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PhD on the topic: Privacy Preserving Computer Architectures (1.0 FTE) (V24.0371)

Job description

The University of Groningen and the Groningen Cognitive Systems and Materials has an opening for a PhD candidate to work within CogniGron’s NeuroPrivate project.

The NeuroPrivate project aims to implement privacy-preserving computing platforms using emerging technology, such as resistive random-access memory (ReRAM), phase-change memory, magnetic memory, and ferroelectric memory. The project explores one of the emerging and market-ready technologies, such as ReRAM, to implement fully homomorphic encryption functionality at the Edge and make it extensible to the cloud. The eventual goal of the NeuroPrivate project is to design and demonstrate an energy-efficient homomorphic processing architecture platform leveraging the capabilities of an emerging technology.

Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative institution of higher education, offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 34,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global center of knowledge.

Within the Faculty of Science and Engineering, a 4-year interdisciplinary PhD position is available at the Bernoulli Institute for Mathematics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence and CogniGron. The candidate will become a member of Dr. Farhad Merchant’s Research Group working on innovative Computer Architectures and Hardware Security, and will be supervised by Dr Farhad Merchant.

CogniGron: Groningen Cognitive Systems and Materials Center (CogniGron), based at the University of Groningen, is a unique multidisciplinary research center. We do fundamental research into self-learning materials and systems for cognitive computing — computing that has the ability to learn and to handle complex challenges in a super-efficient way, inspired by how the human brain works. This means rethinking the computer as we know it. Our mission is to find a new blueprint for future-proof computing.
CogniGron was founded on a large gift from the Ubbo Emmius Foundation (UEF). This gift gave us the means to pursue our dreams of scientific breakthroughs and give young and bright minds the opportunity to develop themselves in this new field of science. This PhD position is funded by the Ubbo Emmius Foundation.


  • MSc degree or equivalent in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, or related field with excellent grades.
  • Sound knowledge of computer hardware design and synthesis tools (ASIC, FPGA).
  • Excellent programming and scripting skills.
  • Excellent English communication, presentation, and writing skills.
  • Must be a team player who can work in CogniGron’s multidisciplinary environment in close collaboration with Dr. Erika Covi’s group.
  • Knowledge of cryptography is an added advantage.
  • Knowledge of emerging technologies (ReRAM, PCM, etc.) is an added advantage.


Conditions of employment

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • A salary of € 2,770 (salary scale PhD candidates) gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month in the fourth and final year, based on a full-time position.
  • A holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus.
  • A temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years; prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that you will successfully complete your PhD thesis within the next three years. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement.

Intended start date: 1 November 2024


Please submit the following material, concatenated in a single PDF file and upload this file as your ‘Letter of Motivation’ by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website):

  • A cover letter motivating your application and detailing the motivation to apply for this specific PhD project (1 page max).
  • An academic CV.
  • A research statement (2 pages max) describing your personal research interests and previous research projects.
  • A certified list of grades from your undergraduate degree(s) up to the moment of application (in case your MSc degree has not yet been awarded).
  • The names and e-mail addresses of 3 academic referees who are willing and able to write recommendation letters for you, including the supervisor of your MSc research project.

You may apply for this position until 29 August 11:59pm / before 30 August 2024 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website). Applications will be evaluated as received.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Dr Farhad Merchant, f.a.merchant

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.