PhD Sustainable densification of urban areas

PhD Sustainable densification of urban areas

Published Deadline Location
11 Sep 1 Oct Amsterdam

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Do you want to make impact on sustainable urban development through research? We offer an exciting PhD project in Geography. Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).

Job description

Are you interested in scientific research in geography and sustainability? We offer a challenging PhD position on sustainable densification of urban areas. You explore their impact on urban green and blue infrastructures. This research project builds on the analysis of very-high resolution satellite imagery. Your task is to develop new algorithms to detect changes in buildings, and in vegetation and water. In addition, you interpret these changes in the context of sustainable urban development, building on literature, and interviews, in addition to the observed changes themselves. With these insights you generate a new understanding of urban development and contribute to solutions towards sustainable development.
You are part of the RUGBIS project, which is a collaboration between the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), the Technical University Delft (TUD) and VU Amsterdam. Your research has an analytical focus, and you collaborate intensively with a fellow PhD candidate at TUD. Their research focuses on the governance of sustainable densification. You work at two locations: you spend about 2 days a week at PBL in The Hague, and also about 2 days a week at VU Amsterdam.
The project is ultimately funded by the government, via the DG International Collaboration (DGIS). Consequently, your work is not limited to producing scientific research. You also communicate with stakeholders of various governmental organizations in the Netherlands. Your research will be relevant to these organizations and provides an exciting opportunity to contribute to sustainable urban development.

Your duties
  • you develop novel algorithms to detect and characterize urban development, based on very-high resolution imagery
  • you analyze urban development trajectories in selected cities in the Global South. You specifically look at densification and the impacts on green and blue infrastructure
  • you present the results of your project in scientific publications and conferences
  • you contribute to project tasks, in particular related to the interaction with governmental stakeholders
  • you assist in teaching at BSc and/or MSc level, for example by supervising thesis candidates and guiding tutorials


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • you have a MSc (or equivalent) in Geography, GIS, Remote Sensing, or another relevant field
  • you have a keen interest in scientific research and in its applications towards sustainable development
  • you have experience in spatial analysis and remote sensing
  • you have experience in (Python) scripting. Knowledge of deep-learning is an asset
  • you have good oral and written communication skills in English
  • since we collaborate closely with Dutch governmental stakeholders, proficiency in Dutch is a strong advantage.

Conditions of employment

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,770 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,539 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.

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  • PhD
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 16136


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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