numerical methods or molecular simulations;
  • an eagerness and capability to learn new techniques and to combine theory and numerical simulations
  • excellent written and oral communication skills in English.
  • good time management skills and take charge of your PhD project
  • A collaborative spirit and capable of working with other team members

Other skills, experiences, and documents that would benefit your application:
  • A good knowledge of statistical physics and/or stochastic processes
  • Some experience with non-equilibrium dynamical systems
  • Some experience with data analysis

Conditions of employment

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 September 2023. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis) in Faculty of Science resulting in a PhD degree granted by the University of Amsterdam. We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) schools. 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.


Faculty of Science

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.

This PhD project will be carried out within the Foundations and Applications of Emergence (FAEME) research program of the Faculty of Science, benefiting from an exceptional scientific environment of an interdisciplinary team of collaborators from Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics, Institute of Physics and Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences. Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €2541 per month
  • University graduate
  • 11486


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Science Park 904, 1098XH, Amsterdam

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