PhD position NWA-ORC programme Living on Soft Soils: Coupling microbial oxidation pathways to...

Updated: 10 months ago
Job Type: Temporary
Deadline: 11 Apr 2020

Within the framework of the joint NWA-ORC-programme Living on Soft Soils: Subsidence & Society project of TUDelft, Wageningen University and Research, Deltares Research Institute, TNO, Wageningen Environmental Research and Utrecht University, Utrecht University is seeking a motivated PhD candidate to work on this collaborative research programme.

Programme description

The threat of land subsidence, the knowledge hiatus on process-interplays causing it, and lacking mid- to long-term coping strategies, ask for an integrated research programme that addresses the issue of land subsidence in a holistic way, whereby insights about physical-chemical-biological system functioning, system development, evaluation and implementation of measures as well as an assessment of their governance and legal implications co-evolve. The overall aim of our programme is to develop an integrative approach to achieve feasible, legitimate and sustainable solutions for managing the negative societal effects of land subsidence, connecting fundamental research on subsidence processes to socio-economic impact of subsidence and to governance and legal framework design.

The programme consists of four scientific work packages:

WP1:Measuring and monitoring of land subsidence

WP2: Land subsidence mechanisms and associated greenhouse gas emissions

WP3:Impact analysis of land subsidence

WP4:Measures and governance approaches to cope with land subsidence

The programmw is funded by and contributes to the Dutch Research Agenda – Research along routes by consortia (NWA-ORC) aiming to stimulate research and innovation focused on the NWA routes, designed and implemented by interdisciplinary consortia spanning the entire knowledge chain, in which relevant social partners (Deltares Research Institute, TNO, NAM, Tauw BV, Sweco, Municipality of Gouda, Platform of Soft Soil Municipalities, Province of Utrecht, WDOD, HDSR, STOWA, Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom relations, Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and Wageningen Environmental research) are also represented.

For the work package 2.1 the biology department from Utrecht University is seeking an enthusiastic and motivated PhD candidate who is interested in a project at the interface between microbiology and soil physics. Our project focuses on the change in physical properties of peat soils after microbial oxidation. Using a combination of fieldwork, mesocosm experiments and incubation studies in the laboratory, the candidate will study the effects of microbial oxidation kinetics under aerobic and anaerobic conditions on peat volume, compressibility, water retention and swelling capacity. This study will importantly contribute to our mechanistic knowledge on the vulnerability of different peat types for microbial peat oxidation and the interaction between oxidation and other subsidence processes (shrinkage, creep, consolidation). Knowledge that is urgently needed to make best guess predictions for future subsidence risks. Ultimately this knowledge can be used to design region specific strategies to combat strong subsidence in vulnerable areas. The candidate will work closely with colleagues from Deltares Research Institute.

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