Assistant Professor in Numerical Modelling of Coupled Subsurface Processes (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

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Assistant Professor in Numerical Modelling of Coupled Subsurface Processes (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

Assistant Professor in Numerical Modelling of Coupled Subsurface Processes (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

Job description

The global energy landscape is rapidly changing. The Department of Earth Sciences (DES) at Utrecht University is strengthening its research and educational programme in the field of Sustainable Subsurface Use. The faculty seeks to build upon existing expertise in research and teaching to understand the impact of sustainable subsurface activities, such as heat production, energy storage and waste storage, in the areas of rock mechanics, (reactive) fluid flow and (bio)geochemistry. This area of research is part of a broader palette of expertise in the area of Earth sciences and sustainability that encompasses, among others, water scarcity and environmental quality, natural hazards, energy transitions, food security, sustainable cities, sustainable business and innovation science. Research into these themes is organized under the university wide theme “Pathways to Sustainability ”
We are looking for a highly-motivated and enthusiastic colleague to strengthen and complement our research and education in sustainable subsurface energy. The key to tackling leading-edge issues in subsurface energy is integrating multi-scale observations and experiments with state-of-the-art simulations coupling thermal, hydrological, mechanical, and (bio-)chemical (THMC) regimes. Ultimately these models will result in reliable upscaling formulations that combine pore- and grain-scale behaviour with reservoir scale processes, hence being able to make quantitative assessments of, for example, the impact of fluid injection and/or production or the impact of microbial systems.
Ideally, your research lines develop in synergy with an enthusiastic group of scientists at the DES utilizing existing expertise in multi-scale THMC processes and numerical modelling (link to DES website). You are also encouraged to collaborate with research groups that focus on experiments and multi-scale imaging, allowing you to validate your numerical models. At the same time, scientific freedom is at the heart of what we do, so new frontier research projects are encouraged. These research endeavors will be jump-started with faculty-wide grant application support. As such, it is desired to contribute to the acquisition and execution of individual and team-based research projects.
As an assistant professor, you will not only contribute to the supervision of early career scientists such as PhD candidates and postdocs, but also play an essential role in education by inspiring students and developing innovative courses. Potential educational involvement includes quantitative Bachelor and Master courses.

The department hosts extensive computing infrastructure and access to the Dutch National Supercomputer upon application. The department also hosts advanced laboratory facilities, as well as world-class multi-scale electron and X-ray imaging facilities. These facilities are included in the new Earth Simulation Laboratory cluster , which also contains a high pressure & temperature lab and an analogue modelling lab, a paleomagnetic lab, several flume facilities, and are complemented with excellent analytical facilities, including well-equipped stable isotope and organic geochemical laboratories .

Our current research in the area of Sustainable Subsurface Use focusses on a broad range of activities, including geothermal energy production, temporary or seasonal storage of hydrogen fuel, long-term storage of CO2 and radioactive waste, and (wellbore) leakage and monitoring. Your future colleagues are working on fundamental questions in these areas, such as the impact of fluid-rock interactions on mechanical and transport properties through experimentation, (in-situ) imaging and pore-scale modelling, monitoring of fluid flow and changing field properties through AI-based up- and down-scaling of observations, and predicting seismic hazards using seismo-thermo-mechanical models. We welcome your expertise to build further on this basis with us!


We are looking for a collaborative expert in state-of-the-art numerical modelling of coupled phenomena in the context of thermo-hydro-mechano-(bio)chemical processes in the Earth’s shallow subsurface. As a successful candidate you should:

  • have a PhD in Earth or Natural Sciences, Engineering, or a closely related field;
  • be skilled in state-of-the-art numerical modelling of coupled processes at the continuum scale to understand and upscale reservoir processes (mesoscale and up) in rocks and geomaterials;
  • have strong affinity with energy and sustainability topics, such as storage of new fluids (e.g. H2 , CO2 );
  • be a strong team player committed to multi- and interdisciplinary research in an open environment with scientists with various backgrounds, such as experimentation, observations, and computation, to build and validate subsurface system models;
  • have an outstanding record of academic research, as reflected in high-quality scientific output;
  • have strong communication, networking and organizational skills;
  • have experience and skills in academic teaching, from the undergraduate to PhD levels;
  • have obtained a basic teaching qualification (at Utrecht University or equivalent), or be willing to obtain this qualification in the near future;
  • ideally be experienced with or interested in performing mechanical or transport-related experiments;
  • have industry connections or be interested in building a network with industry;
  • have a keen eye for public outreach.


We offer a position (0.8 - 1.0 FTE) as an Assistant Professor for a probationary period of 18 months. Permanent employment will be offered based upon good performance, according to the Faculty’s performance indicators, after 18 months. The Faculty of Geosciences has an excellent merit-based career and promotion policy. As part thereof, career development up to Associate Professor (level 2) is possible without a so called ‘formation principle’, yet based on performance. The gross monthly starting salary – depending on qualifications and experience - ranges between €3,974 and €5,439 (scale 11 of the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities) for a full-time employment. 
Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. In addition, you will have access to all equipment in our state-of-the-art laboratory infrastructure, coaching for teaching and supervision of researchers, and training and support regarding the acquisition of external funds. Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions , including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University . Facilities for childcare and sports are available on campus.

About the organization

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University , the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilization of the Earth - with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organization. The Faculty of Geosciences is organized in four departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

Additional information
For more information about this position, please contact Prof Jack Middelburg (Head of Department) via
You are also invited to join our online information session via Microsoft Teams on:
  • Wednesday 26 October between 13.00 - 14.30 CEST.
    Please send an email to Sophie Ketting via if you want to participate in the meeting. The Teams link will then be sent to you.

You can ask us about our profiles and tasks of the offered position, the possibilities of professional development, and moving to and living in Utrecht (housing, visa, schools, partner opportunities). We look forward to meeting you!

Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. 
To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the ‘apply’ button below. 

The application deadline is
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