PhD detection techniques CBRN agents

PhD detection techniques CBRN agents

Published Deadline Location
22 Mar 7 Apr Soesterberg

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Do you want to help develop new techniques for early detection of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) agents at accidents or illegal activities? Join us in increasing our capabilities in identifying these agents to subsequently act proactively against known and unknown health, safety, environmental or security risks. Are you curious what this PhD-project has to offer you? Continue reading.

Job description

The BroSure project 

The BroSure project will enable the development of methods for broad detection and identification of chemical and biological agents in accidents or illegal activities. New broad-scanning Mass Spectometry (MS) equipment and methods will enable untargeted detection and identification of trace amounts of chemicals, thereby expanding the capabilities of chemical detection. 

Our primary objective is to expand broad identification possibilities of chemical agents present at trace amounts or low concentrations in complex matrices using novel Tribrid LC- high resolution mass spectrometry (hrMS) and GC-MS techniques. In this way the speed of analyses can be enhanced and unbiased unknown searches can be improved. The developed broad identification CBRN analytical methods will be applied in pilot studies that focus on the illegal dispersion in crime or terror of CBRN agents in complex matrices. 

The BroSure project will also develop and implement innovative broad analytical techniques for detecting and identifying CBRN agents to identify yet unknown health, safety, and environmental risks. These new techniques will be piloted in close collaboration with inspections and law enforcement agencies.

Your role 

As a PhD researcher in this dynamic project, your primary focus will be studying and expanding broad identification possibilities for non-volatile chemical agents present at trace amounts in complex matrices. You will focus on novel LC-hrMS and for volatile compounds on GC-MS detection. Demonstrating the applicability of these innovative chemical detection methods, combined with available biological, radiological, and nuclear detection methods, will be in pilots focusing on illegal dispersion like crime or terror of CBRN agents in complex matrices. You will write scientific publications and a dissertation and present your results at scientific conferences. This PhD focuses on the chemical part of the detection methods, you will work closely with a PhD student who works on the biological part of it.

The details 

The PhD position is a collaboration between the Centre for Safety and Security at RIVM and Wageningen Food Safety Research (WFSR) at Wageningen University & Research (WUR), where the thesis defense will occur. Additionally, you will be associated to the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry as the degree-awarding entity.

You will collaborate closely with the PhD researcher on biological detection and with a multidisciplinary team of scientists at RIVM and WFSR (WUR), who will support with the analytical techniques and sample collection. RIVM has a platform for our PhD-students, which offers educative and social activities and allows you to stay in touch with PhD-students throughout the entire organization.

The PhD position is part of the RIVM project BroSure that will run for four years. Your contract is for the duration of the project. Initially, this is for 12 months and after a positive evaluation, it is extended for another 36 months. Because this is a promotion program, there will be a salary increase after the first year, and your salary will increase annually to the maximum pay in the fourth year of the project.

If you are passionate about analytical chemistry, in developing new analytical methods and applying them to challenging samples and possess the skills we're looking for, we invite you to apply for this position.


Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)


About you 

You are highly driven and extremely curious. “Why?” is a question you often ask, both inside and outside of science, and you like solving complex questions. You aim to excel, and your biggest talents are creativity, persistence and being inquisitive. You are a social and honest colleague. Whilst you are developing your career, you are eager to learn new analytical techniques. As a team player, you find it natural to keep your colleagues informed about your activities, and it energizes you to interact with experts from different scientific disciplines in multiple institutes.

You have good communication skills and are proficient in English (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). You also have communication skills in Dutch or are willing to acquire these since communication in Dutch is needed for your involvement in sampling campaigns. You are an independent worker and can organize and prioritize your work.

Further, we ask:

  • You have an MSc degree in (bio)analytical chemistry or a relevant chemistry-related field;
  • You have a strong background in experimental science and solid hands-on experience in mass spectrometry (GC-MS or LC-MS) and data processing;
  • Analytical chemistry lab skills, including organic extractions.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.


Salarisomschrijving: The salary during the doctoral research is set as follows:

  1. the first year € 2,945.77 gross per month (according to scale 8, salary scale 0);
  2. the second year in accordance with scale 8, salary scale 5;
  3. the third year in scale 8, salary scale 7;
  4. the fourth year according to scale 8, salary scale 8.
  • Dienstverband: Arbeidsovereenkomst voor bepaalde tijd
  • Contractduur: Temporary appointment, for the duration of training
  • Maximaal aantal uren per week: 36

Other terms and conditions of employment

In addition to your salary, you will receive an Individueel Keuzebudget (Individual Choice Budget, IKB). The IKB consists of money (16.37% of your gross annual salary) and time. With the IKB you can put together part of your terms of employment and make the choices that suit you. For example, you can choose to have part of your IKD paid out every month, for a higher monthly salary, or at the end of the year, so you can save money easily. You can also convert this budget into leave and vice versa or spend it on tax-friendly causes. The government attaches great importance to personal growth and career development and offers numerous opportunities for this. The fringe benefits include various study facilities, company fitness, full reimbursement of your public transport travel expenses commuting and partially paid parental leave.


  • PhD; Research, development, innovation
  • Natural sciences; Health
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • max. €2945 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT RIVM 20240322


Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

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Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3769 XA, Soesterberg

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