Two PhD positions: Empirical Research on Plant Growth to constrain Land Ecosystem Models (1.0 FTE)

Updated: about 2 months ago

Two PhD positions: Empirical Research on Plant Growth to constrain Land Ecosystem Models (1.0 FTE)

Functie Understanding the role of terrestrial ecosystems in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and how this is influenced by temperature, CO2, nutrients and soil microbial communities is essential to predict future changes in the Earth’s climate. Ecosystem and Earth System models (ESMs) have been developed to mimic these functions. However, large uncertainties remain in our effort to simulate plant growth. The aim of the overarching LEMONTREE project is to develop a next-generation model of the terrestrial biosphere and its interactions with the carbon and nutrient cycles, water cycle and climate, based on firm theoretical and empirical foundations. The two PhD positions at Utrecht University will contribute to the LEMONTREE project by focusing on empirical research on quantifying the effects of temperature, CO2, nutrients and soil microbes on plant growth, leaf gas exchange, and the time scale of acclimation by photosynthesis traits. Analysing datasets and linking data to model development is also an important component of the position.
LEMONTREE consortium:
The Land Ecosystem Models based On New Theory, obseRvations, and ExperimEnts (LEMONTREE) consortium project is funded by Schmidt Futures and under the umbrella of VESRI, the Virtual Earth System Research Institute. The consortium includes participants from Reading, Imperial College London, Columbia University, the University of Pittsburgh, UC Berkeley, Utrecht University, Seoul National University, Texas Tech University, Tsinghua University, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the UK Met Office and the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts.

Profiel Owing to the interdisciplinary character of the project we are looking for two motivated and creative PhD candidates who are enthusiastic about working in a multidisciplinary research team and capable of integrating and combining knowledge and approaches from the fields of plant-ecophysiology, (computational) plant biology and vegetation modelling. The following points are considered positive aspects in your application: 
  • a Master's degree or an international equivalent in the relevant fields of (computational) biology, ecology, environmental science, hydrology, biophysics, biochemistry, or a closely related field;
  • proven research experience within the field of (computational) plant biology or ecology;
  • proven practical experience with conducting empirical research in the fields of plant-ecophysiology, palaeo-ecology or plant biology;
  • preferably experience in programming and scientific computing;
  • excellent scientific communication skills (written and orally) in English.


You will be offered a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for one year with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary ranges between €2,395 in the first year and €3,061 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions  (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

Over de organisatie

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 utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.
The Copernicus Institute is part of the Faculty of Geosciences. The Copernicus Institute has been evaluated in a 2014 international review as the highest ranked research institute in environmental sciences in the Netherlands. Since then, the institute has intensified its efforts in maintaining its leading position, among other things by investing in several new international faculty appointments and by developing new, internationally oriented teaching programmes. 

Aanvullende informatie For more information about this position, please contact:
Karin Rebel (Associate Professor), via or Hugo de Boer (Assistant Professor) via .

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.

Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

Reageren uiterlijk 06/09/2021
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