PhD Position in Probability and Statistics Applied to Forensic Science
University of Amsterdam Faculty of Science

PhD Position in Probability and Statistics Applied to Forensic Science

Publication date 13 May 2020

Closing date 15 June 2020

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month

Vacancy number 20-289

The Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics (KdVI) of the University of Amsterdam invites you to apply for a PhD position in forensic statistics. We are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated applicant with a good background in probability and statistics.

The project concerns the use of Bayesian networks (Directed Acyclic Graphs) for evidence evaluation at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI). The PhD student will be positioned at both the NFI and the KdVI.

What are you going to do?

Suppose a fiber is found on a victim that matches the suspect’s sweater. Was the fiber transferred during the crime, or during some innocent activity? Such ‘activity level’ questions are currently being investigated by forensic experts.

The data gathering and evidential reasoning that is necessary to assess the strength of the evidence requires experimental design and probabilistic modelling. Bayesian networks are used to achieve a logical and transparent reasoning and for combining evidence (e.g. glass, DNA, digital evidence). However, there are many open questions concerning e.g. generalisation and robustness of these networks.

As a PhD student, you will work together with forensic experts of the NFI to promote solid evidential reasoning by developing probabilistic methods and their validation. For more details about the project and the position, see the extended project description.

What do we require?

  • An MSc degree in probabilistic methods (mathematics, AI, statistics) or forensic science with a bachelor degree in probabilistic methods;
  • interest in applied statistics/probability and in forensic science;
  • good communication skills;
  • some programing skills in e.g. R, matlab or Python; 
  • fluency in English and Dutch, both written and spoken.

Experience with Bayesian network software is a plus as is experience in teaching.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial appointment will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years) and 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 salary will be €2,325 to €2,972 (scale P) gross per month, based on full-time employment (38 hours a week). These amounts are exclusive 8 % holiday allowance and 8.3 % end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Then find out more about working at the Faculty of Science.

About the Faculty of Science and KdVI

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 6,500, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Korteweg-de Vries Instituut voor Wiskunde (KdVI) is the mathematical research institute of the Faculty of Science. The KdVI offers a stimulating scientific environment in which research focuses mainly within the research programmes (1) Algebra, Geometry and Mathematical Physics, (2) Pure, Applied and Numerical Analysis, and (3) Stochastics. It also provides the lecturers and instructors for the mathematics teaching within the Science faculty and within the national programme Mastermath. The KdVI participates in the NWO research clusters GQT, STAR, NDNS+, DIAMANT, and the NWO-Gravity programmes NETWORKS and the Quantum Software Consortium. There is formal (and informal) collaboration with the Centrum voor Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), the VU University and the financial industry. The KdVI organises popularising activities such as ’Leve de Wiskunde’, Masterclasses and online webclasses. The institute has about 30 faculty members and 40 postdocs and PhD students.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

  • prof. Marjan Sjerps

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

The Korteweg-de Vries Institute strives for a better gender balance in its staff. We therefore strongly encourage women to apply for this position.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your CV and cover letter by 15 juni 2020. You may apply online by using the link below.

Applications should include:

  • a cover letter/letter of motivation (at most 1 page);
  • a curriculum vitae, including a list of courses taken and results obtained;
  • a copy of your bachelor and/or master theses (or similar research-style output);
  • names and contact details of two referees.



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