Postdoctoral Researcher on SNN Robot Control at the Donders Centre for Cognition (1.0 FTE)

Updated: about 1 month ago

  • Employment: 1.0 FTE
  • Maximum gross monthly salary: € 5,127
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Required background: PhD
  • Duration of the contract: 1 year and 10 months
  • Application deadline: 9 May 2021

We are looking for

The department of AI at the Donders Centre for Cognition (DCC) is recruiting two postdoctoral researchers on a new project called SPIKEFERENCE, co-funded by the Human Brain Project. They will work under the supervision of Assistant Professor Pablo Lanillos, Associate Professor Serge Thill and Full Professor Marcel van Gerven.

The SPIKEFERENCE project aims to control industrial robots with spiking neural networks using neuroscience-inspired algorithms (deep active inference), providing adaptation and conditional hierarchical problem-solving. The outcome of the project will be a step forward in brain-inspired computational models, both theoretically and experimentally, bridging the gap between low-level control and neurosymbolic approaches, contributing to major challenges within the Human-Brain Project, such as the development of neuroscience-driven adaptive cognitive architectures, and providing novel spike-driven closed-loop controllers that can be deployed in real robots.

You will develop SNN models for robot control, inspired by our current deep active inference algorithms and SNN controllers, assess and validate them against current predictive coding SNNs models, and demonstrate the networks on the Neurorobotics platform, from a simple proof of concept in basic environments to initial control of a UR5e.

You will work in close collaboration with your supervisors, other postdoctoral researchers and a PhD candidate. Furthermore, you will join an exciting and vibrant young team of experts in machine learning, artificial intelligence and neurocomputing. As we support the Human Brain project's equal opportunities policy, we strongly encourage submissions from various representative minorities.

We ask


  • A PhD in a relevant discipline.
  • Good mathematical skills.
  • Good knowledge of spiking neural networks.
  • Good knowledge of robot control (simulated or real).


  • Familiarity with the Nengo Engineering Framework.
  • Familiarity with deep active inference and/or predictive coding.
  • Previous experience with the UR5/UR5e platform.
  • Previous experience with ROS.

We are

You will join the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour and the Department of Artificial Intelligence at Radboud University (Nijmegen, Netherlands). You will have the opportunity to collaborate and interact with renowned experts in the fields of artificial intelligence, psychology and neuroscience and benefit from an exciting expanding research environment around the newly started ELLIS Nijmegen unit.

The Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour is a world-class interfaculty research centre housing more than 700 researchers devoted to understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of the human mind. Research at the Donders Institute is focused on four themes: 1. Language and communication , 2. Perception, action and control , 3. Plasticity and memory , 4. Neural computation and neurotechnology . Excellent, state-of-the-art research facilities are available for the broad range of neuroscience research that is being conducted at the Donders Institute. The Donders Institute has been assessed by an international evaluation committee as excellent and recognised as a 'very stimulating environment for top researchers, as well as for young talent'. The Donders Institute fosters a collaborative, multidisciplinary, supportive research environment with a diverse international staff. English is the lingua franca at the Institute.

The Department of Artificial Intelligence focuses on the development of human-like AI systems and new intelligent technology to improve human-machine interaction. Our group investigates computational principles underlying natural intelligence and uses these principles to develop more capable and efficient intelligent machines. The department is responsible for the highly successful educational programme in cognitive AI, which currently hosts about 600 AI students and is one of the initiators of Radboud AI, which aims to develop the next generation of responsible AI systems. The department also operates the RobotLab which hosts several state-of-the-art platforms, including humanoid robots (Pepper, Nao) and industrial arms (UR5e), and has significant computational resources at its disposal for developing deep learning models and simulating spiking neural networks, including GPU clusters and Nengo BrainBoard FPGAs.

Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 22,000 students and 5,000 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!

We offer
  • Employment: 1.0 FTE.
  • A maximum gross monthly salary of € 5,127 based on a 38-hour working week (salary scale 11 ).
  • The exact salary depends on the candidate's qualifications and amount of relevant professional experience.
  • In addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • Duration of the contract: fixed term: 1 year and 10 months (until 31 March 2023).
  • The intended start date is 1 June 2021.
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services . Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment  and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Have a look at our excellent employment conditions . They include a good work-life balance (among other things because of the excellent leave arrangements), opportunities for development and a great pension scheme.

Would you like more information?
For more information about this vacancy, please contact:
Serge Thill, Associate Professor

Pablo Lanillos, Assistant Professor

Apply directly

Please address your application to Serge Thill and submit it, using the application button, no later than 9 May 2021, 23:59 Amsterdam Time Zone.   

Your application should include the following attachments:

  • Letter of motivation.
  • CV with details of two referees who have agreed to provide a reference.

We drafted this vacancy to find and hire our new colleague ourselves. Recruitment agencies are kindly requested to refrain from responding.

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