PhD position in 'Effects of Pollution at the Ecosystem Level'

PhD position in 'Effects of Pollution at the Ecosystem Level'

Published Deadline Location
2 Jul 18 Aug Leiden

Job description

The Faculty of Science and the Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) are looking for:

PhD candidate | Environmental impact assessment of pollution at the ecosystem level (0.8-1.0 fte)

Vacancy number: (14994)

The freshwater system and its adjacent ecosystems host countless species because of their need of water. These are the earths’ natural capital and drivers of many ecosystem services we humans depend on. At the same time, the presence and effects of anthropogenic stress in the aquatic environment are multitude and ubiquitous. These include the omnipresence of chemical pollution such as the use of agricultural chemicals.

To relatively quickly assess the impacts of chemicals a standard risk assessment framework is in place. While valuable, the frameworks often lacks ecological realism. Researchers from Leiden University therefore experiment in outdoor freshwater experimental systems with natural food webs such as the “Levend Lab” (EN: “Living Lab”, to identify how biodiversity responds to the impacts of pesticides, fertilizers, invasive species and nanomaterials.

Using ecological theory, a large array of different experimental and statistical analytical methods are currently in practice to perform and analyze such experiments. The key challenge for the PhD candidate is to test these different forms of experimental and statistical analytical methods to identify stressor - ecosystem function relationships. The research will likely entail measuring different forms of aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem functionality followed by statistical modelling to infer causality of stressor impacts and their propagation through the ecosystem.

We invite prospective candidates to unravel the intricate network of species interactions between each other and their environment. The candidate will use new analytical methods and develops models and interpretation scenarios to identify how pollution impacts species and their role in ecosystem functionality.

Key tasks:
  1. Perform mesocosm pollution experiments in the ‘Levend Lab’ facility of Leiden University
  2. Further develop and test different types of statistical analyses at the community to ecosystem level
  3. Advance ecological theory by identifying the anthropological and natural drivers of species and their roles in ecosystems

Selection criteria:
  • You should have an M.Sc. in a relevant field (environmental science, biology, ecology and/or ecotoxicology), but we also consider candidates from other related scientific fields.
  • Experience with experimental field and laboratory skills and (aquatic) organism identifications are highly valued
  • Strong background and interest in statistical analyses, data management, visualization and coding skills (in R, but Python also applies) is highly valued.
  • You must be proficient in spoken and written English.
  • You are a team player and have a collaborative attitude.

Research at our Institute/Faculty
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,800 staff and almost 6,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The environmental science research in CML is organized around two major research areas: ‘Industrial Ecology’ and ‘Environmental Biology’. This makes CML one of the few institutes covering both the circular, sustainable economic use of natural resources and natural capital, as well as assessing the environmental impacts of economic activities on natural resources, biodiversity and natural capital. Presently, over 150 FTE (including postdocs and PhD candidates) are employed at CML. CML collaborates with the TU Delft and Erasmus University (Rotterdam) in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability (LDE-CfS).

Terms and conditions
We offer a 1-year position with the possibility of extension to 4 years based on performance. Salary ranges from € 2.770 gross per month in the first year to € 3.539 gross per month in the fourth year based on a full-time position (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

At the Faculty of Science we value inclusiveness and strive for a diverse community with equal opportunities for all. We give full support to our staff in achieving their potential to become independent academic researchers and teachers. For more information about our policy on diversity and equality please go to the diversity page on our website. Female researchers are also welcomed to join the Researchers In Science for Equality network of the Faculty if Science (

Enquiries can be made to Dr. S. Henrik Barmentlo,

Please submit your application via the online recruitment system, via the blue button at the top or bottom of this page. Applications received via e-mail will not be taken into consideration. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:
  • CV
  • A motivation letter
  • The names and phone numbers of two referees

Only applications received before 19th of august will be considered. Interviews will be conducted in September 2024.


Leiden University


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14994



Leiden, 2312AR, Leiden

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 18 Aug 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).