Assistant Professor Artificial Intelligence in Plant & Microbial Biology (1.0 FTE)

Assistant Professor Artificial Intelligence in Plant & Microbial Biology (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
19 Dec 6 Feb Utrecht

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Employ your expertise in Artificial Intelligence to resolve complex biological research questions in plant and microbial biology!

Job description

Do you have experience in computational biology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI), and are you interested in resolving big data-driven fundamental research questions in the green life sciences? Then come and join our new interdepartmental AI Technology for Life group and the Plant-Microbe Interactions group as an Assistant Professor.

The green life sciences research field is increasingly becoming data-driven. Technological developments have resulted in experimental methods producing vast amounts of data (e.g. next-generation sequencing or other omics techniques, high-throughput phenotyping). In the Plant-Microbe Interactions field this includes big data sets from high-density time series RNA-seq, single cell sequencing, microbiomics and metagenomics studies that describe interactions between host plants and their microbiota. Hence, the analysis, interpretation, and integration of different types of big data is becoming more and more complex. To address current and future questions in green life sciences research, it is crucial to invest in novel and powerful machine learning approaches, such as explainable AI, symbolic learning, graph neural networks, autoencoders and/or attention based models, that can help to explain the complex patterns hidden in this data. Such approaches will enable us to address novel, next-level biological research questions. Translation of the developed AI technology and resulting discoveries to the application will contribute to solving real-world problems. Computational biology and bioinformatics are already well developed within the Faculty of Science, but would highly benefit from explainable machine learning methodology. Therefore, a synergistic collaboration between the Departments of Biology and Information and Computing Sciences is established, resulting in the AI Technology for Life cluster within the Faculty of Science.

The AI Technology for Life group focusses on explainable AI, with applications in the Life Sciences. You will be part of the Plant-Microbe Interactions (PMI) team of the department of Biology and of the new interdepartmental AI Technology for Life group, which is affiliated both with the Department of Information and Computing Sciences and the Department of Biology. The PMI team is focused on unraveling the dynamics and complexity of root-microbiome interactions and of gene regulatory networks that steer the plant immune system. You will strengthen these two groups and are encouraged to join forces with other life scientists and computer scientists at Utrecht Science Park to build your independent research group.

As an Assistant Professor you will actively engage in research, teaching, and supervision. You have proven research and teaching skills, and can develop an independent research line at the interface of Plant-Microbe Interactions and AI Technology for Life. At the same time, you are able to connect to, complement, or extend other research themes in the department of Biology, the department of Information and Computing Sciences, and beyond.

To further build our team, we consider it important that you can think critically and creatively and have strongly developed social skills. You have the capacity and interest to develop leadership skills for a future staff position in the Plant-Microbe Interactions group and the AI Technology for Life group.

If you are excited to play a connecting role at the interface of AI and the green life sciences we invite you to apply.


Utrecht University


We are looking for a dedicated, creative, and collaborative scientist who is enthusiastic about working with us to further shape the new cluster. You have a track record in developing machine learning technology and its application in modern life sciences research, which is evident from your publications with impact in international conferences and journals. Your experience allows you to be at ease with diverse types of experimental data: molecular (e.g. DNA/RNA/protein sequences), organismal (e.g. phenotypes of whole plants), and/or other experimental data types. We would also like you to meet the following criteria:

  • a PhD in Computer Science, AI, Data Science or a relevant life sciences discipline with a focus on machine learning;
  • you have research experience in machine learning and handling large (gen)omics data sets;
  • ideally you have research experience or interest in the area of microbial and/or plant biology;
  • you have experience, talent and interest in academic teaching;
  • proficiency in English (speaking and writing) and willingness to learn Dutch;
  • experience with publishing impactful science;
  • a network in your science field and experience with outreach, demonstrated experience and success in acquiring external funding.

Conditions of employment

  • an appointment as Assistant Professor, starting with a fixed term contract. Following a positive evaluation after 18 months, this will be converted in a permanent contract;
  • we offer you a development track during the first 3 years of your employment. We will set goals together and support you to reach these and grow both professionally and personally;
  • a full-time gross salary – depending on previous qualifications and experience – ranging between €3,974 and €5,439 per month (scale 11 at the level of Assistant Professor (universitair docent; UD) according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (CAO));
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.
  • you will be able to co-supervise a funded PhD student, together with the AI technology for Life and Plant-Microbe Interactions groups.

In addition to the employment conditions from the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow.

Are you an international applicant? Then do have a look at what our International Service Desk can do for you. Check the information for international staff and guests for the what and how on living in the Netherlands.

For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

At the Faculty of Science, there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects. For more information, visit working at the Faculty of Science.

You will be embedded within the Plant-Microbe Interactions (PMI) group and within the AI Technology for Life cluster. This newly established cluster is a collaboration between the life sciences institutes and the department of Information and Computing Sciences of the Faculty of Science. The Department of Biology and the Department of Information and Computing Sciences will ensure mentoring for you. You can expect to work in an inclusive, collaborative, and motivating environment with a very creative and international team of PhD students, Postdocs, Tenured staff, and Research Assistants. You will be able to work with scientists who have access to world-class research facilities and the state-of-the-art Utrecht Bioinformatics Center, and you will benefit from our extensive national/international collaborations in academia and industry.

The Department of Biology consists of 12 research divisions, which are organized within two institutes: the Institute of Biodynamics and Biocomplexity (IBB) and the Institute of Environmental Biology (IEB). The department of Biology coordinates the teaching of the Bachelor’s programme in Biology, as well as Master’s programmes and PhD courses that are offered through the Graduate School of Life Sciences. Each Institute promotes the maintenance of a high-quality and interactive research environment.

The Department of Information and Computing Sciences is nationally and internationally known for its research in computer science and information science. The Department provides and contributes to the undergraduate programs in Computer Science, Information Science, and Artificial Intelligence and a number of research master's programs in these fields. It employs over 200 people, soon to be divided into four divisions: Interaction, Algorithms, Data Science & Artificial Intelligence, and Software Systems. 


  • Lecturer; Assistant professor; Associate professor; Professor
  • Natural sciences
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €3974—€5439 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 1202102



Padualaan 8, 3584 CH, Utrecht

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