PhD position at VU Amsterdam Multiple extreme events in the sub-Arctic (1.0 FTE)

PhD position at VU Amsterdam Multiple extreme events in the sub-Arctic (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
6 Sep 31 Oct Utrecht

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Job description

The Netherlands Earth System Science Centre (NESSC) is currently looking to fill 13 PhD positions with excellent, talented, enthusiastic, highly motivated and goal-oriented candidates, with a no-nonsense mentality. The ideal candidates are interested in past and/or current climate research, are highly motivated to perform research in an excellent, exciting and international working environment, and are committed to a fully-funded 4-year PhD track.

The project “Multiple extreme events in the sub-Arctic” will be hosted at the Department of Ecological Science (Faculty of Science) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam). Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme events in many regions of the world. This can have large impacts on species, the communities they are part of and the processes within ecosystems. If hit hard enough, ecosystems may even be pushed into another state. Extreme events during the growing season are likely to have direct impacts on species survival and growth but an extreme winter even may just as well have lasting impacts on the following growing season.

Summer drought, heat events and fire have received particular attention in the Arctic region as well as extreme winter warming events and rain on snow events. However, the combination of extreme events during winter and summer has received relative little attention despite the fact that both events are likely to occur in the near future and will very likely acerbate each other’s impact on species, communities and ecosystems processes.  Considering the current changes in Arctic vegetation, shrubification and permafrost melting, observed as a result of climate warming and the feedback this has on the global carbon cycling and weather patterns there is an urgent need to address the impact of multiple extreme events.

This project will consist of a mixture of field experiments in sub-arctic Scandinavia (mainly the Abisko area) and mesocosm experiments in Amsterdam under controlled conditions. However, there is a considerable amount of freedom within the project, so the position is flexible with regard to focus on plot scale experiments to landscape scale natural events. The focus will be on the effects of extreme events on plant community development, ecosystem processes (carbon and nutrient fluxes, using amongst others 13C and 15N labelling), and on invasive species. The exact focus will among various others depend on the expertise of the candidate.


Utrecht University


General requirements for applicants
• Candidates did not reside or carry out their main activity (e.g. work, studies) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months during the 3 years immediately prior to the date of appointment (time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention, compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account)*.
• Candidates hold an MSc degree (or will graduate before the appointment date) in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Ecology, Earth Sciences and/or Environmental Sciences.
• Candidates are in the first four years of their research careers at the start of their appointment (full-time equivalent research experience, measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree entitling him or her to embark on a doctorate) and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.
• Excellent proficiency of the English language (both oral and written).
• The ability to work both independently in challenging environments and in a multidisciplinary team. Excellent communication skills and cooperation skills are required.
• An inquisitive mind-set, accuracy, creativity and self-reliance are very important. You are required to be flexible, mobile and pro-active.
• Enthusiasm to attend the full training programme as offered in the project and to actively contribute to the project aims and objectives.
• High interest in receiving training from supervisors from different institutes, disciplines and sectors, this will require regular travelling within the Netherlands.
• High motivation to contribute to the dissemination of results and outreach to both specialists and the public at large.
• Candidates are excited to move to the Netherlands and to visit a Partner Organisations for a secondment (internship), in or outside the Netherlands, as this is part of the programme. Additional research visits to international institutes and conferences for research collaborations are expected.
• Strong motivation to obtain a PhD degree.

*If you do not qualify for the first criteria, you can still submit your application if you would like to be considered for the NON-COFUND PhD positions.

Specific requirements for this project
For this project we seek a PhD candidate with a good background and affinity in Arctic terrestrial ecology and with expertise in biogeochemical analyses and preferably also in microbial ecology, willing to address the impact of multiple extreme events on sub-Arctic ecosystems.

Conditions of employment

The selected candidates will be offered a full-time PhD position at one of the NESSC institutes, initially for one year. The first formal assessment will be held between month 10 and 16 of employment, if found positive the ESR will be offered the full 48 months of PhD employment.

The gross monthly salary starts at €2,325 in the first year, and ends at €2,972 in the fourth year (scale P Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities). The salary is supplemented by a guaranteed end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and a holiday allowance of 8% of your yearly salary. We offer a pension scheme (partly paid by employer), collective insurance schemes, parental leave, travel allowance (home to work and for work purposes), and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). Facilities for sports and child care are available.


The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 23,000 students. We employ more than 4,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.



Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.


The Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

The Department of Ecological Science answers fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions regarding the relationship between organisms and their environment at the full array of hierarchical levels: from molecular ecology to ecosystem research. The department comprises a dynamic community of researchers and provides an excellent research environment with state-of-the-art facilities and high quality training. Click here for more information about working at VU

NESSC brings scientists together with a background in Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Ecology and Mathematics to better understand the processes behind climate change and to improve future climate projections and predictions. NESSC offers young academics the opportunity to work on important scientific topics in not previously existing partnerships, and thus creates the conditions for innovative, ground-breaking and multidisciplinary research, including both experimental and theoretical approaches. All PhD positions will be hosted at one of the NESSC research institutes: Utrecht University, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, VU University Amsterdam or Wageningen University.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • max. €2325 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1061816



Domplein 29, 3512 JE, Utrecht

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