PhD Position on Neural Information Retrieval for Scientific Search

Research / Academic

At the University of Amsterdam (UvA) we are looking for a PhD candidate who is interested in designing and evaluating neural search algorithms in the context of a scientific assistant. This research, at the intersection of information retrieval and large language models (LLMs), will investigate how neural IR and LLMs can be used to pinpoint relevant information within scientific literature.

In contrast to a systematic review search engine, we envision an iterative process in which the assistant will learn from the user’s feedback to refine its representation of the user’s information need and better locate relevant information. Relevant questions include: How can next generation search algorithms support the scientific process? How can we use a LLM to encode queries into effective representations and to refine existing representations? How can we take advantage of a LLM's strong zero-shot performance to modify search results in response to user feedback?

We seek to develop solutions that leverage a combination of human and machine intelligence, expanding human intellect instead of replacing it. This position is embedded in the Hybrid Intelligence Centre, a 10-year project funded by the NWO Zwaartekracht program. Our goal is to design Hybrid Intelligent systems, an approach to Artificial Intelligence that puts humans at the centre, changing the course of the ongoing AI revolution.

Note that this job opening is one of several job openings on the HI page with job openings. You can apply to more than just this one. If you do so, please inform the Hybrid Intelligence Centre’s Project Manager via email of the projects you are applying to.

Tasks and responsibilities:

  • Create, evaluate, and describe search algorithms for finding fine-grained relevant information within scientific documents;
  • Develop algorithms for refining query representations in response to feedback from the user or assistant;
  • Present research results at national and international conferences, workshops and journals;
  • Become an active member of the Hybrid Intelligence consortium and larger research community; collaborate with other researchers, both within and outside the consortium and Informatics Institute;
  • Pursue and complete a PhD thesis within the appointed duration of four years;
  • Assist in teaching activities, such as teaching labs and tutorials or supervising bachelor and master students.


Your experience and profile:

  • A master’s degree in computer science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Information Management, or a closely related field;
  • A thorough understanding of both information retrieval and deep learning;
  • Solid programming skills with experience using Python and machine learning frameworks;
  • A strong academic record and eagerness to tackle complex scientific problems;
  • Ability to work in multidisciplinary teams; and
  • A good knowledge of written and spoken English.

We aim to create hybrid intelligence for everyone; see also the Hybrid Intelligence consortium’s Diversity Statement. To do this, we need an inclusive and diverse team of researchers. We especially encourage people from underrepresented groups to apply for this job.

Salary Benefits:

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 fall/winter 2023 (and can be discussed). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. 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 € 2,770 in the first year to € 3,539 in the last year (scale P). UvA additionally offers an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. The UFO profile PhD Candidate is applicable. 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.

Work Hours:

38 hours per week


Science Park 904