PhD Position on behaviour and environmental fate of ionizable pollutants

The University of Wageningen has a vacancy for a 4-year PhD Position on the behaviour and environmental fate of ionizable pollutants.

The Job

Are you a talented environmental scientist, soil scientist, biologist, ecologist or ecotoxicologist with demonstrated experience in conducting experimental research? Do you like to collaborate with colleagues who have varying areas of expertise, including analytical chemistry, environmental fate of chemicals, ecology, ecotoxicology, statistics and computer science? Then, this vacancy might be of interest to you.

As a PhD candidate, you will be working within the recently granted four-year horizon Europe project SOILPROM. This project aims to advance pollutant transport and fate models that assess the impact of soil pollution on soil ecosystem services and to support stakeholders to move towards more sustainable land management strategies and policies. Wageningen Environmental Research is one of the partners in this project, which is led by Wageningen University.

You will be working both conceptually and experimentally. The research will focus on the environmental fate of PFAS and other ionizable substances of concern. Adsorption to soil constituents is one of the key aspects affecting the behaviour and transport of such substances.

The research will aim to improve current adsorption models by including pH and ionic strength-dependent adsorption. Plant uptake of these type of chemicals has been recognized as an important pathway for human dietary exposure. Therefore, a mechanistic model of plant uptake and further translocation and dissipation within plants will be developed. Specific attention will be paid to the impact of root distributions in the soil on the uptake of ionizable substances.  Models will be validated against data from use cases in the SOILPROM project.

The work-place

You will be employed by the Environmental Risk Assessment team at Wageningen Environmental Research and supervised by Prof Jan Vanderborght at KU Leuven. You will be supervised by Dr. Steven Droge and Dr. Louise Wipfler from the ERA team and Prof. Jan Vanderborght of the KU Leuven will be your promotor.  

Your project will be embedded in a European project on soil pollution modelling. This will offer you the unique opportunity to profit from an extensive collaborative network and expertise from two key research groups in the field. As a PhD student, you will become part of the Arenberg Doctoral School for Science, Engineering & Technology at KU Leuven which will support you with additional skills and opportunities to develop your academic and professional network.

The Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) team is an interdisciplinary team of ecologists, chemists, modellers and ecotoxicologists and consists of a mixed group of juniors and seniors. The ERA team develops models and conducts experimental research to predict the behaviour of organic contaminants in the environment, and to determine their effects on ecosystems. 

Your profile

You are/ You have:

  • MSc degree in a relevant discipline in environmental sciences, soil sciences, ecology, biology or other relevant fields, from an internationally recognized two-year master’s program;
  • Affinity with the field of soil chemistry and pollutant transport;
  • Affinity with the field of plant physiology;
  • Demonstratable experience in translating observations in mathematical models;
  • Demonstratable experience in conducting experimental research;
  • Basic interest in programming (e.g. R, Python, MATLAB);
  • Good interpersonal skills & being a pleasant team player;
  • Good writing skills;
  • At least C1 level of communication skills (writing and speaking) in English.

They offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • 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 hours by working more;
  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and partially paid parental leave;
  • 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 € 2629,- per month rising to € 3360,- in the fourth year in accordance with the CLA Wageningen Research (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 36 hours.

Further information

For more information about this position, please contact Louise Wipfler (after 1 August 2024) +31 6 12343231, . For more information about the procedure, please contact Noorien Abbas, Corporate Recruiter

You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page. The application deadline is 12 August 2024 and the PhD candidate is expected to start on 1 October 2024.