PhD position in Climate Science (1.0 FTE)

PhD position in Climate Science (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
21 Jan 28 Feb Utrecht

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Come play your part in Climate Science to study organic compounds in ice cores with TD-PTR-MS.

Job description

Ice cores represent the only direct paleo-atmospheric archive and allow the reconstruction of past greenhouse gas concentrations such as CO2, CH4 and N2O. Besides greenhouse gases also organics are archived in ice cores. These organics originate from wet and dry deposition of organic vapors and aerosols in the atmosphere. The organic fingerprint in ice cores holds information about atmospheric composition that may be linked to atmospheric chemistry, biosphere, major biomass burning, and other global events. Utrecht University has developed new analytical tools based on thermal-desorption (TD) proton-transfer-reaction mass-spectrometry (PTR-MS) to study the organic composition of frozen or liquid samples. In this PhD project, the method will be further developed with our commercial and academic partners. The new TD-PTR-MS analyses will be performed on ice from Antarctic ice cores for selected time periods over the last 800,000 years and used to gain new knowledge about the state of the climate system in past times.

Our ideal candidate must have a keen interest and solid knowledge in mass spectrometry (preferably PTR-MS) and (paleo-)climate science with an MSc in (environmental) physics, (biogeo-)chemistry, geo or climate science, or a related field. Apart from your own research, you will be involved in the extensive DEEPICE training programme including three summer schools and outreach activities and must be willing to spend an extended time at secondments with other DEEPICE partner institutions. For this position, you can have any nationality but you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Besides, to be eligible, you must, at the time of recruitment at Utrecht University, be in the first four years of your research career and must not yet have been awarded a PhD title.

More information on the PhD positions available and the eligibility criteria of the MSCA programme (mobility, experience) can be found on the DEEPICE website.

DEEPICE is a research and training network on understanding deep ice core proxies to infer past Antarctic climate dynamics. It is funded by the EU HORIZON2020 programme and consists of 10 academic partner organisations from 10 European countries plus 9 collaborating institutions from academia and industry. A total of 15 early-stage Researchers (PhD students) will be employed after a competitive recruitment process and work together within the European DEEPICE consortium. Each early stage Researcher will be supervised by his/her local main supervisor and a co-supervisor within the consortium. For each of the early stage Researcher positions, a recruitment panel adhering to strict gender equality and equal opportunity rules will be set up consisting of the two supervisors and a third DEEPICE representative. Selection criteria will encompass the potential as Researchers, creativity, level of independence, teamwork ability, knowledge, and communication experience, and availability for the intended start date. The start date of the positions can be as early as June 2021, but all positions must be filled by October 2021.

As the PhD student, you will become part of the Buys Ballot Research School for Fundamental Processes in the Climate System at Utrecht University, of which the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) is a member.


Utrecht University


  • MSc in (environmental) physics, (biogeo-)chemistry, geo or climate science or a related field;
  • solid knowledge in mass spectrometry (preferably PTR-MS);
  • keen interest in (paleo-)climate science;
  • good communicative skills in English, both in speaking and in writing;
  • good programming skills, ideally Python and IDL.

Conditions of employment

  • an opportunity to be part of a team of excellent Researchers who are determined to make a contribution to the climate change issue;
  • a position for 4 years;
  • a full-time gross salary that starts at €2,395 and increases to €3,061 per month in the fourth year (scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.


The Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) offers a unique research and teaching environment, in which the fundamentals of the climate system are studied. Research is organized in five themes: Atmospheric Dynamics, Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry, Coastal and Shelf Sea Dynamics, Ice and Climate and Oceans and Climate. In 2017, IMAU research quality and impact were qualified as 'world-leading' by an international visitation committee. Currently, IMAU employs 15 faculty members, 10 support staff, some 20 Postdocs, and 20 PhD students, and offers a friendly, open, and international atmosphere.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1139091



Domplein 29, 3512 JE, Utrecht

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