PhD position 'Designing biodiversity enhancing agri-food systems using bio-economic models at a regional level'

PhD position 'Designing biodiversity enhancing agri-food systems using bio-economic models at a regional level'

Published Deadline Location
22 Sep 28 Oct Wageningen

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Job description

Are you interested in designing sustainable agri-food production systems? Are you passionate about developing decision support models that can be used to explore alternative production activities that promote biodiversity and improve the efficiency of using scarce resources? Are you excited about mathematical programming, quantitative system analysis and data analysis? Do you appreciate interdisciplinary collaboration? Then this PhD position might be the perfect fit for you!

The Operations Research and Logistics group of Wageningen University is hiring a PhD candidate (4 years, full-time employment) to become part of a large national and multi-disciplinary project funded by the Dutch Science foundation (NWO). The main objective of this project is to make agri-food production systems more sustainable and capable to meet the increasing demand for healthy and safe food. This will be achieved by exploring the potential of alternative production systems (based on crop mixtures) to increase biodiversity of the Dutch agricultural landscapes and improve resource use efficiency throughout the food supply chain.

The PhD position will focus on developing bio-economic models that optimize farm management decisions and the allocation of available resources at a regional level taking into account complex biophysical processes and interactions between land use activities. The models will be used to provide policy and managerial insights about the structure of biodiversity enhancing agri-food production systems that optimize important indicators of economic, environmental and social sustainability.

A major challenge of this PhD position is to explore methods based on Mixed Integer Linear Programming, Multi-objective Optimization and Multi-criteria decision making and account for preferences and objectives of important stakeholders. Explicitly accounting for preference of decision makers will result in calculating solutions that are not only technically feasible but also acceptable by the farmers, managers and policy makers.

The research is embedded within the chair of Operations Research and Logistics, which is led by Prof. Dr. ir. Sander de Leeuw. You will be co-supervised by Dr. Argyris Kanellopoulos.

The group consists of 25 academics focusing on operations and supply chain issues in food and bio-based supply chains. Within this scope, the core research areas are:
  • operations and supply chain performance analysis;
  • the strategic configuration of network structures;
  • the tactical and operational planning of material flows.
In addition to traditional efficiency goals, the research also aims to improve sustainability, product quality and safety, as well as health and nutrition. Current examples of research are the design and operation of circular supply chains, the management of disruptions in food supply chains, the connection between changing diets and sustainable supply chain design, the operations in omni-channel retail, the management of not-for-profit supply chains, and supply chain planning to minimize waste.


Wageningen University & Research


You have
  • a university degree (MSc) in a discipline relevant to the PhD project (e.g. operations research, agricultural/environmental economics, industrial engineering);
  • experience with quantitative optimization methods like multi-objective optimization, Mixed Integer Linear Programming and Multi-criteria decision making techniques;
  • knowledge on important challenges of current agri-food production chains and land use systems;
  • Experience with mathematical programming software like GAMS, FICO-XPRESS , python and data management software.
  • collaborated and enjoy working together with people from other scientific disciplines (multi-disciplinary projects);
For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognized Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • study leave and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.
In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the " Best University " in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is "To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life". Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR's Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!


  • PhD
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • P1066839-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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