PhD position on land use and environmental impacts of biobased products (1.0 FTE)

PhD position on land use and environmental impacts of biobased products (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
7 Sep 7 Jan Utrecht

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Job description

The urgent need to mitigate climate change, to stop biodiversity loss and to move from fossil to renewable resources motivates the increased use of bio-based resources, but can thereby create multiple, sometimes conflicting sustainability impacts. There is a need for assessment methods that enable a robust and forward-looking impact assessment of existing and new bio-based solutions to determine their sustainability.


The large majority of the environmental impacts of bio-based products are related to land use and land management changes resulting from feedstock production and extraction. Impacts of land-use change highly depend on the biophysical context and are therefore location specific, temporally dynamic, and non-linear. The current statical LCA methods cannot capture the dynamic and non-linear impacts from land use. There is therefore a need to incorporate spatial and temporal variability of environmental impacts into existing LCA methodology.


The Copernicus Institute of Utrecht University is looking for a PhD candidate that will be working as part of the Horizon Europe project “ESCIB” (Environmental Sustainability and Circularity criteria for Industrial Bio-based systems), funded by the European Commission. Amongst others, the ESCIB project aims to develop a new dynamic method for assessing the environmental sustainability of bio-based systems, particularly addressing impacts related to land use and including circularity of bio-based systems.


This PhD position focuses on the development of a new dynamic and spatially-explicit method for assessing the environmental sustainability of bio-based systems, particularly addressing impacts related to land use (i.e. carbon, biodiversity, water and soil). In this position you will:


  • develop land use change scenarios including increasing demands for bio-based products;
  • develop and apply spatiotemporal land use change models;
  • develop and apply spatiotemporal environmental impact models;
  • link spatiotemporal impact modelling of bio-based systems to Life cycle Assessment approaches.


In this PhD position you will work in close collaboration with a second PhD position within the project (which focuses on circularity), developing a new dynamic method for including spatiotemporal variation in environmental impacts and  circularity of bio-based systems into LCA. You  will also be collaborating with a range of European universities and bio-based companies.


Utrecht University


We are seeking an outstanding and a highly motivated candidate with a deep interest in spatiotemporal environmental impact modelling, bio-based systems and LCA. We are especially interested in interdisciplinary scholars with strong modelling skills.

We gladly receive applications from candidates who:

  • have an EU working permit. This is a hard requirement;
  • hold a Master degree in Environmental Sciences, Physical geography or related field;
  • have experience with spatial and temporal numerical environmental impact and/or land use change modelling;
  • have experience in conducting LCA;
  • have experience in environmental impact assessment and/or modeling;
  • have affinity with bio-based systems;
  • preferably have programming skills in Python;
  • have good oral and written communication skills in English;
  • have an open, enthusiastic attitude and is able to work in inter- and transdisciplinary settings.

Conditions of employment

You will be offered a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for one year with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period.

For this position we expect a contribution to teaching of about 10% of your time, mainly by contributing to Bachelor and Master courses.

The gross salary ranges between €2,770 in the first year and €3,539 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.

In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, professional development, (partly paid) parental leave, sports and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

At the Copernicus Institute, our goal is to have a positive impact on the transition towards a sustainable future. The Copernicus Institute has had an excellent research evaluation in 2021 and the Institute takes pride in maintaining its leading position in national and international sustainability research, and by developing new, internationally oriented teaching programmes.


  • Education; Research, development, innovation; PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1214805



Princetonlaan 8a, 3584 CB, Utrecht

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