PhD Position in Computational Optical Imaging for Retinal Imaging

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Are you seeking an exciting PhD position in a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research field? Do you possess a keen interest in optics, numerical techniques, and biomedicine? If so, we invite you to join our international research group at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8 – 1

Our focus lies in computational imaging with applications to biomedicine. Through the integration of advanced numerical methods with tailored optical imaging systems, we can achieve superior and more cost-effective imaging, along with innovative contrast mechanisms. One remarkable example of this is holographic optical coherence tomography (OCT), which harnesses computational adaptive optics and phase-sensitive contrast to visualize the function of individual photoreceptors, as well as the collective signals of neuronal layers within the living human eye.

As part of this project, we aim to enhance an experimental state-of-the-art holographic optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging system, enabling us to visualize individual neuronal cells within the retina. This work holds immense potential for unlocking new possibilities in ophthalmology and neurology. To be a part of this research, submit your application to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam today. Embrace the opportunity to work in an inspiring academic environment and contribute to the frontier of computational imaging in biomedicine.

Job description

We are looking for a motivated PhD candidate to play a pivotal role in the advancement of our imaging system. This role encompasses both hardware development and processing algorithms, taking the system from technical samples to in vivo human data. The research will take place at VU in Amsterdam.

Your duties

  • designing, setting up, and aligning (holographic) imaging systems, particularly for imaging living human eyes
  • devising and implementing software and algorithms to facilitate data acquisition, reconstruction, and extraction of functional data
  • acquiring and evaluating data to ensure accuracy and reliability

As part of this position, you will have the opportunity to showcase your findings at national and international conferences and contribute to publications in relevant journals. Moreover, you will enjoy the freedom to explore and pursue your own ideas and directions within the project’s framework. The ultimate goal is for the successful candidate to produce a dissertation leading to a PhD degree by the end of the 4-year project.


  • a Master’s degree or equivalent in (applied) physics, engineering, or a related field, with a background in optics and imaging
  • proficiency in numerics and programming, preferably in Python, C/C++, or Matlab, with a strong willingness to further enhance these skills
  • an enthusiastic interest in medicine, physiology, and biology, and a keen desire to explore the applications of optics within these domains
  • effective communication skills in English, both spoken and written
  • a passion for creative work and a willingness to experiment with novel concepts and ideas

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,539 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance)
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.

About the Department of Physics and Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at VU Amsterdam offers an active and engaged intellectual community composed of researchers from around the world. Research is focused on four themes: (i) high-energy and gravitational physics, (ii) quantum metrology and laser applications, (iii) physics of life and health, and (iv) physics of photosynthesis and energy. The department is involved in teaching in the programs Physics and Astronomy (joint degree with the University of Amsterdam), Science Business and Innovation, Medical Natural Sciences (all three BSc and MSc), and the BSc program in Mechanical Engineering (together with the University of Twente). Furthermore, the department has a strong track record in the valorization of its research, including translational research to the clinic (often together with the Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc (on campus), and location AMC), collaborations with industry (e.g. ARCNL), and a thriving startup scene.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload the following content:

  • a cover letter (max. 1 page),
  • your curriculum vitae,
  • recent grades,
  • if possible, a sample of a written report in English.

Deadline for the application is the 31/10/2023. We reserve the right to talk to candidates and fill the position before the deadline.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dierck Hillmann
Position: Associate Professor
E-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: +31 20 598 1566

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