Job description

Accurate and reliable wind forecasts are essential for our society. In collaboration with the data science group in KNMI’s R&D Weather and Climate Models department, you will develop new methods to improve probabilistic forecasts of wind speeds in the Netherlands. This is a supervised learning task that combines observations with forecasts from KNMI’s high-resolution numerical weather predication model (Harmonie-Arome) using statistical and /or deep learning methods. The project particularly focuses on improving forecasts of extreme wind speeds, which have the highest impact in practice.

Your project will be jointly supervised by Dr. Sjoerd Dirksen (Utrecht University), who will be your daily supervisor, and Dr. Kirien Whan and Dr. Maurice Schmeits (KNMI). You will annually meet researchers at Eneco Energy Trade, Port of Rotterdam, and DTN, who all rely on accurate forecasting information. During your PhD, up to 15% of your time will be devoted to teaching duties in applied mathematics. It is preferred to fill the position as soon as possible, but the precise starting date is flexible.


We are looking for an ambitious and collaborative young researcher who has (most of) the following qualifications: 

  • a Master degree in mathematics, computer science, or statistics (or a similar field), which is completed at the time of appointment;      
  • excellent programming skills in Python; prior experience in implementing deep learning methods and working with large data sets in a Linux and/or high-performance computing environment is beneficial;
  • preferably a background in subjects relevant to the research topic, in particular machine learning, probability theory, and/or statistics; a prior exposure to meteorology is beneficial, but not required;
  • strong presentation, scientific writing, and communication skills;
  • a high level of English proficiency.


  • a position for 18 months. In case of good performance and a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of 30 months (4 years in total);
  • a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,541 and increases to €3,247 per month in the fourth year (scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

For more information, please visit working at the Faculty of Science 

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About the organisation

Your PhD research will be embedded in the Mathematical Modelling group of the Mathematical Institute 

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. The Mathematical Institute of the Department of Mathematics organises and teaches the Bachelor’s curricula in Mathematics as well as the (English-taught) Master’s programme in Mathematics and some service teaching in mathematics. The Institute currently comprises about 10 full professors, 20 additional faculty members, 25 PhD students and 10 post-docs, and teaches 500 students. The Institute is internationally recognised for its research in both pure and applied mathematics. It houses the Utrecht Geometry Centre and maintains a long-standing tradition of transdisciplinary collaboration with other scientific fields including, among others, atmosphere/ocean sciences, computational life sciences, mathematical biology, medical and seismic imaging, and theoretical physics. We participate in the university focus areas in Complex Systems and Applied Data Science.

You will collaborate closely with scientists from the data science and statistical post-processing groups at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). KNMI is the Dutch national weather service. The primary tasks of KNMI are weather forecasting, and monitoring of weather, climate, air quality and seismic activity. KNMI is responsible for issuing weather warnings to protect society in the case of severe weather. The post-processing group at KNMI is an active and growing group comprised of 2 scientists, 3 developers, 1 data scientist, a PhD student, and several masters students. The group uses statistical and machine learning methods to improve forecasts of many important weather variables, such as precipitation, wind speed, and wind gusts.

At the Faculty of Science 

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 there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes which work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University 

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 is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do mentality of our people. This lively and inspiring academic environment attracts professors, researchers, and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the University and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international community and wonderfully diverse.

Additional information

If you have any questions that you’d like us to answer, please contact Sjoerd Dirksen 

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Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to external link.


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, then simply respond via the “Apply now” button!
Please enclose:

  • a short motivation letter (at most 1 page);
  • your curriculum vitae, including a full list of grades;
  • the name and e-mail address of at least one senior researcher, who can be contacted for a letter of reference;
  • a sample of your scientific writing, e.g., (a draft of) your master thesis.

Interviews will be conducted between August 22 and 26 via videoconference. 

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone else who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is 15 August 2022.



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