Post-doc | machine learning for the digitization of lignin polyurethane development | Faculty of Science and Engineering | 0.8-1.0 FTE

Post-doc | machine learning for the digitization of lignin polyurethane development | Faculty of Science and Engineering | 0.8-1.0 FTE

Published Deadline Location
22 Aug 31 Oct Geleen

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You are a highly motivated investigator with a PhD degree in data science, computer science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, chemical engineering with artificial intelligence background or equivalent. You are willing to understand the chemical problem. Then is could be your job.

Job description

You will be part of the digiLignin (Digitization of lignin polyurethane development) project that is a collaboration between UHasselt, VITO and Maastricht University.

Lignin, the second most abundant biopolymer on Earth, is considered a promising renewable aromatic macro-polyol to replace the conventional fossil-derived polyols used in polyurethanes (PU). Despite the long history of lignin-PU synthesis, several issues prevent the widespread integration of lignin in PU products: lack of low molecular weight lignin fractions suitable for PU products formulation, and the intrinsic complexity of designing lignin-based biopolymer systems. As a result, lignin integration in PU remains a time-consuming task based on lengthy trial-and-error approaches. 

Digitalization tools are expected to speed-up PU systems design with respect to properties and processes. To do so, structure-property relations and process models must be developed from theory rather than extensive experimentation. The DigiLignin project addresses these challenges of lignin-based PU design by creating a model that could predict the structure-property relationships via a combined Machine Learning (ML, Maastricht University) and quantum mechanical (QM, UHasselt) modelling approach. This ML-QM model will be considered as a robust digital building block to facilitate and speed-up the design of lignin-PU. 

In DigiLignin, the post-doc will use experimental datasets on lignin polyurethanes from VITO as input for the development of machine learning models to predict structure-property relationships. There will also be a close collaboration with the person working on quantum mechanical modelling at UHasselt.

The post-doc will work in the Sustainable Polymer Synthesis group of Associate Professor dr. K. Bernaerts at the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM). The group of Associate Professor dr. Bernaerts works on the synthesis and design of polymer materials with tunable properties exploiting the functionality of biobased building blocks. In order to support and speed up the experimental lab work, there is a growing interest to apply artificial intelligence techniques in our group.

The post-doc will operate from the Chemelot Campus in Geleen, the Netherlands.


Maastricht University (UM)


  • You are a highly motivated investigator with a PhD degree in data science, computer science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, chemical engineering with machine learning background or equivalent. Supported by trained chemists, you are willing to understand the chemical problem of the project partners and translate it to a computational system.
  • You have experience with machine learning and you are fluent in programming with Python.
  • You are motivated to develop new algorithms and methodologies that are fitting for lignin-polyurethane chemistry.
  • The project will be collaborative and interdisciplinary, and will suit an ambitious candidate who likes a fast-paced environment. Excellent knowledge of scientific English for speaking, reading, and writing are required. Knowledge of Dutch is not required.

Conditions of employment

As a Post-doc 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 11 according to the UFO profile Researcher, function level 3 with corresponding salary ranging from € 4.332 to € 5.929 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 0.8-1.0 FTE.
  • As Family-friendly University, 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, the future of agriculture, digitalization, and (scientific) instrument development.  

FSE's leading projects, like the Einstein Telescope Pathfinder, undoubtedly capture everyone's attention.  

The faculty is a vibrant hub of education and research in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), as well as Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS).  

At FSE, over 450 staff members and 3150 students come together to work on exciting interdisciplinary research and educational programs. You are welcome to join our team and put your brilliant mind to work! 

FSE at the Brightlands Campuses 

Maastricht, Sittard-Geleen, Heerlen, and Venlo, home to four creative Brightlands campuses, are vibrant locations where 30,000 entrepreneurs, researchers, and students enthusiastically collaborate on solutions for global challenges. The Faculty of Science and Engineering is active on all four Brightlands campuses, and it is where we have the most impact. To give you an idea of what is happening at each campus: Sittard-Geleen hosts one of Europe's largest chemistry and materials sites, while Venlo is a major hub for agro-food innovation. Maastricht is the location of the Health Campus, and Heerlen is the place to be for smart services. 

The Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM) is a department of the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) at Maastricht University, located on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen. AMIBM is a European cross-border research institute established by Maastricht University and RWTH Aachen University (Germany), focusing on developing advanced biobased materials. The mission of AMIBM is “ground-breaking conversion of biomass to biobased materials and into product applications”. AMIBM promotes excellent multidisciplinary research in the field of biobased materials, by training Ph.D. students with the multiple skills needed to be future leaders in the field, and creating the research breakthroughs that will enable the utilization of sustainable and renewable materials for advanced materials applications. The multidisciplinary team draws together scientists with expertise in molecular and applied biotechnology, organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, polymer physics, polymer engineering, biomedical materials, and sustainability assessment.
AMIBM is embedded in a lively, entrepreneurial, and creative working environment at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen (the Netherlands), one of the largest chemical and materials communities in Europe.

More information:


  • Postdoc
  • Natural sciences
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €4332—€5929 per month
  • Doctorate
  • AT2023.405


Maastricht University (UM)

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Urmonderbaan 22, 6167 RD, Geleen

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