Assistant Professor/Researcher - Modelling the Role of Soil Biota in Soil Functions/Soil Health

Assistant Professor/Researcher - Modelling the Role of Soil Biota in Soil Functions/Soil Health

Published Deadline Location
22 Aug 18 Sep Wageningen

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Job description

Are you interested in quantifying the role of soil biota in supporting a range of soil functions? Then come and join the Soil Biology team who are looking for an assistant professor/researcher to integrate the knowledge on soil biological actors and processes into soil function models, for application in agricultural systems.

We seek to strengthen our team with the appointment of an assistant professor/researcher with expertise on statistical and empirical modelling with a focus on biological systems. Capturing the complexity of soil life and the role of soil biota in supporting a range of soil functions is one of the most challenging paradoxes of contemporary soil science. Soil biota perform a plethora of processes that are fundamental to soil health. These processes in turn support a range of soil functions (nutrient cycling, water regulation, carbon management and climate regulation, disease and pest regulation and primary productivity). The successful candidate will be responsible for the development of quantitative soil function models. The models will build upon the best scientific knowledge on the role of soil biota in tandem with chemical, physical conditions, landscape characteristics and soil management.

This position is part of Wageningen University's commitment to the new Sector Plans for “Biology" and the “Earth and Environmental Sciences” which aims to further develop the knowledge and educational capacity for both these disciplines in The Netherlands. In this position, you will develop high-quality fundamental research, teach and supervise students on quantifying the role of soil biodiversity in soil functions. As part of this position, you will publish your research in international academic journals as well as reaching out to relevant stakeholders.

The portfolio for this position will be split into three key areas;
  1. Applying knowledge on statistical and empirical modelling to better understand the inter-relationships between soil biology, chemical, physical parameters, environmental and management co-variables.
  2. Quantifying synergies and trade-offs in multifunctionality at different scales of assessment for a range of agricultural ecosystem types.
  3. Designing an appropriate statistical benchmarking framework for the assessment of soil health.

Existing research projects related to this position include, Horizon Europe project BENCHMARKS ( and (BIOSIS (

You will work here
The Soil Biology group integrates knowledge on soil biota across a range of scales from the microbe to the globe. Our mission is “To explore the potential of life to increase the quality of soil”.
Soils are among humankind’s most precious natural resources, but their sustainable use is under serious threat. Our aim is to advance and share knowledge on how soil life can improve the quality and functioning of soils in agroecosystems around the world, and how land management may impact soil life. Our ambition is to cover research across a range of scales and levels of detail to ensure dissemination of fundamental insights: starting with interactions at small-scale hotspots in the soil (in particular the rhizosphere and detritusphere), through management-oriented research at the plot and field scale, towards policy-relevant research at the farm, landscape and regional scale.


Wageningen University & Research


  • a PhD in soil biology, soil ecology
  • a proven record in modelling or statistical models for the quantification of soil functions /soil health and the ability to develop new ideas and modelling approaches
  • track record in teaching at undergraduate and/or postgraduate levels
  • experience with publishing and communication through scientific and popular communication channels;
  • excellent communication and writing skills in English.

Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate their experience with concrete examples from their work in and outside academia. Female candidates are particularly encouraged to apply for this position. In the case of equal suitability of candidates, preference will be given to female candidates.

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 be initially offered a temporary contract, the scale of the contract will depend of your level of experience and role within the group. Following this initial probation period your contract can be converted into a permanent contract. Depending on your experience, we offer a competitive gross salary of between € 4332 and € 6737 for a full-time working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale 11-12).

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. 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.


  • Lecturer; Assistant professor; Associate professor; Professor
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • P1301173-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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