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  3. 2 PhD positions in Organic Geochemistry / Microbial Ecology (1.0 FTE)

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2 PhD positions in Organic Geochemistry / Microbial Ecology (1.0 FTE)

The Faculty of Geosciences at Utrecht University is looking for PhD candidates in Organic Geochemistry / Microbial Ecology. Interested? Read more and apply here.

8 maanden geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 - 40 uur
€ 2325 - € 2325 per maand


Within the framework of the NWO Partnership Sand Filtration call, the Department of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, is looking for highly motivated candidates to fill two PhD positions to unravel 'the role of biological activity in the performance of slow sand filters for drinking water treatment'.

In this Partnership programme, the Dutch Research Council (NWO), domain Applied and Engineering Sciences, finances together with the drinking water companies Vitens and Dunea insightful and innovative research in the application of slow and fast sand filters in drinking water treatment. This project at Utrecht University aims at elucidate the internal carbon cycling, the functioning of food webs, and the role of bioturbation in slow sand filters. The goal of the project is to relate detailed insight in the biological activity to the performance of slow sand filters in removing pathogenic microorganisms and detrital organic matter. By this, we aim to optimise the traditional operation of slow sand filters and to open avenues for innovative concepts in using sand filters

The PhD candidates will apply state-of-the-art methods and approaches which are used to investigate the microbial ecology and carbon flows in aquatic, sedimentary environments. This will include stable isotope labelling in combination with compound-specific isotope analysis of biomarkers and the application of nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (nano-SIMS). Characterization of the food web functioning will be combined with experiments on the removal efficiency of slow sand filters regarding pathogenic microorganisms and organic matter.

The project will be performed in collaboration with the Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems and the Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). The project leader will be Dr. Thilo Behrends at Utrecht University. As part of their personal PhD training programmes, the candidates are expected to assist in the teaching programmes of the Department of Earth Sciences for a limited amount of time (~10%).


We are seeking enthusiastic PhD candidates holding an MSc degree (at the start of the contract) in Biology, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, or Environmental/Civil Engineering. Experience in organic geochemistry, isotope analysis, microbial ecology, or chemical laboratory work is helpful but not required.

You are interested in performing fundamental, interdisciplinary research in an applied context. You are an excellent team player as this project requires close collaboration within other projects within the Sand Filtration call. You are expected to communicate scientific knowledge to stake holders and you have excellent written and spoken English skills.


This is an appointment of 1.0 FTE for the duration of initially one year, with extension to four years in total upon a successful assesment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary starts with €2,325 per month in the first year and increases to €2,972 per month in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities) for a full-time employment.

Besides that, you will receive a holiday allowance of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 %. Utrecht University also has an appealing package of terms of employment, including the choice for a good balance between work and private (a good arrangement for leave, among other things), possibilities for development and an excellent pension scheme. More information on working at Utrecht University can be found here.

Facilities for sports and child care are available on our main campus (where the Department of Earth Sciences is situated), which is located only 15 minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Thilo Behrends via T.Behrends@uu.nl.