PhD Position Coastal Sediment Connectivity

PhD Position Coastal Sediment Connectivity

Published Deadline Location
25 Oct 30 Nov Delft

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Challenge: Where does sand on our coasts come from and where does it go?
Change: Unravel the network of coastal sediment pathways  
Impact: Safer, climate-robust coasts and deltas

Job description

Our main strategy for ensuring the climate-robustness of the Dutch coast is to nourish or place sand to widen its beaches and dunes. However, the fate of sand placed on the coast is still poorly understood in the context of the full coastal system. Understanding where nourished sand goes is necessarily rooted in understanding the natural sediment transport pathways and connectivity of the system. To take advantage of advances in the field of network analysis and extend these concepts to analyzing sediment transport pathways in coastal systems, we established the framework of coastal sediment connectivity (Pearson et al., 2020).

In this project, you will advance coastal engineering by introducing established techniques from other fields (e.g., network analysis) in a novel way to understand and predict sediment transport. These techniques will yield a new and useful toolbox of methods for predicting and understanding sediment pathways, and enable more efficient and effective nourishment design and execution. This will ultimately contribute to the robustness of the Dutch coast to climate change and the safety of its people against flood hazards.

Position at Delft University of Technology:

The objective of the PhD at TU Delft is to develop novel approaches to quantify sediment pathways and connectivity, and to use these approaches to inform coastal sediment management.

You will:

  1. Apply network analysis techniques to better understand how sediment pathways are connected at small/short and large/long space/time scales.
  2. Use coastal sediment connectivity networks to probabilistically model sediment pathways via Markov chains or machine learning approaches.
  3. Quantify (a)synchronization of coastal sediment networks and relate to hydrodynamic forcing.
  4. Relate quantitative metrics of network structure to practical coastal management goals (e.g., identifying resilience or tipping points).

At TU Delft, you will be part of the Coastal Engineering section where we combine research on hydrodynamics, morphodynamics, and human interventions to the coast using numerical modelling and field measurements. You will primarily work with Stuart Pearson and Ad Reniers, embedded within a larger ecosystem of research partners.



Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


Required conditions are:

  • Master of Science (MSc) in a relevant field, e.g. Civil or Environmental Engineering, Earth Science, Physics, Physical Geography.
  • Excellent communication skills (written and oral), including proficiency in English. For more information, click here

In addition:

  • You have demonstrated an affinity for and a strong interest in numerical modelling, coding (Matlab or Python), data analysis, and critical thinking
  • You follow your curiosity and enjoy cross-polinating different research fields, e.g. network science and sediment dynamics.
  • You work well in teams, supporting and leading your colleagues, and demonstrate inclusive values towards building a diverse research community
  • You are enthusiastic to share your ideas and findings via scientific papers, presentations at (inter)national conferences and where possible with a wider public.
  • You like to finish what you start, and can balance perfectionism with pragmatism

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource availability, urbanisation and clean water. Our research projects are conducted in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced of the importance of open science and supports its scientists in integrating open science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 32—38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD04566


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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