PhD Position in the Impact of Soil Biota on Enhanced Silicate Weathering in a Bio-Reactor

Wageningen University

PhD Position Impact of Soil Biota on Enhanced Silicate Weathering in a Bio-Reactor

Location Wageningen

We are looking for

Are you a highly motivated and skilled researcher who has affinity with laboratory analysis (chemical and/or biological)? Can you design and coordinate controlled incubation experiments? And can you work both independently and in a multidisciplinary team including soil scientists, geochemists, microbiologists, chemical engineers and data scientists? Then we are looking for you!

As PhD student you will work in a multidisciplinary project on accelerating mineral weathering by biotic activity ( Supported by project partners, you will take the lead in designing, conducting and analysing batch reactor experiments in order to enhance the weathering of silicate minerals, a carbon dioxide removal technology resulting in long-term carbon sequestration. The focus of this PhD project within the larger project is on the role of earthworms in stimulating weathering and on the chemical properties of the reaction products. As PhD student you will also contribute to other parts of the project, including the development of a hybrid reactor at the University of Antwerp.

Preferred starting date is September 1st 2021.

We ask

  • a completed MSc degree in in soil science, (bio)geochemistry, ecology, or a related field;
  • hands-on experience in, or at least a strong affinity with, designing (soil) incubation / batch reactor experiments;
  • interest to collaborate in a multidisciplinary, international team and should be willing to travel regularly to our partner institutes (especially University of Antwerp);
  • excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page;
  • we value experience with the required biological and/or chemical laboratory skills; with conducting statistical analyses as well as scientific writing.

We offer

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

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and 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 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 € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- 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.

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. 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 16th 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. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.
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 helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

More information

For more information about this position please contact Prof. dr. ir. Jan Willem van Groenigen, or Dr. Mathilde Hagens
For more information about the procedure, please contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter,

Do you want to apply?

You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval. Do not send applications by email (!). 

To apply you have to upload a cover letter (max 2 pages) outlining your motivation and suitability for the project and your CV (max 4 pages) including names and contact details of two potential references. You do not need to upload letters of reference.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including Friday 30 April 2021.

Equal opportunities

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment

We are

The Soil Biology Group

The Soil Biology Group blends expertise from the soil, plant and ecological sciences to strengthen cutting edge research and education in the areas of Fertile Soils; Soils in a Changing Climate; Functional Soil Biodiversity and Soil Biological Indicators and Land Management. We have four core themes in which we focus our research: 

  1. The role of soil biota in nutrient cycling to enhance plant soil interactions and associated ecosystem services;
  2. The species richness and community composition of soil biota coupled with soil functions (nutrient provision, carbon management, pest and disease resilience and resistance, water regulation and purification) in (agro)ecosystems;
  3. How soil and land management can enhance soil health and the beneficial soil functions provided by soil biota;
  4. The effects of climate change on soil life, and the controls that soil life exerts on greenhouse gas emissions from the soil.
The Soil Biology Group is supported by four laboratories, including; a soil biology lab, microscopy lab, microbiology lab and molecular ecology lab. We also work in close collaboration with soil chemistry laboratories and with a soil physics lab.

Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Quality group

The Soil Chemistry and Chemical Soil Qualitygroup is engaged in fundamental soil chemical research and education. We seek to develop a generic understanding of processes at the molecular scale and nanoscale, in relation to ecosystem services such as soil fertility, carbon sequestration, and sustainment of soil and groundwater quality. Furthermore, we focus on how these underlying processes and functions are influenced by closing cycles and increasing use of residual/waste materials in the soil environment. We follow a research strategy based on novel experimental/analytical techniques and geochemical model development and application. Our main research themes are:
  1. Soil fertility
  2. Environmental geochemistry
  3. Soil carbon
Our group also runs a large state-of-the-art chemical laboratory and WEPAL, a world-leading organiser of proficiency testing programmes for soil, sediment, plants and organic waste.