PhD candidate - hype and public engagement with quantum science and technology

PhD candidate - hype and public engagement with quantum science and technology

Published Deadline Location
24 Oct 5 Dec Leiden

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The Faculty of Science is looking for a:
PhD candidate - Quantum & society: the role of hype in public engagement with quantum science and technology

Vacancy number: 14223

Job description

Project description
Quantum is often framed as ‘spooky’ or ‘enigmatic’ and developments in quantum technology are sometimes narrowly described, while the technology is already envisioned to be ‘disruptive‘ to society. Quantum technologies are an emerging field that promise a wide range of technological advancements and applications. They are currently worldwide subject of speculation and investment. The current communication on the technology is sensitive to hype, to generate excitement about potential new developments and to increase support and trust in society. But hyped communication can be problematic, for example there can be public deception when promises are not met. This PhD project aims at a deeper understanding of the role of hype in public engagement with quantum science and technology. This project is supervised by the PI Julia Cramer, and co-supervised by the promotor Ionica Smeets.

You start the project by a literature review on hype and it’srole on public engagement on emerging technologies such as AI and nanotechnology. You will follow-up with a content analysis determining the amount and form of hype in different forms of popularization of quantum science and technology. Finally, you will develop a real-world experiment measuring the effect of hype on the public acceptance, knowledge and attitude towards quantum science and technology. This work will add to the theoretical knowledge of the role of hype in popularization of emerging technologies and will offer practical advice to the increasing ecosystem of Quantum Delta NL.

This position is funded by the Growth Fund of Quantum Delta NL, a Dutch collaboration that is creating a national ecosystem for excellence in quantum innovation, for highly talented professionals to bring quantum computers, quantum networks and quantum sensors to the market. One of the action lines focusses on the Ethical, Legal and Societal aspects of quantum technology. We are part of this action line, focusing on the societal impact.

The research group ‘Quantum and Society’, led by Julia Cramer, studies the societal impact of quantum technology from a science communication perspective. We are an interdisciplinary group affiliated with the Faculty of Science, connected to quantum physics (LION) and Science Communication and Society (IBL), using methods from the social sciences.

Our research group focuses on studying the boundary between quantum technology and society via:
  • Content analyses of existing communication about quantum science and technology such as outreach by experts, media coverage, and policy documents.
  • Development of instruments to measure the attitude and engagement of specific societal groups towards and with quantum technology and their concerns, questions and expectations of quantum technology.
  • Research into the effect of empirically developed interventions on participants in such interventions.

Key responsibilities
In this PhD, you will study the role of hype on public engagement with quantum technology on various aspects as described above. You will publish academic papers on your findings, present your work at academic conferences and partake in outreach. You will spend 20% of your time on the Center for Quantum and Society. You will build your own network and work in and on a new and interdisciplinary research field. You will assist with student supervision and teaching and complete a PhD thesis in four years.


Leiden University


Selection Criteria
Research Master, MSc or similar in (quantum) physics, engineering or computer science, with a specialization or elective courses in science & technology studies, innovation studies, communication research, science communication or other relevant directions;
  • Excellent social skills enabling you to work in a growing interdisciplinary field;
  • Excellent communication skills and fluency in English;
  • Preference for fluency in Dutch language due to the nature of the project;
  • Background or experience in content analysis and qualitative research in social sciences are a big plus.

Conditions of employment

Leiden University
Leiden University is one of Europe’s leading international research universities. Thanks to its committed and inspired employees, the university enjoys a leading role in academic research and education. Leiden also scores very well every year in prominent rankings. This means that, to maintain our position, the bar is set very high. Regardless of the work you do at our university, you are always encouraged to broaden your horizons, develop your talents and reach your full potential.

Research at our faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.
The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,500 staff and almost 6,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

Diversity and inclusion
Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.

Terms and conditions
The starting date of the PhD program is ideally in the first quarter of 2023.
We offer a full-time, one year term position, with the possibility of renewal for an additional maximum of three years based on performance. The salary ranges from €2.770,- to € 3.539,- gross per month, increasing yearly (pay scale P).
Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14223



Rapenburg 70, 2311EZ, Leiden

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