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PhD in Quantum-Safe Cryptography

Deadline: Tuesday 31 January 2023
Faculty/Services: Faculty of Science
Educational level: Master
Function type: PhD position
Closing date: 31 January 2023
Vacancy number: 9500

Do you enjoy working in an interdisciplinary research setting on intellectually challenging and societally relevant questions? The Informatics Institute is looking for an ambitious PhD candidate. Your research is part of the NWO-funded research project ‘Quantum Impact on Societal Security’.

As the potential risks and consequences of cybersecurity breaches of existing cryptography by future quantum computers would be devastating, there is an urgent need to prepare for a transition to quantum-safe cryptography (QSC). Addressing the many complexities of this transition requires a multidisciplinary collaboration of scientists, financial and governmental institutions, and civil society groups. The ‘Quantum Impact on Societal Security’ (QISS) consortium will analyse the technical, ethical, legal and societal impact of this upcoming society-wide transition. QISS’s objective is to contribute to the creation of a Dutch ecosystem where quantum-safe cryptography can thrive, and mobilize this ecosystem to align technological applications with ethical, legal, and social values.

QISS is a project led by the University of Amsterdam and carried out together with QuSoft, Fontys University of Applied Sciences and other academic, governmental, financial, and societal partners. The project leader is Dr. Sebastian De Haro and the co-PIs are Prof. Dr. Christian Schaffner, Prof. Dr. Sonja Smets, Dr. Ot van Daalen, Prof. Dr. Joris van Hoboken, Dr. Bart Wernaart, and Prof. Dr. Jeroen van Dongen.

QISS is funded by the National Science Agenda of NWO, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Dutch Banking Association. You will be part of a new research group, hosted at the Amsterdam Science Park.

We specifically encourage women and other underrepresented groups to apply for this position.

What are you going to do

Your PhD will be supervised by experts at the Informatics Institute, in collaboration with the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation and Rathenau Institute. You will be part of the Amsterdam quantum hub bringing together top scientists, engineers, students, and businesses, and be an active member of the Dutch quantum community. At QISS, you will work closely together with another PhD candidate, two postdocs, and the project’s (co-)PIs. You will also work together with financial institutions (the Dutch Banking Association, De Nederlandsche Bank and ABN-AMRO) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Your specific tasks will include:

  • identifying information-processing systems and devices where (public- and private-key) cryptography is currently in use. This can be in hardware (smart cards, laptops, desktop computers, servers, telecommunication infrastructure including mobile phones, internet of things) or software (operating systems, web-servers and browsers, crypto currencies, etc.);

  • creating an inventory of systems, people, branches of business, etc., that will be affected by the presence of attackers with sufficiently powerful quantum computers to break established cryptography;

  • identifying the kind of information that is secured by the identified systems and how long the data needs to be protected;

  • determining the consequences when the identified systems are no longer secure;

  • determining how technically difficult and costly it will be to change the identified systems to quantum-safe cryptography;

  • performing a study of the economic impact QSC, incorporating key information from the financial and governmental sectors;

  • writing academic publications in peer-reviewed international journals;

  • presenting at conferences;

  • organizing meetings with partners.

As the PhD student in the first work package of QISS, you will be the consortium’s point of communication, on the more technical side, with our financial and governmental partners, as well as with other Dutch and international researchers currently working on this topic.

PhD candidates furthermore are expected to contribute to the institute’s educational mission, e.g., by working as teaching assistants for courses in their area of expertise and by assisting with the supervision of student research projects.

What do you have to offer

Your experience and profile:

  • MSc in a relevant discipline, such as Mathematics, Computer Science or Information Science;

  • an excellent academic record;

  • an interest in the economic and societal aspects of technology;

  • good social and organisational skills;

  • interest in working in an interdisciplinary team that includes partners from academia, business, and government;

  • professional command of English.

While Dutch speaking skills are not required for this position, PhD candidates have the opportunity to attend a Dutch course.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). The preferred starting date is 1 March 2023. This 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 gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,443 to € 3,122 (scale P). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

About us

The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is the Netherlands’ largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 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 mission of the Informatics Institute (IvI) is to perform curiosity-driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. The main research themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science and Systems and Network Engineering. Our research involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on collaborative, data driven, computational and intelligent systems, all with a strong interactive component.

QuSoft is the Dutch research Center for Quantum Software, a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI). Its mission is to explore and develop uses of quantum computers and other quantum technologies, for the benefit of society. The researchers at QuSoft develop algorithms, software and applications that exploit the extraordinary power of quantum computers based on their quantum mechanical properties, such as superposition, interference and entanglement. That requires fundamentally different techniques and approaches from those used to develop conventional software.

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


Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

Job application

If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the button below. We accept applications until and including 31 January 2023. The reviewing process will begin on 31 January 2023 and will continue until the position is filled.

Applications should include the following information (all files should be submitted in one single pdf file using the CV field, please do not submit a separate document with a cover letter):

  • a detailed curriculum vitae (CV) including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;

  • a cover letter of at most two pages, in which you specify the motivation for your application;

  • a list of all Master-level courses you have taken, with an official transcript of grades;

  • a link to a writing sample available online, such as a Master’s thesis, a term paper, or a publication (in case of joint authorship, please clearly indicate your own contribution);

  • the names and email addresses of two or (at most) three people we can contact for letters of reference for you.

You can apply online via the link below.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for (online) interviews in February 2023.

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.

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.