Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) Soft and Biodegradable Sensor Technology in Agri-Food production

Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) Soft and Biodegradable Sensor Technology in Agri-Food production

Published Deadline Location
2 Dec 29 Jan Wageningen

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Job description

Are you an ambitious researcher that loves to work on cutting-edge sensing technologies that contribute to sustainable agri-food production? Are you a team player that loves to work in a multidisciplinary field?

Population growth, climate change, resource depletion and soil degradation are placing huge challenges on agriculture. Successful agricultural decision making requires sensing of soil heterogeneity in real-time in order to optimize time, location and degree of agricultural operations (e.g. sowing, irrigating, fertilizing and harvesting). A biodegradable soil sensor system would allow the distribution of a dense sensor network in the soil and monitor soil status without leaving hazardous e-wastes to the environment.

As an assistant professor (TT) in Soft and Biodegradable Sensor Technology you will contribute to the 4TU Green Sensors project. The 4TU Green Sensors project, led by the Farm Technology Group of Wageningen University & Research, is a complementary and multidisciplinary collaboration among four Dutch universities of technology (Delft University of Technology - TU Delft, Eindhoven University of Technology - TU/e, University of Twente - UT and Wageningen University & Research - WUR).

Supporting a more digitalized and sustainable agriculture the project aims to develop a biodegradable soil sensor network to be used to manage or control agri-food production in a sustainable way. Four tenure track Assistant Professors and two postdoctoral researchers will be working on topics like sensor design and fabrication, biodegradable network of sensors, soft and biodegradable sensing technology as well as modelling and control of agri-food production systems using sensor networks. Mutual collaborations amongst researchers are central to this project.

This position in Soft and Biodegradable Sensing Technology for Agri-food production will focus on investigating and developing soft sensing principles for monitoring and control of agri-food systems using biodegradable soil sensors. Soft sensing is an approach to combine one or more existing (indirect) sensor signals with knowledge of the system formalized in models to assess properties that cannot easily be sensed directly. Focusing on open-field farming, your research project will address a systems analysis to identify what soil properties need to be measured with what accuracy and resolution in space in time in relation to different crops, climates and seasons, choosing and mobilizing suitable (soft) sensor principles, sensor calibration and verification in laboratory and field, and interfacing sensing with learning based control systems.

While leading the Soft and Biodegradable Sensing Technology domain within the Farm Technology Group, you will collaborate with Prof. Eldert van Henten, a leader in sensing, modelling and automation of smart agri-food production (also leader of 4TU Green Sensor project), and Dr. Congcong Sun, assistant professor of learning-based control and Reinforcement Learning.

We expect you to broaden your work on soft sensing principles beyond soil sensing in open field agriculture to other application domains like greenhouse horticulture and livestock farming. Expected opportunities are related to assessment of losses and emissions to the environment and control of indoor aerial conditions.

When successful your initial temporary contract will be extended to a tenured position within the Farm Technology Group of WUR.

In case of a Tenure Track position for this career path:
  • you acquire, lead and implement innovative and creative(inter-) national research projects in the Farm Technology Group;
  • you collaborate with colleagues and supervise PhD students, BSc and MSc theses and you develop and teach courses;
  • you contribute to the further development of the Farm Technology Group.


Wageningen University & Research


  • A university degree (MSc) in physics, applied mathematics, statistical modelling, environmental or biosystems engineering with emphasis on (soft-)sensing;
  • A PhD relevant to the soft-sensing approach;
  • Knowledge in machine learning, programming skills in Matlab and Python are welcome;
  • Affinity with agricultural or ecological systems;
  • Proven scientific ambition, proven performance in scientific publishing, and strong ambition to publish future work;
  • A team player who can work independently yet also communicates well with colleagues;
  • Skills to be an inspiring one-to-one supervisor of students during their BSc, MSc and PhD research projects;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English;
  • Proven (project) leadership skills will be an advantage;
  • Proven project acquisition skills will be an advantage;
  • Experience with cooperation with other scientific disciplines and industry will be an advantage;
  • Experience with course teaching and willingness to further develop your didactical skills.

Conditions of employment

Tenure Track is a career path for scientists who excel in education and research. We seek to attract talented scientists and to stimulate and support their development. The career path consists of a number of successive career steps from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor to possibly Personal Professor. For additional information please see: Evaluation on job performance takes place every 3-4 years, and a positive outcome will lead to a permanent position after 7 years.

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • sabbatical leave, 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 of course receive a good salary. Depending on your experience, we offer a competitive gross salary of between €3.821,- and €5.230,- for a full-time working week of 38 hours, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale 11).

An appointment of 0.8 FTE is negotiable.

Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment. We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in 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.


Wageningen University & Research

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!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • Lecturer; Assistant professor; Associate professor; Professor
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • P1067056-7


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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