PhD Position in Applied Probability Theory (1.0 FTE)

Hours per week: 
38 to 40
Faculty of Science
Department of Mathematics, Mathematical Institute
Application deadline: 

Job description

As a PhD candidate you will conduct research in the exciting area of high-dimensional probability theory under the supervision of Dr Sjoerd Dirksen. There are several research topics available connected to randomized data dimensionality reduction methods, mathematical signal processing, high-dimensional covariance estimation, and the mathematical foundations of machine learning. Your PhD project will be fixed based on your background and preferences. During your PhD, up to 15% of your time will be devoted to teaching duties in applied mathematics. It is preferred to fill the position as soon as possible, but the precise starting date is flexible.


We are looking for an ambitious and collaborative young researcher who:

  • has, at the time of appointment, completed a Master degree in mathematics, theoretical computer science, or statistics;
  • has a strong track record, as evidenced by excellent grades and an outstanding Master thesis;
  • preferably has a background in subjects relevant to the research topics, in particular probability theory, continuous optimization theory, functional analysis, mathematical signal processing, and/or machine learning;
  • possesses strong presentation, scientific writing, and communication skills;
  • has a high level of English proficiency.


  • A position for 18 months. In case of good performance and a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of 30 months (4 years in total);
  • a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,395 and increases to €3,061 per month in the fourth year (scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (CAO));
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow. 

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.

About the organisation

Your PhD research will be embedded in the Mathematical Modelling group of the Mathematical Institute. The Mathematical Institute of the Department of Mathematics organises and teaches the Bachelor's curricula in Mathematics as well as the (English-taught) Master's programme in Mathematics and some service teaching in mathematics. The Institute currently comprises about 10 full professors, 20 additional faculty members, 25 PhD candidates and 10 post-docs, and teaches 500 students. The Institute is internationally recognised for its research in both pure and applied mathematics. It houses the Utrecht Geometry Centre and maintains a long-standing tradition of transdisciplinary collaboration with other scientific fields including, among others, atmosphere/ocean sciences, computational life sciences, mathematical biology, medical and seismic imaging, and theoretical physics. We participate in the university focus areas in Complex Systems and Applied Data Science.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes which work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do mentality of our people. This lively and inspiring academic environment attracts professors, researchers and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the University and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international community and wonderfully diverse.

Additional information

If you have any questions that you’d like us to answer, please contact Sjoerd Dirksen via

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, then simply respond via the “Apply now” button!

Please enclose:

  • a short motivation letter (at most 1 page). In your letter, please specify your preferred research topic and outline your qualification for it;
  • your curriculum vitae, including a full list of grades;
  • the name and e-mail address of at least one senior researcher, who can be contacted for a letter of reference;
  • a sample of your mathematical writing, e.g., (a draft of) your master thesis.

Interviews will be conducted between August 31 and September 9 via video conference.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone else who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is 23 August 2020.