PhD Development of Workflow to Select Functional, Safe and Sustainable Chemical Alternatives

PhD Development of Workflow to Select Functional, Safe and Sustainable Chemical Alternatives

Published Deadline Location
23 Mar 17 Apr Amsterdam

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Job description

Are you interested in how to develop safer chemicals, in order to reduce environmental pollution? Are you looking for a PhD position where you can develop your academic career, while also working closely with public and private stakeholders? Then join our interactive and interdisciplinary team of researchers on environmental chemistry and toxicology, embedded in the broader context of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics for a four-year PhD position.

This PhD position is part of the NWO Dutch Research Agenda (NWA) TOSS project, which focuses on putting into practice integrated tools to select and produce safe and sustainable alternatives for problematic persistent and mobile toxic substances. Safe and Sustainable by Design (SSbD) is a promising approach to develop new substances, however, well-elaborated tools to guide the selection of SSbD alternatives that fulfil the desired function in a given application are still in early stages of development. You will be working in an interdisciplinary team of experts at the forefront of SSbD development, and your work will yield tangible results that directly can benefit to a more sustainable society.

What are you going to do?

Your work will contribute to the development and application of a workflow to obtain a high-potential shortlist with in silico generated structure suggestions to select for functional, safe and sustainable alternatives to PMTs, in particular in consumer products. This workflow will make use of existing information and complemented with in vitro and in silico tools, and takes into account key aspects of functionality (e.g. water and fat repellence, fire retardancy). Furthermore it will consider trade-offs between safety/sustainability and functionality. It will increase the efficiency of SSbD by indicating directions and high-potential alternatives, and is co-created together with stakeholders. The workflow will help industry to include considerations of safety and sustainability in a systematic way during the design and production of new chemicals, products and processes.

Together with your supervisory team, your work will consist of;
  • Conceptual development:
  • Develop a workflow to select chemicals for (re)design with in silico generated alternatives structure suggestions;
  • Semi-automatically in-silico prediction of PMBT (persistency, mobility, bioaccumulation and toxicity) parameters and transformation products for the alternatives;
  • Elaborate and feed databases for functionality;
  • Filter generated structure suggestions to obtain a high-potential shortlist of functional, safe and sustainable alternatives to problematic PMTs.
  • Application:
  • Select cases of problematic chemicals used in consumer products to be redesigned;
  • Test alternatives for their persistency under environmentally representative conditions;
  • Refined evaluation of PMT properties and functionality based on generated experimental data.
  • Evaluation:
  • Based on the practical experiences, in co-creation with the stakeholders further refinement of workflow;
  • Discussions on trade-off between safety and functionality.
Tasks and responsibilities:
  • Conduct research, resulting in academic publications in peer-reviewed international journals;
  • Actively contribute to the research network of the research group, and of the TOSS project;
  • Supervise Bachelor and Master theses and tutore students.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


  • MSc in Environmental Science, Chemistry, Risk assessment, Sustainability Science, Cheminformatics, or a related field;
  • Proven computational and laboratory skills e.g. in analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, environmental toxicology;
  • You can think in and work with interdisciplinary research approaches, you have an affinity with integrated environmental assessment and systems thinking;
  • Proven academic research experience, for example as part of thesis;
  • Affinity with working as a team player;
  • You enjoy conducting collaborative research with societal impact;
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English.

Conditions of employment

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). The preferred starting date is as soon as possible. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,541 to € 3,247 (scale P). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. The UFO profile PhD Candidate is applicable. A favourable tax agreement, the '30% ruling', may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park we offer you multiple fringe benefits:
  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • a complete educational program for PhD students as offered by UvA, the research consortium and the graduate school PERC;
  • multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • partly paid parental leave;
  • the possibility to set up a workplace at home;
  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • help with your registration at UvA Staff Housing (application for a studio or small apartment when you're moving from abroad).
Are you curious to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here.


Faculty of Science

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Together, we create a vibrant, challenging and well-equipped research environment at Amsterdam Science Park. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the systems underlying biological processes.

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. The research at IBED aims to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. At its core lies an integrated systems approach to study biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment. IBED adopts this systems approach to ecosystems, addressing abiotic and biotic factors, and the interplay between those. The IBED vision includes research encompassing experimental and theoretical approaches at a wide variety of temporal and spatial scales, i.e. from molecules and microorganisms to patterns and processes occurring at the global scale. The University of Amsterdam has excellent high performance computing facilities. Furthermore, IBED has a dedicated computational support team with specialized knowledge of bioinformatics, (geo)database management and scientific programming. IBED also works with non-academic partners to deliver transdisciplinary science for society.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €2541 per month
  • University graduate
  • 11394


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Science Park 904, 1098XH, Amsterdam

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