Gepubliceerd op 15-09-2021

PhD Candidate, “NanoBubbles” at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of History at Maastricht University

ou are invited to apply for a PhD position within the “NanoBubbles” project. The project is funded by an ERC Synergy grant awarded to a consortium led by four co-principal investigators at universities in France and the Netherlands; the Maastricht University co-PI is prof. dr. Cyrus Mody.

Research project
The NanoBubbles ERC Synergy project’s objective is to understand how, when and why science fails to correct itself. The project’s focus is claims made within the field of nanobiology. Project members combine approaches from the natural sciences, computer science, and the social sciences and humanities (Science and Technology Studies) to understand how error correction in science works and what obstacles it faces. For this purpose, we aim to trace claims and corrections through various channels of scientific communication (journals, social media, advertisements, conference programs, etc.) via both qualitative and digital methods.

Your contribution to the overall project will be a study of the role of conferences in the circulation of claims and counter-claims, and of the ways that conferences interface with other sites of scientific activity such as laboratories and journals. Your study will be largely ethnographic – you will conduct participant observation at scientific conferences and in nanobiology laboratories. You will also conduct interviews, visit archives, and collect other published and unpublished sources. Although you are not expected to have a background in digital humanities, you will work with a postdoctoral researcher at Maastricht University and members of the NanoBubbles teams at other universities to apply digital tools to trace claims and counter-claims as they move through and beyond scientific conferences.

Your research will be located in the Research Institute for Arts and Social Sciences (see: https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/research/fasos-research-institute).

Job description
You will:

  • Determine a set of current and historical nanobiology (and related) conferences where scientists promote, challenge, and discuss contested claims.
  • Carry out ethnographic, interview, and archival research in several countries. For this, travel will be required.
  • Work closely with other members of the project, both at Maastricht University and elsewhere.
  • Learn and apply some basic digital humanities techniques relevant to your project, both for data acquisition/processing (e.g., OCRization of sources) and analysis (e.g., tools for distant reading of large numbers of texts). Other members of the project will provide you with some training and infrastructural support for any digital humanities techniques that you adopt.
  • Write academic publications, and co-author with other members of the team.
  • Participate in team meetings.
  • Take part in training by the Graduate School of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, as well as the WTMC Graduate School.

The position is 0,8 fte research and 0,2 fte teaching (some reduction in teaching is likely, especially in the final year). The Faculty of Arts and Sciences offers BA programmes in Arts & Culture, European Studies, Digital Society, and Global Studies. Information on those and other FASoS teaching programmes can be found on our website. Other faculties at Maastricht University also host programmes, such as University College Maastricht, that provide teaching opportunities closely related to your expertise.


You hold an MA/MSc degree in Science and Technology Studies, sociology, anthropology, history or a related discipline (or are expected to obtain such a degree before 1 September 2021).

You have received excellent grades and you have an obvious interest in academic research, particularly qualitative research methods. You can manage your time and your research activities well. You are capable of autonomously conducting original research as well as working in a team. You write and communicate fluently in English.

Conditions of employment

We offer a dynamic and challenging job in an internationally-oriented organisation where young people receive an advanced education and scholars conduct exciting research. You will be part of an international network of top universities and renowned scholars within the field.

We offer a 4-year full-time appointment as PhD candidate.
The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended with another 3 years.

Under the condition that your dissertation is positively evaluated by the assessment committee, you will be eligible for a postdoctoral position in Year Five of the project.

Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels for PhD-candidates starting with a salary of € 2.434- with a yearly growth to € 3.111,- gross a month (based on a full-time appointment).

Each year the standard salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%.

You have to be willing to move to (the vicinity of) Maastricht. If you do not already live in Maastricht (or its direct surroundings), you will be eligible for an allowance for moving costs. You may also be eligible for an allowance for alternative housing.

Other secondary conditions include e.g. a pension scheme and partially paid parental leave.

You will be provided with shared office space and a PC.

Starting date: 1 January 2022.

The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website www.maastrichtuniversity.nl > About UM > Working at UM.

Apply via postal mail


Don’t forget to mention AcademicTransfer and the job number: AT2021.351 in your letter.


You are invited to submit:

  1. A letter of motivation stating your qualifications and reasons for interest in the position;
  2. Your CV;
  3. Grade transcript of previous education at MA/MSc level and undergraduate level;
  4. A writing sample (course papers; theses; academic publications);
  5. The contact information of two references (including e-mail; phone number, mailing address, and relationship to the applicant). The references will not necessarily be contacted.

Maastricht University is committed to promoting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community. We believe that diversity in our staff and student population contributes to the quality of research and education at UM, and strive to enable this through inclusive policies and innovative projects led by teams of staff and students. We encourage you to apply for this position.

The deadline for submitting your application is 4-10-2021.

Please send your application electronically to the Secretariat of the department History:


Het KNHG is de grootste organisatie van professionele historici in Nederland. Het biedt een platform aan de ruim 1100 leden en aan de historische gemeenschap als geheel. Word lid van het KNHG.
Het Huygens Instituut beoogt de Nederlandse geschiedenis en cultuur inclusiever maken. Het ontsluit historische bronnen en literaire teksten en ontwikkelt innovatieve methoden, tools en duurzame digitale infrastructuur.