Postdoc on Proton Structure Studies with Machine Learning (Theory)

Postdoc on Proton Structure Studies with Machine Learning (Theory)

Netherlands 01 Nov 2021
National Institute for Subatomic Physics (NIKHEF)

National Institute for Subatomic Physics (NIKHEF)

State University (Netherlands), Browse similar opportunities


State University
Host Country
01 Nov 2021
Study level
Opportunity type
Opportunity funding
Full funding
Eligible Countries
This opportunity is destined for all countries
Eligible Region
All Regions

The Nikhef organization
Nikhef is the national institute for subatomic physics in The Netherlands. At Nikhef, approximately 190 physicists and 75 technical staff members work together in an open and international scientific environment. Together, they perform theoretical and experimental research in the fields of particle and astroparticle physics. The Nikhef institute is a collaboration between six major Dutch universities and the Dutch Foundation for Scientific Research (NWO). 

 Nikhef participates in large research collaborations, including the ATLAS, LHCb and ALICE experiments at CERN, the KM3NeT neutrino telescope in the Mediterranean, the VIRGO interferometer in Pisa, the Xenon1T dark matter experiment in Gran Sasso, the Pierre Auger cosmic ray observatory in Argentina and the eEDM research programme in Groningen. Nikhef also hosts a group in theoretical physics, and groups for Physics Data Processing and detector R&D, all with good connections to the experimental programs. 

The Nikhef Theory group
The Nikhef Theory is composed by 12 staff members and around 10 postdocs and 15 PhD students. The group has a strong expertise in effective field theories, higher order calculations in quantum chromodynamics, machine learning in particle physics, proton structure determinations, flavor and beyond the standard model physics, and cosmology among other. topics. The group also has strong connections with other national and international groups in theoretical high energy physics, as well as frequent interactions with the experimental groups at Nikhef.

The position
The successful candidate will work on the recently awarded project Unravelling Proton Structure with Hyperoptimised Machine Learning funded by the Netherlands eScience Center. The goal of this project is to tackle long-standing puzzles in our understanding of strong interactions, from the origin of the proton spin to the strange content of nucleons, by carrying out a simultaneous determination of the momentum and spin distributions of quarks and gluons and their fragmentation into hadrons. This research will combine an extensive experimental dataset and precision theory calculations within the NNPDF machine learning framework. Two of the project aims are to optimize the model training by exploiting GPUs and investigating algorithmic strategy to determine model hyperparameters such as network architectures. The successful candidate will be embedded within the NNPDF Collaboration and will closely collaborate with the eScience Center software engineers which will be part of this research project.

Potential candidates should have a strong interest in collider phenomenology and machine learning algorithms and exhibit excellent programming skills. This program offers further networking opportunities and specialized training programs in state-of-the-art data analysis techniques. Close interactions with the local experimental groups, in particular ALICE and ATLAS, is envisaged.

About the group

Excellent software and programming skills, in particular in C++ and Python, are specially encouraged. The ideal candidate has prior expertise with machine learning algorithms, large-scale distributed computing, and/or GPUs. Applicants should have a PhD degree in theoretical or experimental particle physics (or a closely related field) by the time they start their appointment at Nikhef or shortly thereafter.


The candidate will be employed by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The contract has a duration of initially one year with the possibility of an extension to two additional years. The starting date of the contract shall be no later than the 1st of November 2021. She/he will receive a competitive salary. The conditions of employment are excellent and include extra months’ salary payment in May and December. The conditions of employment of the VU Amsterdam can be found at

Qualified applicants are encouraged to apply by clicking the 'Solliciteer' button below. Please be prepared to upload a curriculum vitae and have the email address of two referees ready, who are willing to send a letter of recommendation on your behalf. This position does not have any specific deadline and will remain open until it is filled. Further information on this position can be obtained from dr. Juan Rojo (

 All qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.

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