Universiteit Leiden

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Programmer (NLP, web and experimental tasks in labs)

Vacancy number
22-241 11357
Function type
Non-academic staff
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
19 April 2022
Closing date
10 May 2022 Vacancy closed

The Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) is looking for candidates for a:

Programmer (NLP, web and experimental tasks in labs) (1,00 FTE)
Vacancy number: 22-240 11357 

for the WetSuite project (0,6fte) and for the labs within LUCL (0,4fte)

The WetSuite project is an interdisciplinary project involving the Humanities and the Faculty of Law. It seeks to develop a web-portal and a Python library to accelerate the application of Natural Language Processing (NLP) methods to Dutch and EU governmental legal data. It will build on existing government data repositories to provide convenient access to Dutch and EU laws/regulations and court judgments, Dutch administrative decisions, as well as related textual data. Besides convenient tools for data preprocessing and conversion, WetSuite will offer an interface to state-of-the-art NLP libraries (Spacy, Huggingface transformers), attuned to the different data types in the legal discipline. Preprocessing steps (e.g., reading in XML files) and common NLP methods (such as text classification, text clustering, named entity recognition, information retrieval, topic modeling) will be made available as web services in the browser, with no installation or programming required, to aid legal researchers with no programming experience. The underlying WetSuite Python library will be open source and easily extensible for users with technical know-how.

You will develop the WetSuite library from scratch, as well as its web applications (mostly back-end), though with a possibility of getting external support / outsourcing part of the latter. You will be the lead programmer, working in close collaboration with the legal and NLP researchers in the team, to iteratively identify needs in the research community and extend WetSuite accordingly with working solutions, using an agile workflow. The candidate’s own ideas and opinions are welcomed throughout the project, especially if they contribute their own experience in NLP or legal research.

The labs within LUCL seek a programmer who can (i) program experimental tasks (e.g., Python, MATLAB, JAVA, Praat, E-Prime, etc.); (ii) write scripts and software for cognitive experiments, both for producing stimuli and for analyzing data (e.g. speech, gestures, eye-tracking, EEG, fMRI, fNIRS); (iii) develop, test, and maintain various software for stimuli delivery and response collection, and (iv) Windows and Apple OS system management of lab computers. Within the labs, you will be part of the lab management team and together with the lab manager you are responsible for supporting the technical aspects of research conducted by members of the LUCL.

Our ideal candidate has the following qualifications:
•    MSc/MA in computer science/computational linguistics, electrical engineering or equivalent work experience and relevant academic training;
•    Prolific in Python, in particular library development from scratch, and interfacing with existing NLP libraries (e.g., huggingface transformers, spacy). We strive for the highest-quality, well-documented, Pythonic code, with adequate testing, logging and version management;
•    Strong commitment to acquiring new programming skills (e.g. JAVA and/or MATLAB, E-Prime, Experimental Builder, R, and Praat).
•    Experience with web application development, mostly back-end, allowing website visitors to access legal data as well as run NLP models on a server; depending on the applicant’s experience, part of this can also be outsourced;
•    Though the main task in de WetSuite project is to implement an interface with existing NLP libraries, familiarity the NLP tasks and state-of-the-art models themselves, and the ability to evaluate and adapt existing models to legal language, would be a plus;
•    Familiarity with data standardization and linguistic annotation, in particular the FoLiA framework; familiarity with legal data;
•    Service oriented, with an interest in research (in the fields of linguistics) and experience with working within a team of researchers, and with international researchers;
•    Interest in the underlying principles of hardware and in acquiring the know-how of digital signalprocessing and acoustic processes in the LUCL labs;
•    Excellent communication skills;
•    Autonomy and curiosity.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Humanities is rich in expertise in fields such as philosophy, religious studies, history, art history, literature, linguistics and area studies covering nearly every region of the world. With its staff of 995, the faculty provides 27 master’s and 25 bachelor’s programmes for over 7,000 students based at locations in Leiden and in The Hague. For more information: 

The Faculty has seven Institutes, among which the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics ( https://www.lucl.nl/ ). LUCL has a longstanding tradition in the study of the world’s languages and features unique linguistic expertise. Current theoretical insights are combined with modern experimental methods in its research profile area ‘Language Diversity in the World’.

Terms and conditions
The WestSuite Project appointment (0,6fte) will be for 30 months, and the lab appointment (0,4fte) will be initially for a period of one year, with the prospect of a permanent position after positive evaluation of capabilities, compatibility, as well as willingness to learn the underlying principles of hardware. In the future, full-time appointment may be a possibility. Salary ranges from € 2,836 to € 4,474 gross per month (for a full-time appointment), based on qualifications and experience (salary scale 10 in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities). The starting date will be 1 July, 2022. The place of work is Leiden.
Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses(8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at/job-application-procedure-and-employment-conditions.

Diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are core values of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. We welcome diversity in experiences and perspectives, because they enrich and strengthen our teaching and research.

Enquiries can be made to prof. dr. Lisa Cheng, Academic Director of LUCL, L.L.Cheng@hum.leidenuniv.nl. 

Please submit your application no later than 10 May 2022 via the blue button in our application system, providing the following information:
•    A cover letter explaining your motivation, background and qualifications for the position.
•    Curriculum Vitae.
•    The names and contact details of two potential referees.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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