PhD candidate (fully funded) on Paleo-ecological data science (1.0 FTE)

PhD candidate (fully funded) on Paleo-ecological data science (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
20 Nov 15 Jan Utrecht

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Would you like to construct a national atlas of past vegetation of the Netherlands over the last 15,000 years? Then we are searching for you!

Job description

The Department of Physical Geography is looking for a PhD candidate on Paleo-ecological data science for the project ‘Looking back to plan ahead – unfolding the natural heritage of Dutch landscapes’.

Your job
To support academic and personal development, you will follow courses and assist in teaching Earth Sciences at Bachelor's and Master's level. Together these activities amount to twenty percent of the contracted time.

In order to plan future landscapes and forest composition we need to gain a better understanding of the evolution of the natural vegetation cover after the last ice age. The aim of the project is to construct a national atlas of past vegetation of the Netherlands over the last 15,000 years and answer questions on long term vegetation dynamics as well as human-environment interactions. Embedded within a team of research staff you will utilise existing pollen data and characteristics of the physical landscape in quantitative vegetation reconstructions. Together with a software engineer you will advance tools to model the vegetaton cover through time. You will be part of a team of experienced and enthusiastic scientists specialising in palaeoecology, archaeology, quaternary geology and software development. The project includes national partners that provide data and aid the project outreach.

Project 'Looking back to plan ahead – unfolding the natural heritage of Dutch landscapes'
This project is funded by NWO in partnership with companies and applied research institutes that work the field of national landscape management, archaeology and subsurface modeling. It builds on the recently developed Dutch national pollen database and aims to create a series of paleo-vegetation map layers for the period 15,000 to present. The project will utilise quantitative landcover models to populate geomorphological landscape forms based on the available pollen data. We will create an initiative to highlight ‘paleostories’ of interest to the public via our project partners. The project is embedded in the palaeoecology group of the Department of Physical Geography which is a growing team of palaeobotanists and geographers that aims at reconstructing and understanding past landscape and climate development. See also: Research by T. Giesecke


Utrecht University


We look forward to your application if you have the following qualifications and/or interests:
  • A Master’s degree (MSc) in either physical geography, data science, plant ecology, envirionmental archaeology, forestry or a related subject;
  • A background in data analysis or vegetation history;
  • An interest in vegetation history, natural forest dynamics or archaeology is important;
  • Experience with GIS and programming languages such as Phyton and/or R will be a clear advantage;
  • Willingness to work in a team;
  • Excellent proficiency in English (C2).

Conditions of employment

We offer:
  • a position (1.0 FTE) for 1 year, with an extension to a total of four years upon mutual agreement and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period;
  • a full-time gross salary between €2,770 in the first year and €3,539 in the fourth year of employment in scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities;
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions from the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, sports and cultural schemes and you get discounts on software and other IT products. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow. For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


Universiteit Utrecht

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. Shaping science, sharing 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.

The team of the Department of Physical Geography excels in research and education on BSc, MSc and PhD level. We research processes, patterns and dynamics of Earth’s systems from the mountains to the sea, and the interaction in between. This knowledge is essential for the sustainable management of our planet and to guarantee the availability of resources for the next generations.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3481



Princetonlaan 8a, 3584CB, Utrecht

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