PhD researchers on 'Genotype-specific development of potato plants under combined stress factors' at CropXR

PhD researchers on 'Genotype-specific development of potato plants under combined stress factors' at CropXR

Published Deadline Location
9 Nov 4 Dec Wageningen

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Job description

Do you want to be part of the development of resilient crops that require fewer environmentally-damaging inputs? Then you could be the ideal candidate to join our new, interdisciplinary research institute CropXR!

With a budget of 96 million Euro over the next decade, CropXR focuses on creating eXtra Resilient (XR), sustainable, and climate-adaptive crops. By combining plant biology, simulation modelling, and artificial intelligence we aim to develop ‘smart breeding and cultivation’ methods to speed up breeding for complex resilience traits in different growing systems for several crops. This collaborative effort involves four universities (Wageningen University, Utrecht University, Universities of Amsterdam, and TU Delft), numerous companies, and encompasses scientific research, data collection and sharing, education, and practical applications in agriculture and plant breeding.

This vacancy is for three 5-year 0.8 fte PhD positions, focusing on resilience of potato to environmental stress. The project involves field experiments to study genotype-specific development under combined stress factors.
  • PhD 1: The PhD candidate will carry out field experiments and use drone data from the field experiments to assess and predict the genotype x stress factors (drought, nitrogen deficiency) interaction effects on crop canopy development and its predictive value for final tuber yield and quality. The aim is to optimize phenotyping protocols for breeders and, in combination with medium-term weather predictions, to create opportunities for in-season crop management and decision support modelling.
  • PhD 2: The PhD candidate will carry out field experiments to characterize genotype-specific plant development under combined water and nitrogen limitation stress, and the effects on tuber yield. Focus will be on aboveground plant traits. Data will be used with physiological modelling tools to define potato ideotypes for stress tolerance, to design phenotyping protocols and recommend improved crop management techniques for optimal plant development, resource use and minimal environmental impact.
  • PhD 3: The PhD candidate will carry out field experiments to quantify genotype-specific plant development under combined water and nitrogen limitation stress, and the effect on various aspects of tuber quality. Focus will be on belowground plant traits. Interactions between management and genotype will be investigated and prediction of tuber quality in crop models will be addressed.

The potato project within CropXR employs multiple PhD candidates, including the three recruited through this vacancy. Close collaboration with fellow PhD students and post-docs in Wageningen, Utrecht, and Delft will be essential to achieving the project goals.

As a PhD candidate, you will:
  • execute experimental field trials;
  • analyse and interpret the data relevant to the goal of the PhD position, contributing to the development of resilient potato crops;
  • communicate with experimental research scientists and data and modelling scientists within and beyond CropXR;
  • contribute to the education of BSc and MSc students from different knowledge institutions working with you on the project.


Wageningen University & Research


We are looking for three highly motivated and creative candidates to join us in CropXR.

You are:
  • a pleasant team player with a pro-active work attitude
  • conceptually strong and skilled in practical experimental and field work, with interests in quantitative modelling, in the areas of plant growth and physiology

You have:
  • an MSc degree in plant sciences, crop science or a related field
  • experience programming for image analysis (PhD 1), physiological modelling linked to genetics (PhD 2), or analyzing and modelling of quality traits (PhD 3)
  • excellent English language proficiency (CEFR C2 level or more). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page
  • strong collaborative skills

Experience with plant phenotyping and abiotic stress research is an advantage. However, if you feel attracted to the position but are unsure whether you already meet all the criteria, we do encourage you to apply.

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 € 2.770,- per month rising to € 3.539,- 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. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. 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.


Wageningen University & Research

About Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University and 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, 6.800 employees and 12.900 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. 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. Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

The thee positions are hosted by and connected to the Centre for Crop Systems Analysis (CSA) led by Prof. Niels Anten and Prof. Jochem Evers, and the Plant Production Systems (PPS) group, led by Prof. Dr. Katrien Descheemaeker. The PhD students will be embedded in CSA. PhD 1 will be supervised by Dr. Francisco Pinto (CSA) and Prof Evers (CSA). PhD 2 will be supervised by Dr. Xinyou Yin (CSA) and Prof Evers (CSA). PhD 3 will be supervised by Dr. Pytrik Reidsma (PPS) and Prof Anten (CSA). All PhD candidates will also join the Ph.D. program of the PE&RC graduate school. This academic environment, in combination with the embedding in a large transdisciplinary project with strong ties with private partners, gives you all opportunities to develop new skills and kick-start your academic career.

The PhD positions are supported by Holland Innovative Potato, a consortium of prominent potato chain companies, including Averis/AVEBE, AVIKO, Aardevo, Bejo, FarmFrites, HZPC, Lamb Weston, Meijer Potato, McCain, PepsiCo and Solynta. Learn more about HIP at Holland Innovative Potato – Dé kraamkamer van vernieuwing in de aardappelketen)


  • PhD
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • P1363981-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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