PhD Researchers

PhD Researchers


Applying AI technologies in the domain of cultural heritage is becoming increasingly mainstream. Archives, libraries and museums take advantage of recent advances in machine learning to (semi)automatically extract meaning from digital objects in their collections. However, using AI comes with certain pitfalls, notably understanding bias in collections and sufficiently capturing ​diverging voices represented in the collection​.

The AI:CULT project will develop methods and techniques for applying AI to subjective and polyvocal data sets. The reasons for certain heritage data to be preserved, its interpretation throughout time, and the way heritage data is accessed after digitalisation is all subject to biases. The inherent richness, subjectivity and polyvocal nature of cultural heritage data limits and often even rules out the responsible use of AI. How do we model that “Seventeenth Century” and “The Golden Age” refer to the same era, yet are not fully synonymous and carry different semantic payloads? Current state-of-the-art AI cannot deal with subtleties in a way that does justice to the important role of the heritage institute as a trusted source of information. A crucial question is how can we reap the benefits of AI while guarding against its undesired consequences?

AI:CULT addresses two case studies: 1) automatic analysis and enrichment of object-level descriptions and 2) the creation of data stories from raw collection data. Bias detection and filtering methods will be developed that will be directly tested on the heritage partners’ workflows and made available to all memory organisations in the Netherlands.

A full description of the project is available upon request.


Two PhD researchers will be hired on this project, one at each of the participating institutes. Although the PhD candidates will work on related but different sub-projects, a close collaboration between the PhD candidates is important for successful completion of the project. The PhD students are also expected to spend part of their time at the participating cultural heritage partners, the National Library of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.

Furthermore, the AI:CULT is a project within the Cultural AI Lab (, which studies, designs and develops socio-technological AI systems that are implicitly or explicitly aware of the subtle and subjective complexity of human culture. It is as much about using AI for understanding human culture as it is about using knowledge and expertise from the humanities to analyse and improve AI technology. It studies how to deal with input and output data in the context of the intended (or other) application areas, how to deal with cultural bias in data and technology and how to build AI technology that is optimised for cultural and ethical values. The different projects within the lab will interact and collaborate where possible, creating a community of researchers on the intersection of AI, cultural heritage and humanities.


For both positions we require:

  • Experience with (experimental) evaluation and statistical analyses;
  • Excellent English written and oral communication skills;
  • A keen interest in interdisciplinary research;
  • Ability and willingness to work in a team.

Ph.D. student 1: Enriching Object-Level Collection Descriptions

Affiliation: KNAW Humanities Cluster – DHLab

Supervisors: Dr. Marieke van Erp and Prof. dr. Antal van den Bosch

Candidates for this position should have a (research) master’s degree in artificial intelligence, computational linguistics, information sciences, data science, or comparable. In addition, you have strong computational skills, and an affinity with language technology and ideally knowledge representation and cultural heritage.

Ph.D. student 2: Transparent Data Stories

Affiliation: CWI – Human-centered Data Analysis Research Group

Supervisors: Dr. Laura Hollink and dr. Jacco van Ossenbruggen

Candidates for this position should have a (research) master’s degree in artificial intelligence, information science, data science, computer science or comparable. In addition, the ideal candidate has an affinity with one or more of the following fields: knowledge representation, cognitive science, computational linguistics. Strong computational skills will be necessary to design and implement algorithms and data pipelines and to run experiments.

Conditions of employment

Terms of employment PhD Student 1 at KNAW HuC

The initial labour agreement will be for a period of 12 months. After a positive evaluation, the agreement will be extended by 36 months.

The gross monthly salary is € 2.395,– per month in the first year, rising to € 3.061,– in the fourth year, based on a fulltime appointment. The salary is supplemented with an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable.

The Royal Academy of Science offers an attractive pension scheme, 6 weeks of holiday per year, the possibility to buy or sell holiday leave, as well as career development opportunities. Flexible hours and working from home are negotiable.

Terms of employment PhD student 2 at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica

The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres (“CAO-onderzoeksinstellingen”). The initial labour agreement will be for a period of 18 months. After a positive evaluation, the agreement will be extended by 30 months. The gross monthly salary, for a PhD student on a full time basis, is € 2.407,– during the first year and increases to € 3.085,– over the four year period. Employees are also entitled to a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.33%. CWI offers attractive working conditions, including flexible scheduling and help with housing for expat employees. Please visit our website for more information about our terms of employment.


KNAW Humanities Cluster and CWI

The Humanities Cluster of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) is a collaboration between three research institutes: the Huygens Institute for Dutch History, the International Institute for Social History (IISH) and the Meertens Institute for Dutch Language and Culture. The institutes are committed to groundbreaking research in the humanities, in which innovative (digital) methods play an important role.

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science and is part of theInstitutes Organisation of theDutch Research Council (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.

Additional information

The Humanities Cluster and CWI are equal opportunities employers. We encourage a diverse workforce: we endeavour to develop talent and creativity by bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together. We recruit and select based on capabilities and talent. We strongly encourage everyone with the appropriate qualifications to apply for the vacancy, regardless of age, gender, origin, sexual orientation or physical abilities.

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