PhD position Modelling socio-environmental feedbacks for resilient landscapes

PhD position Modelling socio-environmental feedbacks for resilient landscapes

Published Deadline Location
7 Jan 31 Jan Wageningen

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Job description

Are you keen to contribute to a resilient climate-proof and sustainable future for the Dutch sandy soil landscapes? Would you like to model feedback mechanisms at landscape scale, taking into account both biophysical and socio-economic factors, to investigate the resilience of such landscapes? Then you could be the ideal PhD candidate to join our team!

We are hiring a PhD candidate for a 4-year project that aims at quantifying feedback mechanisms that create stability (negative feedbacks) or instability (positive feedbacks) in both current and possible future situations for the Dutch sandy soil landscapes. The project builds on the notion that a new balance is required to adapt to climate change and reverse biodiversity decline. Quantitative understanding of how such new landscapes could function, from biophysical and socio-economic perspectives, is currently limited. In this project we aim to solve this problem. You will develop spatial models to identify basins of attraction that represent climate-resilient and sustainable landscape 'states', and together with other project members and stakeholders you will use these models to identify pathways towards preferred future states.

Your PhD project is part of the 'CASTOR (Catchment Strategies Towards Resilience): Dutch Pleistocene Landscapes in the Anthropocene' project, which is funded through the NWA program of Dutch Research funding organization NWO (project description available upon request). CASTOR is a collaborative and interdisciplinary project in which Wageningen University collaborates with other universities (UTwente, TUDelft), research institutes (WENR, Deltares, KWR), water boards, drinking water company Vitens and the ministry of Infrastructure and Water management. Two post-docs and four PhD candidates will be employed for the project supported by a diverse team of academic staff members (ranging from soil geography, to integrated water management, planning and governance). You should be motivated to function in an interdisciplinary research environment and to interact and collaborate with diverse partners. You are expected to communicate results with scientific peers as well as with partners and the general public.

You will be part of the Soil Geography & Landscape group of Wageningen University, and will join the PhD program of the PE&RC graduate school. This environment, in combination with the embedding in a large transdisciplinary project, gives you all opportunities to develop new skills and kick-start your academic career. If you are a highly motivated and skilled researcher who is excited by the prospect of quantifying new balances at landscape scale for coupled human-natural systems; if you like working both independently and in a multidisciplinary team; if you are looking for a challenge, we are looking for you!


Wageningen University & Research


  • A completed (or about to be completed) MSc degree in computational earth or environmental science, ecology or a related field;
  • Affinity with coupled socio-environmental systems and modelling feedbacks in space and time;
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a multi-disciplinary team to collaboratively do transdisciplinary research;
  • Preferably experience with geo-information software and programming languages, such as QGIS and statistical computing;
  • Strong communication skills, both oral and written. Additional information on required English language proficiency is available here;
  • You are a creative, communicative and intrinsically motivated colleague who takes initiatives.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • 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 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 € 2.434,- per month rising to € 3.111,- 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.

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. 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 The Netherlands and at a university that has been chosen as the "Best University" in the Netherlands for the 17th 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. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family. 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 helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

WUR employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who encourage and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of Wageningen University and 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, 6.800 employees and 12.900 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen's unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

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


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 846912


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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