PhD position in Multi-scale Water Quality Modeling for Climate Resilient Wastewater Management

Updated: 27 days ago
Deadline: 25 Mar 2024

Your job

Do you have enthusiasm for an interdisciplinary PhD research project that contributes to the transition of wastewater management in urban and rural setting to address the challenges of water pollution amidst growing population, increasing wealth, and climate change? Do you have a strong interest in developing and applying integrated modelling approaches to design and assess new wastewater management systems? If that's the case, an exciting job opportunity is waiting for you!

The Earth Systems and Global Change group, Wageningen University, is looking for a motivated PhD candidate to join an interdisciplinary research project focused on “Multi-scale Water Quality Modeling for Climate Resilient Wastewater Management (WWM)”.

This project aims to address the limited understanding in the impacts of future social-economic changes and climate extremes on sewage flows and treatment in cities/towns. This project also aims to assess the interactions between WWM for agriculture (including crops and livestock) and domestic WWM in rural and urban (upstream-downstream) environments, which are vital to understanding the overall effectiveness of WWM. You should have an interest in integrated modeling that combines models from disciplines (water quality and GIS) and in working with large datasets and numerical models.

As part of this project, you will be involved in the following two key objectives:

  • estimate future wastewater flows and treatment (using nitrogen as the first model pollutant) in the case study areas in China and the Netherlands under incumbent WWM systems;
  • investigate the interactions (synergies and trade-offs) between WWM systems for manure and sewage in the context of rural-urban environments.

You will first modify a WWM model at WUR using techniques such as GIS-based (Geographic Information System) modelling to consider future spatial-explicit socioeconomic dynamics and climate change in planning optimal WWM infrastructure/technology. Next, you will develop a novel water quality modelling framework by combing this new WWM model at the administrative scale (cities/towns) with a water quality model at the biogeophysical scale (nutrient flows from upstream to downstream).

With this scale integration, you will identify interactions between manure and sewage treatment in rural-urban environments. These interactions could be, for example, the impacts of livestock manure management in (upstream) rural regions on increasing or decreasing the treatment burden of wastewater treatment plants in (downstream) cities for clean water supply.

The novelty of this project lies in the multi-scale water quality modelling approach that combines administrative scale (cities/towns) and biogeophysical scale (upstream to downstream of rivers). Using the multiscale water quality model, this project will contribute to identifying optimal WWM options for the case study regions under future socio-economic and climate changes (e.g., where and what technologies are for treating sewage or manure).

Your duties and responsibilities in this role will include:

  • conducting research and analysis within the framework of the project;
  • collaborate with other researchers within the FOREWARD project to which this project is affiliated;
  • publishing research results in peer-reviewed journals;
  • write a doctoral thesis based on the research findings.

Your qualities

You have:

  • ability to work independently and as part of a team;
  • good organizational and communication skills;
  • basic knowledge of biogeochemical cycles of nutrients in land-river systems, wastewater treatment and animal manure management and treatment;
  • ability to publish research results in peer-reviewed academic journals;

You must also possess:
  • a successfully completed MSc degree in environmental sciences
  • proven skills in quantitative modelling or data analysis (e.g. ArcGIS or R/python)
  • enthusiasm for collaborating with an interdisciplinary team of researchers with diverse backgrounds and disciplines;
  • potential to develop skills regarding research design, quantitative, qualitative and/or spatial-temporal methods for data collection, and quantitative (statistical) and/or qualitative approaches to data analysis and presentation;
  • the entry requirements of the WUR PhD programme;
  • enthusiasm to do a PhD project at Wageningen University.

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 


. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found



You will work here
This research position is embedded within the Earth Systems and Global Change Group , led by Prof.dr. Carolien Kroeze . You will be co-supervised by Dr Mengru Wang from the Earth Systems and Global Change Group and Dr Weishan Chen from the Environmental Technology Group , who will provide guidance and support throughout the project.

We offer you

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

  • 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 € 2.770 - per month rising to € 3.539,-  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 19th 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.

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 for example helping your partner to find a job, housing, or schooling.

Finally, certain categories of international staff may be eligible for a tax exemption on a part of their salary during the first five years in the Netherlands.

Do you want more information?

For more information about this position, please contact Mengru Wang, Assistant Professor, by email: [email protected] .

For more information about the procedure, please Noorien Abbas, corporate recruiter, by email: [email protected]

Do you want to apply?
Are you interested in this position and do you fit the qualifications? To apply, please send the following:

  • a complete and up-to-date curriculum vitae (max. 2 pages);
  • a motivation letter (max. 2 pages).

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.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 25 March 2024. We hope to schedule the first job interviews soon after the closing date.

Additional information form
For this position, you must fill in a mandatory form  which will allow us to have a comprehensive view of your qualifications and better assess your fit for it. You can access the form using the link below:

Your prompt response will ensure that your application continues to move forward in the evaluation process. We assure you that the information provided will be kept confidential and used solely for this application process.

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. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment .

We are

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, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 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!

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

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