EGU logo

European Geosciences Union

PhD student on computational models for lightning physics

PhD student on computational models for lightning physics

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica logo

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica

About Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science and is part of the Institutes Organisation of NWO. The mission of CWI is to conduct pioneering research in mathematics and computer science, generating new knowledge in these fields and conveying it to trade, industry, and society at large.
CWI is an internationally oriented institute, with 160 scientists from approximately 27 countries. The facilities are first-rate and include excellent IT support, career planning, training, and courses.
CWI is located at Science Park Amsterdam that is presently developing into a major location of research in the sciences in The Netherlands, housing the sciences of the University of Amsterdam and of the Vrije Universiteit as well as several other national research institutes next to CWI.


Amsterdam, Netherlands


Full time

Entry level

Full social security coverage and all benefits in accordance with the Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN fellowship regulations of the European Union (highly competitive salary and mobility allowance, plus family allowance, if applicable)

Required education

Application deadline
2 September 2018

13 June 2018

Job description

There is a lot we do not yet understand about lightning. For example, how visible lightning channels emerge from many smaller discharges, why lightning strikes of different polarity propagate differently, and how gamma-rays and other highly energetic radiation are emitted by thunderstorms. You will have the opportunity to address such open questions by extending current numerical models for electric discharges, and by deriving suitable approximations for the relevant dynamics. Your work will be embedded in an international and interdisciplinary network of collaborators investigating thunderstorm phenomena.

The research group “Multiscale Dynamics” lead by Ute Ebert works on computational models for electric discharges. Such discharges develop on multiple scales of space, time and energy. Current projects of the group address problems in thunderstorm research, plasma technology and high voltage engineering, allowing for cross-fertilization between these disciplines. Our numerical codes set the state of the art in these fields, and you will have the chance to develop and evaluate them not only for internal use in the group, but also with European and international partners.
The PhD position is part of the European Innovative Training Network “Science And INnovation with Thunderstorms” (SAINT) with 15 PhD students. The network consists of four work packages: lightning measurements from the international space station (4 students), lightning observations from ground (4 students), lightning modelling (4 students) and lightning related experiments and technology (3 students). The work on lightning modelling is coordinated by the CWI group. Collaboration within the network is strongly encouraged. Training and collaboration are facilitated through one summer and one winter school per year.


We are looking for a student with a strong interest in computational physics. Candidates should have a master degree in e.g., computational science, physics, mathematics, or a related (engineering) field. Candidates should be able to work both independently and in a team, and they are expected to have strong (academic) communication skills, both in speaking and in writing, in English.

To support mobility within and towards Europe, candidates must not have been living in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years prior to the contract, they should have no PhD degree yet, and less than four years of full-time equivalent research experience.

Terms and conditions

We offer a full-time employment as a PhD student for 4 years, partially at Eindhoven University of Technology. The appointment is initially for 18 months. After the first year, we will evaluate whether we expect that a PhD thesis can be completed successfully. If this is the case, the contract will be extended to 4 years. The contract should start not later than on March 1, 2019.

The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres (“CAO-onderzoeksinstellingen”). The fellows to be recruited by CWI will be employed with full social security coverage and all benefits in accordance with the Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN fellowship regulations of the European Union (highly competitive salary and mobility allowance, plus family allowance, if applicable).

CWI offers attractive working conditions, including flexible working times and help with housing for expat employees.

Please visit our website for more information about our terms of employment:


Applications must be sent before Monday, September 3, 2018 to We will evaluate applications until that date as they come in. All applications should include

  • your CV,
  • a brief motivation letter (max. 1 page),
  • a list of your MSc courses with grades,
  • scientific publications and Master thesis (if already available) or otherwise the Bachelor thesis and a summary of the Master thesis, and
  • the names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers of at least one scientist able and willing to provide references.

For residents outside the EER-area, a TOEFL English language test might be required.
For more information about the vacancy, please contact prof. Ute Ebert, email
For more information about CWI, please visit or watch our video “A Fundamental Difference” about working at CWI.

Research group

For more information about CWI’s Multiscale Dynamics group, please check: