Temporary employment
Master (EQF 7)
Apply before:
Hours p/wk:


The Faculty of Science and the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) are looking for a:


PhD Candidate Multi-Objective Machine Learning for Fair Inspections
Vacancy number: 14363


Join our exciting research project as PhD candidate at Leiden University and become part of the research collaboration AI4Oversight lab which is part of the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence (ICAI).


The Dutch government inspectorates play a critical role in safeguarding public interests such as food safety, a clean environment, fair working conditions or quality of education. To ensure effective supervision with a limited capacity at strategic and operational level, inspectorates need to work in a data-driven way and embed AI technology in their primary processes. The amount of information is too large and complex to be fully covered by human resources. At the same time, society rightly expects AI to be used in a responsible manner.


With joining the AI4Oversight ICAI lab, you join a community that collaborates to address AI challenges specific to the inspection domain leading to scientifically attested methods. The AI4Oversight lab connects the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT), the Netherlands Labour Authority (NLA), the Inspectorate of Education (IvhO), Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Utrecht University and Leiden University. Collaboration between these organisations is seen as an essential element of our lab. Working together allows not only to develop new knowledge, but also to use each other’s expertise, to experiment together, to learn from each other and to bring theory to practice.


The execution of the research will be highly participatory. You will spend time at the offices of funding partners and dive into the practical challenges and way of working of the partners. You will work together with data scientists of the partners, who will contribute with practical experiences and use cases. The AI4Oversight Lab hosts at least 6 PhD students and knowledge exchanges will be held regularly to promote collaboration. We are currently recruiting for 3 PhD positions simultaneously for this lab. We invite you to also check out the other interesting vacancies.


We are looking for an excellent PhD candidate on Multi-Objective Machine Learning to focus on enabling the embedding of fairness and other values in the AI models for prioritizing inspections.

Enabling fair inspections with scientifically attested methods
While AI and machine-learning tools are now commonly available, there is an increasing call from society for these applications to be trustworthy. Trustworthiness entails a variety of Ethical, Legal and Societal Aspects (ELSA), among which fairness, explainability and transparency. The (inspectorate) users need to have control over their algorithmic systems while these are inherently influenced by ELSA aspects. Commonly, ELSA conditions are evaluated post-training while an integration of these conditions in the training process is preferred. Such implementations will have to make trade-offs between the various trustworthy objectives natively and explicitly, thereby improving accommodation of ELSA requirements.


Key responsibilities

  • Conduct original and novel research in the field of multi-objective optimization and machine learning for the modeling of ELSA;
  • Publish and present scientific articles at international journals and conferences;
  • Collaborate with other PhD candidates in the AI4Overisight lab, researchers at the partners’ data science labs, the intended users and other stakeholders.
  • Assist in relevant teaching activities

Selection Criteria
The successful applicant should be a motivated university graduate who is a top performer among his/her peers and has an excellent education and/or research track record proven by relevant experience, publications, etc. The applicant is expected to have:

  • MSc degree in Artificial Intelligence, Data science, Applied Mathematics, Computer science, or related field;
  • Good programming skills in e.g. Python;
  • Solid experience with Explainable Machine Learning and/or multi-objective optimization;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English. Dutch proficiency or willingness to learn is a plus;
  • Ability to work with diverse stakeholders, e.g., industry professionals, academic researchers.

A background check may be part of the selection procedure. As we are selecting multiple positions for this research lab, we may request to consider your application for another research track. We will contact you if we do so.


Research at our faculty
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2.800 staff and almost 6,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together. For more information, see www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/science and www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at


The Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) is the Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science Institute in the Faculty of Science of Leiden University. We offer courses at the Bachelor and Master of Science level in Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, ICT in Business, Media Technology, and Bioinformatics. According to an independent research visitation, we are one of the foremost computer science departments of the Netherlands. We strive for excellence in a caring institute, where excellence, fun, and diversity go hand in hand. We offer a clear and inviting career path to young and talented scientists with the ambition to grow. For more information about LIACS, see http://www.cs.leiden.edu

Terms and conditions
We offer a full-time 1-year term position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary ranges from € 2.770,- to € 3.539,- gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science www.graduateschools.leidenuniv.nl. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

D&I statement
Diversity and inclusion are core values of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.

Enquiries can be made to Dr. Niki van Stein, n.van.stein@liacs.leidenuniv.nl. If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact Anne-Marie Alleblas, email: jobs@liacs.leidenuniv.nl.

Please submit online your application via the blue button in the vacancy. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents, as PDF files quoting [vacancy number]_[Your Family Name]_[document name]:

  • your letter of motivation;
  • your Curriculum vitae;
  • a copy of your Master's diploma and transcripts, include a suffix indicative of the type of degree / transcript (e.g., master, bachelor);
  • a copy of your Master's thesis;
  • If you have accepted or submitted publications, state this in the letter of motivation and list them with bibliographic information (including DOI) in the CV;
  • Two reference letters, including names, affiliation, telephone numbers, and email addresses, who have agreed to be contacted.

Only applications received before January 10, 2024 can be considered.