PhD: Statistical physics of chromosomes

Research / Academic

Our theory group is a worldwide leader in studying the statistical physics of living systems, ranging from chromosomes to migrating cells and multicellular tissues. We aim to understand the emergent functional dynamics and organization of living systems in close collaboration with various experimental labs. We currently have an opening for an ERC funded 4-year PhD position.

We are looking for highly motivated applicants for a PhD student to strengthen our research team in an interactive and
collaborative environment.

ERC funded Project: Learn4DChromosome
The physical organization of bacterial chromosomes is inherently variable, with large conformational fluctuations both from cell to cell and over time. Yet, chromosomes must also be structured to facilitate processes such as transcription, replication, and segregation. In this project, you will combine data-driven theoretical methods with mechanistic models to unravel the statistical folding of chromosomes. You will use approaches grounded in equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical physics, information theory, and soft condensed matter physics. Your work will be performed in close collaboration with several experimental groups. Finally, you will also play a role in supervising students and the tutorial classes in our teaching program.


  • MSc Degree in Physics
  • Preferably with a background in theoretical physics, statistical, soft or biological physics
  • Experience with using inference/machine learning tools and basic programming is a plus

As a university, we strive for equal opportunities for all, recognising that diversity takes many forms. We believe that diversity in all its complexity is invaluable for the quality of our teaching, research and service. We are always looking for talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This also means that we are committed to creating an inclusive community so that we can use diversity as an asset.

We realise that each individual brings a unique set of skills, expertise and mindset. Therefore we are happy to invite anyone who recognises themselves in the profile to apply, even if you do not meet all the requirements.

Salary Benefits:

We offer guidance and help so you can develop the skills and experience to become an independent scientist. In addition, we offer an intellectually challenging position in a socially engaged organisation. At VU Amsterdam, you contribute to education, research and service for a better world. And that is valuable. So in return for your efforts, we offer you:

  • a salary of € 2.770,00 (PhD) and maximum € 3.539,00 (PhD) gross per month in the fourth year, for a full-time employment
  • The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.

We also offer you attractive fringe benefits and arrangements. Some examples:

  • A full-time 38-hour working week comes with a holiday leave entitlement of 232 hours per year. If you choose to work 40 hours, you have 96 extra holiday leave hours on an annual basis. For part-timers, this is calculated pro rata.
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • discount on (and occasionally exclusive access to) theater performances and courses at the Griffioen Cultural Center
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

De Boelelaan 1085