Doctoral Position in Cognitive Robotics
University of Antwerp Faculty of Business and Economics

Department: Department of Engineering Management

Regime Full-time

Let’s shape the future - University of Antwerp

The University of Antwerp is a dynamic, forward-thinking, European university. We offer an innovative academic education to more than 20 000 students, conduct pioneering scientific research and play an important service-providing role in society. We are one of the largest, most international and most innovative employers in the region. With more than 6000 employees from 100 different countries, we are helping to build tomorrow's world every day. Through top scientific research, we push back boundaries and set a course for the future – a future that you can help to shape.  

The Department of Engineering Management in the Faculty of Business and Economics is looking for a full-time (100%) doctoral scholarship holder in the field of cognitive robotics

The vacancy is situated within an international Human Frontier Science Project entitled “Mental 3D space-time travel in fission-fusion animal societies”.

Humans readily use and share information about each other’s past and present to plan for the future and coordinate their actions. By contrast, the extent to which animals think/communicate about the past or future to plan behaviors has yet to be elucidated.  The university of Antwerp is a partner in an international consortium that will investigate the mental travel through space and time of animals through behavioral experiments on animals and robots.  Our role in this project will be to propose and experimentally validate hypotheses of planning mechanisms as derived from behavioral experiments with bats, dolphins and parrots.  The experimental platform consists of a group of 10 custom designed mobile robots programmed in Python.  In the past, we have developed a biologically plausible navigation mechanism based on semi-metric maps of the environment that will be enriched to contain relevant time information as well.   Combining reinforcement learning with these biomimetic memory structures, the robotic agents will attempt to model the behaviors observed in the animal experiments. The goal of the robotic work is to propose and test minimalist cognitive models for the mechanisms operating in the animals’ heads.


  • You will work actively on the preparation and defence of a PhD thesis in the field of cognitive robotics, empirical (using multi-robot platform) and theoretical modelling of animal planning in space and time.
  • You will publish scientific articles related to the research project.
  • You will carry out a limited number of teaching and research support tasks for the Active Perception Lab in the Department of Engineering Management at the Faculty of Business and Economics.


  • You hold a Master degree in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering or you will have obtained it by the time you start work.
  • You can demonstrate excellent study results.
  • Your teaching competences are in line with the University of Antwerp’s educational vision.
  • Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies.
  • You act with attention to quality, integrity, creativity and cooperation.
  • You have extensive experience programming in Python or C++  
  • Experience with Reinforcement learning techniques is an advantage.

What we offer

  • We offer a doctoral scholarship for a period of one year. Following a positive evaluation, the scholarship can be renewed for another two years.
  • The planned start date is 1 November 2022 or as soon as possible after that date.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for Contract Research Staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will receive ecocheques, Internet-connectivity allowance, and a bicycle allowance or a full reimbursement of public transport costs for commuting.
  • You will do most of your work at the City Campus in a dynamic and stimulating working environment.
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here.

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including 15 August 2022 (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: a motivation letter and your academic CV.
  • The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure. Please make a note of the following dates: 29 August-2 September (interview).
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact Herbert Peremans,

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.

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