PhD position in HybridLabs - Immersive experiences for communication and stakeholder engagement for North Sea Ecology

PhD position in HybridLabs - Immersive experiences for communication and stakeholder engagement for North Sea Ecology

Published Deadline Location
13 May 10 Jun Wageningen

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Job description

Are you passionate about leveraging digital technologies to address pressing environmental challenges? If so, we have an exciting PhD opportunity for you!

Scientific context
Digital technologies such as virtual and mixed realities (XR) have the potential to change the way we communicate, make decisions, and engage stakeholders about our future. As part of a large consortium called HybridLabs, we are advancing the use of XR for making environmentally sensed data, models, and simulations more accessible. HybridLabs aims to facilitate the energy transition and understand ecological consequences and opportunities of this transition. We will be building digital twins of the North Sea and combine them with XR to advance the understanding and use of immersive digital twins for stakeholder and citizen engagement.

Current trends in digital twinning focus largely on the advanced simulation of current and future states of the North Sea and the impact of the energy transition on ecological and economic aspects. Achieving this transition requires an aligned effort amongst various stakeholders. To use Digital Twins more effectively and efficiently, we will advance the use of immersive digital twins that allow for accessing simulations and sensed data more naturally and effectively from the perspective of human communication, collaboration, and stakeholder and citizen engagement. We need to build the technical and scientific foundation for the design and evaluation of immersive digital twins for the North Sea.

This PhD project will investigate how to create immersive digital twins efficiently for the North Sea integrating both sensed data such as 360° videography and results from simulations. The PhD candidate will be involved in the design of immersive experiences for the North Sea and will also conduct empirical studies to identify the challenges and opportunities of using immersive digital twins for science communication as well as stakeholder and citizen engagement.

The current PhD project is part of a large NWA-ORC project HybridLabs, a consortium of 20 partners, which aims at facilitating a faster development and deployment of technologies supporting energy, food, and ecological transitions by innovation in the design, control, monitoring, and logistics of offshore renewables while exploring nature enhancement and opportunities for novel sustainable food production.

Interdisciplinarity, partners, tools, soft- and hardware
The PhD candidate will be part of the Cultural Geography Research Group and jointly advised by the Marine Animal Ecology Group at the WUR. Within the HybridLabs project, the candidate will work together with a PostDoc and PhD candidate from the Marine Animal Ecology Group at the WUR, a scientist from Tritonoes with expertise in producing underwater 360° video footage, as well as scientists from Breda University of applied sciences with expertise on serious gaming for marine spatial planning. Additionally, the candidate will have access to WUR’s new WANDER facilities which offer a plethora of XR technologies, including VR and MR headsets, and an excellent creative team. The main platform for XR development will be Unity 3D, but we are open to exploring other opportunities. The programming languages used will be C# (if in Unity), Python or R (for statistical analysis of empirical data).

Please also see our another PhD vacancy in HybridLabs - Combining floating offshore energy with nature inclusive seafood production; focus on suspended shellfish culture and benthic organisms.


Wageningen University & Research


You are/have:
  • strong interest in science;
  • interest in the ecology of the North Sea;
  • background in human-computer interaction, communication, cognitive psychology, data science, visualization;
  • strong interest in performing empirical studies to evaluate new technologies and immersive designs;
  • experience with state-of-the art technologies for visualization and simulations;
  • experience in interacting with stakeholders and end-users;
  • background in the design of immersive experience.

Your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. More information can be found here

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • 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 19th 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.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family. Therefore, we expect that when you join WUR from abroad, you will actually live in the Netherlands.

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 for example helping your partner to find a job, housing, or schooling.

Finally, certain categories of international staff may be eligible for a tax exemption on a part of their salary during the first five years in the Netherlands.


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, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 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.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch the video below to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • P1516616-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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