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Postdoctoral Researcher in Cognitive Computational Modeling

Deadline: Sunday 22 May 2022
Faculty/Services: Faculty of Science
Educational level: Promoted
Function type: Academic Staff
Closing date: 2 May 2022
Vacancy number: 8482

Are you interested in how people represent the word meaning? Are you curious how individual differences affect linguistic communication? Do you have experience in combining computational cognitive modeling and psycholinguistic research? If you are excited about doing this kind of research in an interdisciplinary environment with a team of friendly and enthusiastic colleagues, then you may want to join us as Postdoctoral researcher in cognitive computational modeling of individual differences in semantic representations.

Human interaction involves processing many 'vague expressions,' such as quantifiers, adjectives, and generics. The meaning of these types of linguistic expressions is subject to variability. For example, the adjective 'tall' may mean different heights for different individuals. Successful communication, therefore, requires language users to flexibly adjust to the intended meaning scope of their interlocutors.

We seek a postdoctoral researcher for the project “Sharing vague meanings - from logical theories of meaning towards cognitive interactive models”. The project will study flexibility in processing vague linguistic expressions by taking an individual-differences approach. Specifically, we will investigate how personality traits, linguistic and general cognitive skills, jointly contribute to the successful production and comprehension of vague expressions during communication. For instance, how do they influence the time or the amount of communication it takes to adjust each other's expectations

What are you going to do

The project is highly feasible as it builds our previous research. First of all, we have proposed a computational model capturing various aspects of individual differences in meaning representations and developed an experimental paradigm to test the model predictions [see paper1, paper2, paper3]. The project is part of the Language in Interaction consortium, in particular Big Question 1 and 4. BQ4’s researchers have developed a test battery to measure linguistic and general cognitive skills [see paper]. The postdoc will be led and advised by researchers at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), University of Amsterdam, and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, Radboud University. The researchers coordinating the project include Jakub Szymanik, Robert van Rooij (ILLC, Amsterdam), Florian Hintz, and Antje S. Meyer (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.). The postdoc will be based at the ILLC, joining the research groups led by Robert van Rooij and Jakub Szymanik, and will visit Max Planck Institute regularly.

Your tasks and responsibilities

  • Carry out research as described in the project proposal (to be sent upon request), including developing the computational cognitive model of meaning representations, designing and running online behavioral experiment, and analyzing the experimental data;

  • present and publish at key international conferences and in leading journals;

  • contribute your expertise to joint research projects within the research groups;

  • participate in and contribute to the organization of research activities and events at the ILLC, such as workshops and colloquia;

  • make a small contribution to the ILLC’s educational mission, by possibly taking part in teaching and student supervision activities in areas related to your expertise.

What do we require

  1. a PhD in Psycholinguistics, Cognitive Science, or related field;

  2. strong expertise in one or more of these areas: computational cognitive modeling, psycholinguistics, experimental semantics;

  3. experience working on individual differences or formal semantics would be an advantage;

  4. the ability and willingness to work in an interdisciplinary team, with regular exchanges with a group of experts and collaborators;

  5. excellent ability to write and present scientific results in English.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours a week, preferably starting on 1 July 2022 for the duration of 24 months. The position must end by 30 June 2024, regardless of the starting date. You will be employed by the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam and be affiliated with the ILLC.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,846 to €5,230 gross per month (scale 10-11), based on a fulltime contract (38 hours a week). This is 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 for Dutch Universities (CAO NU) is applicable.

What else do we offer?

  • Excellent possibilities for further professional development and education;

  • An enthusiastic, inspiring, and professional academic team;

  • The opportunity to collaborate with leading researchers at both ILLC and Donders.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) is an interdisciplinary research institute at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in which researchers from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanities collaborate. Its central research area is the study of fundamental principles of encoding, transmission and comprehension of information. Research at ILLC is interdisciplinary, and aims at bringing together insights from various disciplines concerned with information and information processing, including computational linguistics, cognitive science, philosophy, computer science and artificial intelligence. ILLC offers an international research environment with world-class faculty in all of its areas of specialization. We are based in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, renowned for its historic system of canals, its laid-back cosmopolitan atmosphere, and its excellent connections to the rest of Europe and the world.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


If you have any questions about the position, please contact Jakub Szymanik,

Job application

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application. Interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis and the position may be filled as soon as a suitable candidate has been found. The deadline to submit your application is 2 May 2022, but the vacancy may close sooner if a suitable candidate is found before this date. You are welcome to get in touch beforehand if you are thinking about applying.

You can apply online by using the link below.

Applications should include the following information:

  • a motivation letter (max 1 page, font size 11), explaining why you are a good fit for this position and including a link to a publication that is relevant to the current project (in terms of content of methodology);

  • a CV (max 2 pages, font size 11), including a list of publications, a link to your PhD thesis and contact details of 2 people who could be asked for recommendation letters.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize 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.

If you encounter Error GBB451, reach out to our HR Department directly. They will gladly help you continue your application.

Application form:

Please note that this newsitem has been archived, and may contain outdated information or links.