PhD Candidate Investigating linkages between water hyacinth, water quality, and human health in Zimbabwe

University of Twente
November 25, 2023
Offerd Salary:€ 2,770
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
Working type:N/A
Ref info:N/A

The University of Twente wants to be an organisation that optimally deploys diversity, talents, and capabilities in the labour market for now and in the future. In the framework of our diversity and inclusiveness policy, we strongly stimulate people with a (work) disability to apply for this position.

The University of Twente is committed to providing a working environment where everyone is valued, respected, and supported to progress. Our priority is to ensure that no one is disadvantaged based on their ethnicity, gender, culture, disability, LGBTQ+ identities, family and caring responsibilities, age, or religion. We encourage everyone who shares these values to apply.

Your challenge

Water hyacinth is a free-floating plant that has invaded water bodies worldwide. It thrives in nutrient-rich waters and disrupts riparian communities by entangling fishing nets, blocking ship traffic, clogging drains and outlets, and preventing access to water. It may even be associated with disease transmission, by forming a habitat for vectors bearing diseases like malaria or schistosomiasis. But water hyacinth offers opportunities as well as a source of income, or possibly as a predictor of water-related diseases.

The position aims to improve our understanding of links between water hyacinth and human health to increase lake community resilience to water-related diseases. This will be achieved by using state-of-the-science geospatial data analysis coupled with local health-related knowledge and perceptions.

You will work on water hyacinth (WHY) risk assessment based on syndromic surveillance and mapping survey data of lake communities, work on the evaluation of perceived effects of WHY infestation and water quality based on surveys and interviews with partners, and work on systematic investigation of WHY implications on water quality and human health using satellite-based data. Besides that, you will also work on the development of a water-related disease-prediction tool, and on the creation of a smartphone application to educate local communities on the health implications of WHY and water quality. The collection of empirical data at the study site forms an integral part of your research, and you will conduct several research visits to Zimbabwe throughout the project.

You will collaborate with a PhD student working on satellite-based detection and prediction of WHY occurrence (also based at ITC/University of Twente), and with another PhD student focusing on possibilities of WHY exploitation, based at the University of Western Cape in South Africa.

Your profile
  • MSc degree in Geo-information sciences, Medical or Health Geography, GeoHealth, (Aquatic) Ecology, or another relevant field
  • Experience with empirical data collection and analysis, using mixed quantitative and qualitative methods including surveys, spot checks, and in-depth interviews
  • Interest in topics such as water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH), water- related infectious diseases and health, biodiversity, (aquatic) ecology, climate change, and water management
  • Ability or willingness to learn to work with different partners and aware of cultural diversity
  • A creative problem-solver with an analytical mind
  • A critical and reflective demeanour
  • Good communication skills
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English
  • Love to apply your skills to improve the lives of people affected most by pollution and climate change
  • Some affinity with Zimbabwe and southern Africa is an advantage
  • Our offer
  • An inspiring multidisciplinary, international and academic environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda
  • Full-time position for 4 years
  • A professional and personal development programme within Twente Graduate School
  • Gross monthly salary of € 2,770.- in the first year that increases to € 3,539.- in the fourth year
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%
  • Excellent support for research and facilities for professional and personal development
  • A solid pension scheme
  • A total of 41 holiday days per year in case of full-time employment
  • Excellent working conditions, an exciting scientific environment, and a green and lively campus
  • Information and application

    For more information about the position, you are encouraged to contact Dr Marloes Penning de Vries (email: [email protected]). You are also invited to visit our homepage.

    Please submit your application before November 25, 2023. Your application should include:

  • A motivation letter (maximum 2 pages of A4), emphasizing your specific interest, qualifications and motivation to apply for this position
  • Curriculum Vitae (including a list of grades of your BSc and MSc education)
  • A short description (150 – 250 words) of your MSc research
  • 1st round interviews are tentatively scheduled for the last week of November. A possible 2nd round interview will be scheduled when needed.

    About the department

    The Department of Water Resources (WRS) studies water systems and their relation with land use and climate through remote sensing, field instrumentation and modelling. We aim at capacity building of communities of water professionals, scientists and engineers that work toward a sustainable and resilient living environment.

    About the organisation

    The Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) provides international postgraduate education, research and project services in the field of geo-information science and earth observation. Our mission is capacity development, where we apply, share and facilitate the effective use of geo-information and earth observation knowledge and tools for tackling global wicked problems. Our purpose is to enable our many partners around the world to track and trace the impact – and the shifting causes and frontiers – of today's global challenges. Our vision is of a world in which researchers, educators, and students collaborate across disciplinary and geographic divides with governmental and non-governmental organisations, institutes, businesses, and local populations to surmount today's complex global challenges and to contribute to sustainable, fair, and digital societies.

    Want to know more? Penning de Vries, M.J.M. (Marloes)

    Assistant Professor

    Penning de Vries, M.J.M. (Marloes)

    Assistant Professor

    Do you have questions about this vacancy? Then you can contact Marloes for all substantive questions about this position and the application procedure. For general questions about working for the UT, please refer to the chatbot.



    Email:[email protected]

    How to apply Step 1

    Apply. When you see a vacancy that appeals to you, you can apply online. We ask you to upload a CV and motivation letter and/or list of publications. You will receive a confirmation of receipt by e-mail.

    Step 2

    Selection. The selection committee will review your application and you will receive a response within 2 weeks after the vacancy has been closed.

    Step 3

    1st interview. The 1st (online or in person) meeting serves as an introduction where we introduce ourselves to you and you to us. You may be asked to give a short presentation. This will be further explained in the invitation.

    Step 4

    2nd interview. In the second interview, we will further discuss the job content, your skills and your talents.

    Step 5

    The offer. If the conversations are positive, you will be made a suitable offer.

    Your Colleagues
  • Rietbroek, R. (Roelof)
  • Personal page

  • Chavarro Rincon, D.C. (Diana)
  • Personal page

  • Zeng, Y. (Yijian)
  • Personal page

  • Our mission Human Touch
  • At the UT it's all about people, in line with our university's High Tech Human Touch philosophy. In everything we do, the well-being and future of our students and staff are paramount. From research and teaching to personnel management, campus management and the use of new technologies.

  • Our mission We are a university of technology
  • Our university is a public institution that serves society. We are accountable to society for the ways in which we use our academic freedom. We are responsible for ensuring that the power of science and technology is harnessed to achieve the best possible impact in a changing world. We cherish our rich tradition of combining technical and social sciences in our five profiling themes: Improving healthcare by personalized technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

  • Our mission We help to strengthen society
  • We help society meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. But we are also transparent about what science and technology can and cannot do in finding sustainable solutions. And help translate these solutions into everyday life.

  • Our mission We are sustainable
  • We want our communities to flourish and show resilience, so we seize opportunities for innovation. We are knowledgeable and have an eye for what society needs. Our students and staff receive all the guidance they need in their quest for ecological, social and economic sustainability. “The University of Twente is all about people. Our sustainable technologies help to strengthen society.”

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