PhD in Trustworthy Conversational AI using FAIR Data and Services

PhD in Trustworthy Conversational AI using FAIR Data and Services

Published Deadline Location
30 Jun 31 Jul Maastricht

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 31 Jul 2023).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

Are you excited by the potential of conversational AI, but remain concerned about their accuracy and trustworthiness? The Institute of Data Science at Maastricht University invites you to join our research team as a PhD student and tackle outstanding challenges in building trustworthy conversational AI for scientific and commercial applications.

Conversational AI such as ChatGPT are at the forefront of recent developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Yet despite their immediate appeal, many fundamental issues remain that challenge the accuracy and trustworthiness of their answers. Such issues include the hallucination of plausible but factually incorrect answers that could otherwise be retrieved from trusted knowledge sources; handling complex queries that require multi-step problem solving using several different knowledge sources; and a lack of explanation for how the system arrived to its answer and a lack of justification in the utility of the facts to derive the answer. Addressing these limitations and challenges requires ongoing research and innovation.

The focus of this doctoral research is to develop new technologies that strengthen the conversational abilities of large language model (LLM) conversational interactions with diverse knowledge sources such as data files, knowledge graphs, and web services. Key research questions include to what extent LLMs can create or interact with FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data and services using AI-based autonomous and data mapping technologies; whether the accuracy and trustworthiness of conversational AI can be satisfactorily addressed through neurosymbolic reasoning imbued with the ability to provide detailed provenance, explanations, and justifications; and whether the application of such technologies to food and biomedicine to make sound, plausible, and well supported recommendations through autonomous discovery science.

We invite you to join our research team as a PhD student to shape the future of conversational AI and contribute to the development of transparent and trustworthy next-generation systems in AI.

Job description

We are seeking a highly qualified PhD candidate to join our research team and pursue groundbreaking research in the field of Conversational AI. The successful candidate will be responsible for developing new techniques and methodologies to enhance the accuracy, precision, and trustworthiness of conversational AI systems. The research will focus on methods and frameworks for knowledge integration, knowledge graph construction, autonomous service interaction, neurosymbolic reasoning and explanation, and human-AI collaboration.

You will be part of one of the 17 new ICAI labs, named GENIUS (Generative Enhanced Next-Generation Intelligent Understanding Systems) consisting of 5 PhD students, who will collaborate to create human-AI knowledge engineering systems to support collaborative knowledge synthesis, integration of distributed knowledge, knowledge-graph and services powered generative AI, neurosymbolic reasoning, and hybrid human-AI ethics. The GENIUS lab will bring together two of the strongest groups on human-AI knowledge engineering in the Netherlands (UM and Delft), with industry partners DSM and, to develop effective and trustworthy generative AI technologies in a variety of contexts including personalized medicine, food system innovation and supply chains.

The GENIUS lab is part of the large LTP ROBUST program “Trustworthy AI-based Systems for Sustainable Growth” consortium, comprising 17 universities, 19 industry partners, and 15 collaborating partners representing diverse stakeholder groups. You will gain valuable experience working with an industry partner, and will be able to tap into a wealth of networking, career development, and training opportunities in conjunction with ICAI, the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence at the University of Amsterdam

This PhD position is embedded in the Institute of Data Science (IDS) led by Distinguished Professor Michel Dumontier, a research unit within the Department of Advanced Computing Sciences (DACS). The Institute consists of full Professors, Associate and Assistant Professors, postdoctoral researchers, software engineers, PhD candidates and master/bachelor students. Members of the Institute work closely together on a day-to-day basis, to exchange knowledge, ideas, and research advancements. We conduct both fundamental and applied research, covering research in Knowledge Engineering, Machine and Deep Learning, Distributed Systems, Natural Language Processing with applications in health, food, law, business, and social science.

The PhD candidate will also benefit from a strong industry and research network such as involvement with a Marie-Curie European International Training Network on Knowledge Graphs (, a COST Action on Distributed Knowledge Graphs (, ODISSEI infrastructure for Social Science and Economic Innovations (, Digital Society Initiative (, Horizon Europe Projects (AIDAVA, REALM, EU-FarmBook, iCARE4CVD), and the NIH/NCATS Biomedical Data Translator.

We expect you to:

  • Perform scientific research in conversational AI, with a focus on integrating FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data and services, improving their accuracy using neurosymbolic reasoning, providing meaningful explanations, and applying these technologies for high impact use cases;
  • Publish results at top-tier (international) conferences and in international journals;
  • Work independently, as well as collaboratively in both research oriented and in applied settings;
  • Assist with educational tasks (e.g., assist labs, supervise Master students and internships).


