Graduate Program

The deadline for applications (December 20) has passed. We are currently processing all applications, and expect to sent out invitations for interviews or writing full proposals (for the fellowship PhDs) in early January.

Multiple PhD positions in Gravitation and Astroparticle Physics at GRAPPA/University of Amsterdam

GRAPPA (GRavitation and AstroParticle Physics in Amsterdam), is a new center of excellence of the University of Amsterdam, at the crossroads of the Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek , the Institute for High Energy Physics, and the Institute for Theoretical Physics.

We invite applications for several PhD positions within the GRAPPA program.  This call has two different components:  1) two PhD fellowships for excellent candidates who will define their own PhD research project (within the scope of the GRAPPA program:  see; note that affiliated GRAPPA faculty also can as supervisors) and 2)  defined PhD projects  as listed below on this page.

Candidates must have a MSc degree or equivalent in Physics or Astronomy, or provide evidence in the form of a letter from their supervisor that they will obtain their MSc degree before Autumn 2013.  All applications should include a curriculum vitae, a list of university courses taken with grades, and a single page maximum statement of motivation and research interests.  Candidates for the GRAPPA PhD Fellowships (1) should clearly state the research area and potential supervisors they aim for.  Candidates for specific PhD projects (2) should list which projects they are interested in applying for. More details and instructions can be found below.

Applications should be emailed to, with subject line “Reference, vacancy number 12-261, [name of the applicant]“.  The candidates should also make sure that two letters of reference are sent separately to the same address. The deadline for applying for both specific projects and the PhD fellowship has been extended to December 20, 2012. 

Top candidates for the GRAPPA Fellowships (1) will be invited in early January to write a full research proposal, with guidance from the Graduate Program.  We will invite selected applicants from both components (1,2) for a presentation and interview round in Amsterdam on February 13 and 14, 2013.

Details about the application (FAQs)

What should be included in my application?
A curriculum vitae, a list of university courses taken with grades, and a statement of motivation and research interests (1 page maximum). If you apply for a PhD Fellowship, you include a short summary your plans for a research project and indicate your prospective GRAPPA supervisor.

Where should the application be sent to?
E-mail all your material (preferably in pdf) to, with subject line “Reference, vacancy number 12-261, [name of the applicant]“.

How are the letters of reference to be sent?
The two reference letters should be sent by the writers directly to, with subject line “Reference, vacancy number 12-261, [name of the applicant]“.

Do I have to write a detailed proposal for the PhD fellowships?
A three page proposal only needs to be written after our preselection procedure, and we will contact you for this in early January.

Can I apply for both a project PhD and the fellowship program?
Yes you can. Please indicate in your letter that you are interested in both.

Who is the contact for additional information?
Please contact Dr J. Vink (j.vink “at for general questions and questions about the PhD fellowship program.
For questions about individual projects contact the main supervisor.

How long does a PhD project in the Netherlands take?
A Dutch PhD project lasts for four years. Typically a PhD thesis contains about 4 chapters based on refereed journal papers.

How much do I get paid as a PhD student?
Dutch PhD students are appointed as civil servants and are therefore entitled to all
benefits of a regular employee. The benefits and salaries can be found in the
collective labor agreement document. A PhD students earn a monthly salary according to scale P in table 2.3 of the document (2042 euro in year 1, 2612 euro in year 4). On top of the salary there will also a vacation and end of year payment, together about 16% of your yearly salary.

What is the deadline for applications?
20 December 2012

PhD Projects

NB Please come back regularly as more projects will be posted soon!!

For those interested also interested in astrophysical research projects, have a look at the job’s list at

Title: Signatures of dark matter annihilation in the high-energy sky
Supervisor: Dr Shin’ichiro Ando

Revealing the nature of dark matter is one of the greatest goals of modern physics and cosmology. In promising models of dark matter, self-annihilation of dark matter particles can occur, producing observable gamma rays and imprinting characteristic signatures on the sky. The goal of this project is to theoretically model the annihilation signals from various regions of the sky, ranging from small-scale structure such as dwarf galaxies to the large-scale structure started forming shortly after Big Bang. These models are used to make the best strategy to discover dark matter in the sky.

Title: High-energy gamma rays and neutrinos from extragalactic astrophysical sources
Supervisor: Dr Shin’ichiro Ando

The Universe is full of astrophysical sources that show violent activities, especially around supermassive black holes in central regions of galaxies. A forefront of understanding these sources is led by experimental projects of high-energy gamma rays (e.g., Fermi, CTA) and neutrinos (e.g., IceCube, KM3NET). Theoretical modelings of the astrophysical processes around black holes and predictions for these experiments are the main goal of this project. Direct consequence will be better understandings of physics around black holes, but this could also have implications for dark matter searches as well as test of general relativity.

Title: The particle acceleration properties of clusters of galaxies
Supervisors/Research team: Drs Jacco Vink, Shin’ichiro Ando, Michael Wise, Ralph Wijers

Clusters of galaxies are the largest bound structures in the Universe, and consist of dark matter, hot (10^7-10^8K) tenuous plasma and, of course, thousands of galaxies. Clusters still accrete material from the intergalactic medium, leading to shocks in the intracluster medium, but also AGN lead to shocks and form a source of relativistic electrons and protons. For this project we want to investigate the properties of cluster shocks, which although high speed (> 1000 km/s) are low Mach number shocks (M<3). This investigation will be a combination of theoretical study and observations based on Fermi-satellite data.

Title: Connecting Quantum Gravity to Observation
Supervisor: Dr. Ben Freivogel
There is a missing link in connecting quantum gravity to observation. This missing link  prevents us from answer basic questions like
- What will happen if we fall through the horizon of a large black hole?
- What determines the initial conditions for the visible universe?
String theory, the most successful candidate theory of quantum gravity, is not yet able to answer these questions. String theory computes observables defined at asymptotic infinity in spacetimes with negative or zero cosmological constant, while we are stuck in a cosmological spacetime with positive cosmological constant. Despite the difficulty of the problem, several concrete, tractable lines of research are available that will allow us to make progress.
Title: Dark matter searches at the LHC
Supervisor: Dr David Berge

If the dark matter of the universe is a new particle that can be produced in pairs in proton-proton collisions at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), it may be found in analyses involving missing transverse momentum. The student will work on a search for new physics in events with missing transverse momentum at the ATLAS experiment, focussing on the dark matter context. She or he is given the opportunity to spend time at CERN in Switzerland to work on this analysis and participate in experiment operations and preparations for higher-energy LHC running in 2015.

Title: Towards measuring very-high-energy gamma rays with CTA
Supervisor: Dr. David Berge

The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is a planned facility for measuring gamma rays from space up to energies exceeding 100 TeV. The student will participate in hardware preparations and/or simulation studies for the starting phase of CTA. She or he will analyse first data during the construction phase as soon as they are recorded, focussing on Galactic sources of gamma rays, either in the context of particle dark matter or particle acceleration in our Galaxy.

Title: Asymmetric Dark Matter
Supervisors: Dr. Marike Postma (Nikhef); Local UvA info: Dr. Gianfranco Bertone, Dr. Patrick Decowski

A striking feature of our universe is that the dark matter density today is rather close to the baryon density, suggesting that these relic densities have a common origin. Models of asymmetric dark matter implement this idea by generalizing the notion of baryon number to a conserved quantum number shared by both baryons and dark matter particles, which can be done by extending the symmetries of the standard model and (hidden) dark matter sector. The goal of this project is to further develop models of asymmetric dark matter and study their possible experimental signatures.