Analytical and Computational Methods for Mathematical Neuroscience



The Department of Mathematics of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam welcomes applications for 2 fully-funded, 4-year PhD positions in Analytical and Computational Methods for Mathematical Neuroscience. Students will be supervised by Daniele Avitabile, and have a unique opportunity to work in collaboration with a network of international collaborators.

One PhD student will be appointed to work on uncertainty quantification methods for large-scale brain dynamics. The project lies at the intersection between mathematical neuroscience and computational mathematics. We will study and implement numerical methods for spatio-temporal patterns in a novel class of neural field models, which are relevant to understand epileptic seizures, visual hallucinations and short-term working memory. You will be based in the Department of Mathematics at VU Amsterdam, where you will be co-supervised by Svetlana Dubinkina, and will collaborate closely with Gabriel Lord, at Radboud University. The ideal candidate for this project has a passion for numerical methods (numerical analysis, scientific computing) and is keen to make an impact in a novel application for the neurosciences. Previous knowledge of neuroscience concepts is not a prerequisite, but a firm interest in learning about neuroscience models and applications is essential. 

A second PhD student will work on slow-fast analysis for spatially-extended neural fields. Single-cell biophysical neural models are written in terms variables evolving at disparate time scales (typically fast timescales for voltage dynamics, and slow scales for other intracellular processes). Timescale separation has a strong influence on the generation of single-cell neural rhythms, such as mixed mode oscillations or bursting, but much less is known at network level. This project develops slow-fast dynamical system theory and numerics for large-scale neural networks. The ideal candidate has a passion for dynamical system theory and is keen to apply  bifurcation analysis to spatially-extended systems. Previous knowledge of neuroscience concepts is not a prerequisite. The project will be co-supervised by Jan Bouwe van den Berg. International collaborators for this project include Mathieu Desroches (INRIA, Sophia Antipolis, France), Grégory Faye (University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France) and Martin Wechselberger (University of Sydney, Australia).

The preferred starting date for both positions is 1 September 2021, or before. 

The department has a strong desire to hire more female colleagues. Therefore, women are especially encouraged to apply.

Your duties

  • doing research towards writing a PhD thesis
  • teaching tasks (roughly 15% of your time), which typically consist of supervising exercise classes and correcting homework


  • a (prospective) MSc. degree in Mathematics (or an equivalent thereof) with excellent results
  • good communication skills in English


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,395 (at the start) and a maximum €3,061 (in the fourth year). The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 0.8-1.0 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for further 3 years. Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • good paid parental leave scheme


The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

The Department of Mathematics
The Department of Mathematics strives for excellence in research. The department balances pure mathematical research with mathematical research motivated by applications. Researchers in the department are on one hand active at a fundamental and theoretical level, and, on the other hand, work on applications with links to business, the sciences, and societal issues. The department has a strong international research staff with expertise in dynamical systems, geometry and algebra, as well as in stochastics (statistics, data analytics, probability). 


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button by 13 June 2021 and upload: a cover letter, a CV, a list of courses and grades at the MSc level, a (draft) MSc thesis if available, and the names and e-mail addresses of two references. 

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Daniele Avitabile
Position: Associate professor in Applied Mathematics
E-mail: d.avitabile@vu.nl


  • a (prospective) MSc. degree in Mathematics (or an equivalent thereof) with excellent results
  • good communication skills in English


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截止日期 2021-06-13