Postdoc: Developing Text Mining methodologies for Public Health and behavior, needs and suggestions of professionals and citizens

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: ;

Do you have a PhD in Computational Linguistics or related? Would you like to develop text mining methodology, and improve the public health research, policy advice and communication of RIVM? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).
FTE: 0.8 - 1
Job description
The project you are working on as a postdoctoral researcher, is part of a research project funded by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Our goal is to use text mining methodologies to enable systematic insight in suggestions from citizens and professionals on specific RIVM themes. You work partly at the Social AI research group at VU, and partly at the National Coordination Centre for Communicable Disease Control (LCI) of RIVM. We offer you the opportunity to further develop your research skills, with a rich data infrastructure and the relevant expertise and guidance in the group. You get to apply Natural Language Processing (NLP) in practical use cases of RIVM, including end user evaluations.
Every day RIVM receives hundreds of questions, comments and suggestions of citizens and professionals about the various topics that RIVM deals with. These many questions, comments and suggestions have the potential to provide RIVM with relevant societal feedback loops to better adapt its work to societal needs. As a postdoctoral researcher on this project, you set out to develop and validate text mining methodology, both supervised and unsupervised. Your methodologies are applicable to different data sources (including Social Media and internal platforms), themes and user groups (e.g.: citizens and health professionals). The predictions need to be presented in a suitable way to the envisioned end users: researchers, policy makers, medical doctors and communication experts at RIVM. These methods may target attitudes, beliefs, sentiments, needs, suggestions and experiences of professionals and citizens. At the end of the project, a multidisciplinary RIVM team may use them to support and enhance RIVM research, policy advice and communication. We also intend to publish our research results in international peer-reviewed (open access) journals.

Your duties

  • doing high-quality application-oriented research and publish this research in international conferences with a focus on NLP
  • contributing to text mining education for staff members at RIVM
  • developing (re-)usable text mining code and tools
  • you hold, or will soon hold, a PhD degree in data science, computer science, artificial intelligence, information retrieval, computational linguistics, or a related field
  • you have experience with applying Natural Language Processing
  • you have a strong research potential, preferably evidenced by publications
  • you have an interest in the application domain, i.e., public health and health communication
  • you are proactive and a good communicator; creative and engaged
  • you have the ability to work independently and in a team
  • you can work together well with project members that have different expertise
  • you are a fluent speaker / writer of English
What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,960 (scale 10) and a maximum €4,670 (scale 10), depending on your education and experience. 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 total duration of 2.5 years

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

You will have a (physical) workplace both at RIVM (in Bilthoven) and at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. 

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 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 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
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.

About the department, institute, project

The VU Department of Computer Science has approximately 200 staff members, including approximately 110 PhD students. Lecturers form a critical and essential basis for the functioning of the department, providing foundational education that helps determine the future of our students.

Our research and our students are diverse, covering disciplines such as Social sciences, Humanities, Economics, and Bioinformatics. Currently, we offer programs in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Information Sciences (BSc and MSc), and Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (MSc), with a total of around 1000 new students each year.


The National Coordination Centre for Communicable Disease Control (LCI) coordinates the control of infectious diseases and is responsible for rapid and efficient communication about outbreaks nationally and regionally throughout the Netherlands. In the event of an outbreak, the centre is responsible for the scientific advice on outbreak control measures to the government and for implementation by health professionals.

The centre contributes to setting up and maintaining the professional network for the prevention of infectious diseases, including expertise from the Community Health Services, care institutions, primary healthcare and occupational healthcare professionals. A key task is managing subsidies for infectious disease prevention. In addition, the centre is responsible for the medical aspects of the National Immunisation Programme, neonatal screening and screening of pregnant women.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until


We strongly encourage women to apply. If equally qualified, we will choose for a female candidate.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

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

Name: Dr. Florian Kunneman
Position: Assistant Professor
Telephone: +31 20 5984452

Relocation support

If you have any questions regarding moving to Amsterdam, and working at VU Amsterdam, you may contact:

Name:     Wytske Siegersma
Position:  Relocation Advisor

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