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A post-doctoral researcher in soil microbiology as part of the new NWO-TTW Open Mind project Skin Care for Mother Earth. The project focuses on restoring the health of soils that have suffered from desertification using, among other things, appropriate soil microbes. Your work will focus on the proof of principle that microbes influence soil physical properties and improve soil wettability, water infiltration capacity and soil water retention. Your main tasks will be threefold: (1) find promising soil microbiological communities; (2) determine how microbiology affects soil physical properties; (3) investigate how indigenous microbiology and organic materials can be used to restore degraded topsoil in desertified areas. Your work will result in a peer-reviewed paper and provide input for further research proposals.
According to the UN, desertification ranks among the greatest environmental challenges of our time. One third of all land is currently threatened by desertification and more fertile soil is lost every year. Desertification affects areas at all latitudes, on all continents, in at least 110 countries. It is estimated that 50 million people may be displaced in the next decade due to desertification. Solutions that truly restore fertile topsoil, the Earth's living skin, in a short amount of time are urgently needed. One of the limitations to current approaches to soil restoration is the lack of life in the soil. The Skin Care for Mother Earth project is based on the view that soil microbiology may be the missing link to bringing the soil back to life. Soil microbes enable the colonization of land by plants, and throughout evolution microbes developed a wide array of functions in soils. Skin Care for Mother Earth therefore aims to investigate 1) how microbiology can be used to improve soil hydrological properties and 2) how indigenous microbiology and organic materials can be used to restore degraded topsoil in desertified areas. The project will be carried out at the Soil Physics and Land Management Group and Soil Biology Group of Wageningen University by Dr. Martine van der Ploeg (Project leader) in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Gerlinde De Deyn of the Soil Biology Group.
Wageningen University & Research
- You have a PhD in (soil) microbiology.
- Preferably you have experience with the research of soil hydrology as well.
- You are a skilled experimentalist and will be able to apply these abilities to the present subject.
- You are an enthusiastic researcher interested in looking beyond the boundaries of your own discipline and joining efforts with the other members of the project team.
- You are proficient in English, have excellent oral and written communication skills, and the ability to work efficiently as an individual as well as in a team.
- Considering the short period of this proof of principle project, we ask for full-time commitment and will expect you to not work on other projects at the same time during working hours.
We are committed to and look for colleagues who - in their scholarship, teaching, and service - demonstrate experience with, knowledge of, and sensitivity to diversity and inclusion.
Conditions of employment
A full-time employment (38 hours per week) or part-time employment position as researcher within the Soil Physics and Land Management Group for 8 months, starting as soon as possible. Salary depends on skills and experience, with a maximum of € 3.389 per month. In addition we offer a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%.
Wageningen University & Research
The Soil Physics and Land Management (SLM) chair group and The Soil Biology Group of Wageningen University, which conduct research on soil physical and hydrological processes and on soil biology at different temporal and spatial scales, and their central role in sustainable land and water management. Our mission is to advance understanding of the impacts of land use and management on soil physical and biological processes and related ecosystem functions that are essential for addressing global societal challenges of water and food security, sustainable land management, and climate adaptation.
Wageningen University and Research Centre
Delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus - each and every day. Within our domain of good and safe food & food production, food security and a healthy living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society - such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don't do this alone. Every day, 5000 people work on 'the quality of life', turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.