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

Research / Academic

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.


  • 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.

Salary Benefits:

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

Work Hours:

30.4 - 38 hours per week


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