PhD-position on network modeling of Caribbean long-spined sea urchins die-off and strategies for recovery

PhD-position on network modeling of Caribbean long-spined sea urchins die-off and strategies for recovery

Published Deadline Location
9 Dec 10 Jan Wageningen

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Job description

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate, who is eager to contribute to an international collaborative effort on understanding sea urchin massive die-offs and supporting populations recovery. The successful candidate will apply quantitative techniques from biological oceanography, network science, and infectious disease epidemiology to improve our understanding of the mechanisms of disease spread in sea urchins, the potential for recovery and strategies for how assisted natural recovery can be achieved.

The PhD project will first quantify population connectivity of sea urchins among Caribbean islands. Second, evaluating disease propagation pathways throughout the Caribbean will shed light on the infection dynamics. Last, gained knowledge from population connectivity and disease spread will jointly support the ongoing restoration efforts, by contributing with sciences-based advice on restoration priorities.

You will work here
The research is a joined project embedded within the chairs of Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology, and Marine Animal Ecology. You will be co-supervised by Dr. Quirine ten Bosch and Dr. Carmen-Lucia David.

Information about the project
The long-spined sea urchin (Diadema antillarum) constitutes one of the most important herbivores on Caribbean coral reefs, removing algae and maintaining open space for coral growth. Diadema experienced massive die-offs in the 1980s, of which the populations have not yet fully recovered. As of the beginning of 2022, Diadema are again experiencing extensive die-offs, threatening the species existence as well as the health of the coral reefs in the region. A collaborative region-wide effort - the Diadema Response Network - has rapidly formed to track and try to understand the cause of this recent die-off of Diadema.


Wageningen University & Research


  • Msc in quantitative studies (Applied Mathematics, Computational (Marine) Biology, Ecology, Physics, Infectious Disease Epidemiology)
  • knowledge of mathematical analysis, differential equations, probability theory
  • strong background in biological oceanography, marine ecology
  • good command of programming language (Fortran, Python, R, or equivalent)
  • a very good English language skills written and spoken
  • good organizational and interpersonal skills
For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised 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:
  • 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 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 18th 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.
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. For instance under the "30% rule", certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.


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.


  • PhD
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • P1120449-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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