Maastricht University (UM)


  • M.Sc. degree (completed, or to be completed shortly) in Computer Science, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, or equivalent;
  • Proven programming skills;
  • Demonstrated (e.g., through publications, code, projects, etc.) interest and experience with the field of AI, and at least one of the following fields: data and knowledge engineering, machine and deep learning, and natural language processing;
  • Proficiency in English (oral and written);
  • Excellent communication skills;
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively in a research-oriented environment;

Additionally, we would like it if you have:

  • Experience in data integration, computational reasoning, and conversational AI;
  • Experience in both backend and frontend development;
  • Experience or interest in food systems, supply chains, and the role AI will play in society.

If your profile does not completely meet the above criteria, but you are interested and you want to show us your unique perspective on why you would fit this project, we would still like to hear from you.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 + 3 years.

As a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, you will be employed by the most international university of the Netherlands, located in the beautiful city of Maastricht. In addition, we offer you:

  • Good employment conditions. The position is in grated in scale P according to the UFO profile PhD Candidate with corresponding salary ranging from € 2.541 to € 3.247 gross per month (based on a full-time employment of 38 hours per week). In addition to the monthly salary, an 8.0% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus are applicable.
  •  An employment contract for a period of 12 months with a scope of 1.0 FTE. Upon a positive evaluation, an extension of 3 years will follow.
  • As a holder of the 'Family-friendly University' quality mark, we offer flexible working hours and the possibility to work partly from home if the nature of your position allows it. You will receive a monthly commuting and internet allowance for this. If you work full-time, you will be entitled to 29 vacation days and 4 additional public holidays per year, namely carnival Monday, carnival Tuesday, Good Friday, and Liberation Day. If you choose to accumulate compensation hours, an additional 12 days will be added. Furthermore, you can personalize your employment conditions through a collective labor agreement (CAO) choice model.
  • As Maastricht University, we offer various other excellent secondary employment conditions. These include a good pension scheme with the ABP and the opportunity for UM employees to participate in company fitness and make use of the extensive sports facilities that we also offer to our students.
  • Last but certainly not least, we provide the space and facilities for your personal and professional development. We facilitate this by offering a wide range of training programs and supporting various well-established initiatives such as 'acknowledge and appreciate'.

The terms of employment at Maastricht University are largely set out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local provisions specific to UM apply. For more information, Click here


Maastricht University

Why work at Maastricht University?

At Maastricht University (UM), everything revolves around the future. The future of our students, as we work to equip them with a solid, broad-based foundation for the rest of their lives. And the future of society, as we seek solutions through our research to issues from all around the world. Our six faculties combined provide a comprehensive package of study programmes and research.  

In our teaching, we use the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method. Students work in small groups, looking for solutions to problems themselves. By discussing issues and working together to draw conclusions, formulate answers and present them to their peers, students develop essential skills for their future careers.

With over 22,300 students and more than 5,000 employees from all over the world, UM is home to a vibrant and inspiring international community.

Are you drawn to an international setting focused on education, science and scholarship? Are you keen to contribute however your skills and qualities allow? Our door is open to you! As a young European university, we value your talent and look forward to creating the future together.  

Click here for more information about UM.


Faculty of Science and Engineering

At the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) we focus on themes such as circularity and sustainability, future farming, digitisation and (scientific) instrument development. FSE's leading projects, like the Einstein Telescope Pathfinder, are sure to grab anyone's attention. The Faculty is a vibrant hub of education and research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS). At FSE, over 450 staff members and 3150 students gather to explore exciting interdisciplinary research and educational programmes. Feel welcome, be part of our team and put your brilliant mind to work!

FSE at the Brightlands Campuses  

Maastricht, Sittard-Geleen, Heerlen and Venlo, the homes of four creative Brightlands campuses, are bustling with 30,000 entrepreneurs, researchers and students working diligently to solve global challenges. The Faculty of Science and Engineering is active on all four Brightlands campuses and this is where our impact reaches its peak. To give you an idea of what is happening on each campus: Sittard-Geleen is home to one of the largest chemistry and materials sites in Europe, while Venlo is a large hub for agri-food innovation. Maastricht is the site of the Health Campus, and Heerlen is the place to be for Smart Services.

DACS: The Department of Advanced Computing Sciences is Maastricht University’s largest and oldest department broadly covering the fields of artificial intelligence, data science, computer science, mathematics and robotics. It launched as the joint identity of two Maastricht University research groups: the Institute of Data Science (IDS) and the former Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering (DKE).  

Over 100 researchers work and study in the Department of Advanced Computing Sciences, whose roots trace back to 1987. The Department’s staff teaches approximately 800 bachelor’s and master’s students in 3 specialized study programmes in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. A new bachelor's programme in Computer Science will start in September 2023.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3244 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2023.316


Maastricht University (UM)

Learn more about this employer


Paul-Henri Spaaklaan 1, 6229 EN, Maastricht

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you