Postdoc position on “Identification of emerging persistent, mobile (PM) substances by effect-directed analysis (EDA)”

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: ;

Are you an analytical chemist/toxicologist, who is passionate about environmental research for the protection of human health and the environment?Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

Persistent, mobile (PM) substances are being recognized as serious threats to the safety of drinking water resources. The most notorious example of PM substances are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), but there are numerous others. This worldwide problem has triggered new policy and monitoring actions and the European Green Deal contains a broad initiative for chemical and water regulations for PM substances. As part of this effort, a new, wide-reaching European Research project called ZeroPM (Zero Pollution of Persistent, Mobile substances) will start in October 2021. ZeroPM will interlink and synergize prevention, prioritization and removal strategies to protect the environment and human health from PM substances.

The successful post-doctoral candidate will identify PM substances with relevant bioactivity that emerge in the drinking water production process. Surface water, raw water, and water after different treatment technologies in full-scale water works will be collected and concentrated before it is tested in selected in vitro bioassays. Bioassays will be performed on water extracts as such and on water extracts eluting from a liquid chromatography (LC) column in a high-resolution fraction collector. Extracts will also undergo non-target screening (NTS) using LC high resolution tandem mass spectrometry (LC-HR-MS/MS). Features with retention times corresponding to the bioactive fractions will be identified by comparison to target analyses performed by collaborating ZeroPM partners and by suspect screening against mass spectral libraries and other databases according to an in-house developed identification strategy. The identity of the putatively identified suspect compounds will be confirmed by LC-HR-MS/MS, their bioactivity in the bioassay, and their PM properties by their physico-chemical properties and by in silico predictions performed by collaborating ZeroPM partners.

The postdoc will be employed at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA) - Department of
Environment and Health (The Netherlands). The department covers three disciplines, i.e. analytical chemistry, toxicology and epidemiology. Outstanding qualities in the mono-disciplinary cornerstones yield excellent opportunities for multi- and transdisciplinary research and education. Integration leads to greater insight and discoveries and is essential to cover the complete pathway from the source of the contaminants to adverse health outcomes. Within ZeroPM, international collaboration is foreseen in particular with the German Water Centre and Norwegian Geotechnical Institute. Come join our team and make a meaningful impact on healthy living.

Your duties

  • Run in vitro bioassays on water extracts before and after high-resolution fractionation
  • Perform non-target chemical screening on water extracts
  • Collaborate with ZeroPM partners regarding sample collection, target analysis, and PM property assessment
  • Give regular progress updates at ZeroPM project meetings and group meetings
  • Supervise BSc and MSc students doing an internship or literature study within the ZeroPM project
  • Write progress reports and scientific papers

  • PhD degree in chemistry with experience in life sciences, or vice versa
  • knowledge of and experience with NTS, LC-HR-MS/MS, and identification strategies
  • affinity with in vitro toxicity testing, preferably with cell culturing techniques
  • high energy multi-tasker with exquisite attention to detail
  • ability to work independently and in collaboration with others
  • strong oral and written communication skills in English

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of € 3,408 (scale 10.4) and a maximum €4,474 (scale 10), depending on your education and experience. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The initial employment contract will affect a period of 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 2 years
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
  • contribution to commuting expenses

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until

7 November 2021.

The anticipated starting date will be not later than March 1st, 2022.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. ir. Timo Hamers
Position: Associate professor
Telephone: +31 20 59 89529


Name: Prof. Dr. Majorie van Duursen
Position: Professor
Telephone: +31 20 59 86621

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