PhD Position: Understanding Species Sensitivity to Chemicals

PhD Position: Understanding Species Sensitivity to Chemicals

Published Deadline Location
6 Nov 4 Dec Wageningen

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Job description

Are you a talented aspiring researcher who is interested in improving risk assessment methods that truly benefit biodiversity and people? Do you want to better understand species sensitivity towards chemicals? Then read on and apply!

We invite applications for the PhD position entitled: ‘Improving our understanding of the mechanisms driving aquatic invertebrates’ sensitivity towards chemicals and utilizing this information to better predict it’.
In this PhD project, you will co-develop an assessment framework for understanding the underlying mechanisms causing an adverse effect of chemicals and to identify the driving biochemical and biological traits making some species more sensitive than others to better understand and predict toxicity. This will be done by employing experimental and modelling approaches.

In the EnSa (early environmental safety) project you will collaborate with researchers from the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Toxicology and Environmental Technology groups of Wageningen University, and will be encouraged to collaborate with other researchers within WUR, for example through the Wageningen Biodiversity Initiative. This project is part of a cooperation with an agronomic company and involves two other PhD candidates.

Specific objectives include, but are not limited to:
  • Collect and curate mode of action, toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic and ADME (adsorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion)-relevant traits useful for predicting species sensitivity towards chemicals;
  • Identify and fill major data gaps in sensitivity (i.e., to certain chemical modes of action) and traits data (i.e., species size/weight, metabolic rates);
  • Perform toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic ecotoxicity experiments to further develop toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic models;
  • Explore the usefulness of quantitative adverse outcome pathways, and expand the cross-species extrapolation framework to a wider range of chemicals;
  • Contribute to the main aim to extrapolate the sensitivity of surrogate species to other species via cross-species extrapolation, making use of the biochemical traits and traits describing important toxicokinetic-related processes.

You will work here
The PhD project will take place within Environmental Risk Assessment team at Wageningen Environmental Research, where you will be supervised by Dr. Sanne van den Berg and Dr. Ivo Roessink.
Prof. Paul van den Brink of the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management group of Wageningen University will be your promotor.

The Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) team is an interdisciplinary team of ecologists, chemists, modelers and ecotoxicologists and consists of a mixed group of juniors and seniors. The ERA team develops models and conducts experimental research to predict the behavior of organic contaminants in the environment, and to determine their effects on ecosystems.

This will offer you the unique opportunity to profit from an extensive collaborative network and expertise from two key research groups in the field. As a PhD student you will become part of the Wageningen Institute for Environment and Climate Research (WIMEK), which is one of the six Graduate Schools at Wageningen University that will support you with additional skills and opportunities to develop your academic and professional network.


Wageningen University & Research


For this PhD position, we are searching an enthusiastic result-driven candidate with:
  • an MSc degree in a relevant discipline in environmental sciences, biology or related area, from an internationally recognized two year master program taught in English and including a thesis research of at least 36 ECTS;
  • a background in experimental aquatic studies and/or ecotoxicology;
  • the ability to work in a multidisciplinary and international team;
  • affinity with working as a team player, proactive in your work, involved actively in your working environment and capable of independently addressing and solving research problems;
  • oral and written proficiency in English (C1 level). Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here;
  • experience with the development and use of ecotoxicological models like toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic and dynamic energy budget model

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • 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 hours by working more;
  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and partially paid parental leave;
  • 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 € 2.629,- per month rising to € 3.360,- in the fourth year in accordance with the CLA Wageningen Research (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 36 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 and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.


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.. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

These are the points our employees list as good reasons to come work at WUR: read the 5 reasons to come work at WUR

This research will fall under a cooperation between the Environmental Risk Assessment Team of Wageningen Environmental Research and the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality group of Wageningen University, both belonging to Wageningen University & Research.

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
  • P1360762-3


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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