PhD-researcher Impact of Biofouling on Microplastic Transport

Wageningen University
March 11, 2023
Offerd Salary:€ 2.541
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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Job description

Do you have a background in Hydrology, Civil Engineering, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences or a related field, and are your eager to do a PhD? Are you interested in combining physical model experiments with computational transport modelling, to improve our understanding of microplastic distribution in the aquatic environment? Would you like to contribute to solving the 'plastic problem'? Then this could be the ideal PhD for you!

Rivers are important transport pathways for microplastics from inland sources to the oceans, but the processes leading to the distribution of microplastics in the fluvial environment still raise many questions. For the freshwater environment, the fate of microplastics is mainly dependent on the particles' settling and rising velocity as well as their resuspension thresholds, which influence the retention potential of the particles. To improve our understanding of these vertical and horizontal transport mechanisms, initial studies on the transport of pristine microplastics have been conducted. However, the transferability of these studies to environmental particles is limited, as time-dependent changes of the particle properties, for example due to biofouling, are suspected to highly influence the transport behavior - although we do not know yet to what extent.

This PhD project therefore seeks to understand the influence of biofouling on the transport of microplastics in the fluvial environment. In combining systematical physical model experiments in the Kraijenhoff van de Leur Laboratory for Water and Sediment Dynamics with computational fate modelling, we aim to improve our understanding and our modelling capabilities of microplastic transport.

You will work here The project is embedded in the Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group (HWM) and the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Group (AEW) here at Wageningen University. You will be supervised by dr. Kryss Waldschläger (HWM), prof. dr. Bart Koelmans (AEW) and dr. Merel Kooi (AEW).


  • A high motivation for cutting edge research in the field of plastic pollution.
  • a Master's degree or an equivalent degree in Earth Sciences, Civil Engineering, Physics, Applied Mathematics or a related field.
  • a strong interest and preferably experience in designing and performing physical model experiments.
  • a strong interest and preferably experience in hydraulic modelling.
  • good organizational, writing and presentation skills and you can work both independently and contribute to the team.
  • commitment to finalise a PhD, combined with a training and supervision trajectory.
  • ability to participate in courses within the Master's programme Earth and Environment, and to supervise MSc-thesis students within the project.
  • excellent command of the English language, both oral and written. Command of the Dutch language is not required;
  • A basic understanding of biological processes is beneficial.
  • ,

    Conditions of employment

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

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and 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 € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- 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 18th consecutive time.

    Coming from abroad WUR is the university and research center 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.

    Equal opportunities 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.


    Employer Wageningen University & Research

    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, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 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 this video to get an idea of our green campus!

    The Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management (HWM) group of Wageningen University is among the absolute top institutes in the World in this field. The AEW group of Wageningen University is world-leading in microplastic science. The groups are part of the Department of Environmental Sciences of Wageningen University. The department's fundamental research and education concern our living environment: nature, landscape, land use, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, water management, and various competing claims on space. Wageningen University is part of Wageningen University & Research.

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


    Additional information

    To learn more about this position, please contact dr. ir. K. Waldschläg [email protected] For questions about the procedure, please contact Noorien Abbas, corporate recruiter, [email protected]

    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. Please restrict your application to a letter of motivation (max. two pages) and your academic CV. Applications without a letter of motivation and without mentioning the project will not be considered.

    This vacancy will be listed up to and including March 3, 2023. We hope to schedule the first job interviews from 13 March, 2023. The preferred starting date for this position is May 1, 2023, or soon after that date.

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