PhD position at WUR on Coupling of Tipping Elements in Networks of the Earth System (1.0 FTE)

PhD position at WUR on Coupling of Tipping Elements in Networks of the Earth System (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
6 Sep 31 Oct Utrecht

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WUR is looking for a PhD candidate. Interested? Read more and apply here.

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 “Coupling of Tipping Elements in Networks of the Earth System” will be hosted at WUR, in the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management group, which falls under the department of Environmental Sciences.. Large integrated climate models with a full coupling of ocean and atmospheric circulation mechanisms and ecosystem dynamics are notoriously difficult to formulate and parametrize. The PhD student will develop simplified network models, in order to get a deep understanding of potential dynamics resulting from the coupling of tipping elements, such as cascades, oscillations, and chaotic behavior. The PhD student will build and analyze both simple and complex models, and link the observed dynamics to modern and paleo climate data.


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 who has demonstrated skills in building and analyzing models of dynamical systems and analyzing complex data sets. Basic knowledge of the functioning of the Earth system is an asset.

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.


Working with and for society

The world around us is changing quickly. We need creative solutions for serious issues like population growth, the increasing demand for safe and healthy food, and the preservation of biodiversity and our natural environment. Wageningen University & Research is committed to finding those solutions through intensive collaboration with the business world, government and social organisations.

World-class university with cutting-edge institutes

Wageningen University & Research is one of the world’s top-ranked universities in the fields of agriculture, food science and forestry. A strong commitment to teaching and fundamental research, combined with innovative applied research, creates a rich learning environment. Our nine research institutes focus on topics like food production and safety, environmental health, livestock, nutrition and climate change. Thanks to state-of the-art laboratories and research facilities, they can quickly translate their scientific breakthroughs into business-ready applications.


Working environment

The Environmental Sciences department of Wageningen University performs fundamental research and provides academic training within the broad area of the environmental sciences. Topics of interest are nature, biodiversity, landscape, land use, climate change, sea- coastal and inland waters. The Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management group falls under the department of Environmental Sciences. The research of the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management group focuses on the physical, chemical and biological processes occurring in aquatic ecosystems. The main goal is to develop new knowledge and better instruments for restoration and management of these ecosystems. The research is multidisciplinary (environmental engineering, environmental chemistry and aquatic ecology) and ranges from the laboratory scale (detailed process studies) to the scale of actual ecosystems (field studies). The multidisciplinary expertise of the team comes together in the development of integrated models for ecosystem and water quality management. The research approach thus is quantitative with a strong emphasis on state-of-the-art statistical and modelling techniques. Click here for more information about working at WUR

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
  • 1062083



Domplein 29, 3512 JE, Utrecht

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