PhD position in HybridLabs - Combining floating offshore energy with nature inclusive seafood production; focus on suspended shellfish culture and benthic organisms

PhD position in HybridLabs - Combining floating offshore energy with nature inclusive seafood production; focus on suspended shellfish culture and benthic organisms

Published Deadline Location
13 May 10 Jun Wageningen

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Job description

Are you interested in integration of offshore energy and seafood production and potential biodiversity benefits? If yes, then we may have the perfect opportunity for you!

Scientific context
Increasing demand for sustainable energy production is leading to rising numbers of offshore structures for renewable energy production. At the same time, the demand for sustainable animal proteins from the sea is increasing and the marine biodiversity is under pressure. Ideally, nature inclusive shellfish production can be combined with offshore energy production. A promising option is combining suspended shellfish culture underneath floating offshore structures. The seafloor will then be protected from bottom trawling and in combination with biodeposition from the shellfish, reef structures are expected to develop. This will provide food and habitat to many other species enhancing biodiversity at the sea floor and in the water column in between the mussels. The gently fertilized seafloor may also provide harvestable benthic seafood species.

Research questions concerning the multi-use floating support structure for renewable energy production and food/ecological enhancement are: Can we harness the dynamics of floating renewables to enrich the offshore food transition by combining suspended mussel and oyster culture under floating support structures with seafloor enriched sustainable seafood productivity (including lobster, brown crab, langoustine/cod/seabass) that can be harvested in a nature-safe way? In collaboration with more technical partners a nature-safe harvesting approach can be designed.

The PhD project will study the biodiversity development among the shellfish cultures and how these cultures will enrich the seafloor. To this end shellfish production will be related to the quantity and quality of biodeposits produced, the size-dependent sinking velocity of the faecal pellets and dispersion and fate of the biodeposits. Depending on the research question lab-, mesocosm- or field-experiments will be set up. The uptake rate of particles of different sizes will be determined. The chemical composition of feces and pseudofaces will be compared with seston samples and studied microscopically. Biodiversity development and food sources of benthic organisms underneath the structures will be investigated using stable isotopes.

The current PhD project is part of a large NWA-ORC project HybridLabs, which aims at facilitating a faster development and deployment of technologies supporting energy, food, and ecological transitions by innovation in the design, control, monitoring, and logistics of offshore renewables while exploring nature enhancement and opportunities for novel sustainable food production.

You will work here
The PhD candidate will be based at the Marine Animal Ecology (MAE) group in Wageningen, with some experimental work at Wageningen Marine Research in Yerseke. The candidate will work together with a postdoc from MAE and a PhD candidate from the Cultural Geography Group. They will assess the biodiversity developments on and underneath the floating structure using the novel biodiversity monitoring box and study how to use 360 videography and extended realities for citizen science and citizen and stakeholder engagement and adaptation. A number of offshore shellfish production pilots are currently carried out in the North Sea area (e.g. ULTFARMS). These provide opportunities for cross pollination.

Please also see our another PhD vacancy in HybridLabs Immersive experiences for communication and stakeholder engagement for North Sea Ecology


Wageningen University & Research


You are/have:
  • strong interest in science;
  • completed or about to be completed a MSc degree or similar in a relevant field of biology, ecology, or environmental science;
  • a strong interest in experimental work in the lab, in mesocosms and the field;
  • prior experience with shellfish and/or foodweb functioning is a benefit;
  • good organization skills and ability to work in a team are essential.

Your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. More information can be found here

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
    • partially 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 compensation / 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 € 2.770 - per month rising to € 3.539,- 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.

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 Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 19th 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.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family. Therefore, we expect that when you join WUR from abroad, you will actually live in the Netherlands.

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 for example helping your partner to find a job, housing, or schooling.

Finally, certain categories of international staff may be eligible for a tax exemption on a part of their salary during the first five years in the Netherlands.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of Wageningen University & 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, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

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

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • P1516617-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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