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  3. PhD position on non-destructive 3D characterization and 4D monitoring of microbial-induced pore-scale processes inside stone (4 yrs) (1.0 FTE)

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PhD position on non-destructive 3D characterization and 4D monitoring of microbial-induced pore-scale processes inside stone (4 yrs) (1.0 FTE)

Does studying the impact of microbial treatment on the weathering behaviour of rocks sound interesting to you? Read more and apply!

ongeveer 2 maanden geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 - 40 uur
€ 2434 - € 2434 per maand


The Department of Earth Sciences is now looking for highly-motivated, high-potential applicant to fill a PhD position on the impact of microbial treatment on the weathering behaviour of rocks. Physical, chemical and biological weathering has a profound impact on the Earth’s landscape and on its building infrastructure. Rock and masonry are constantly damaged and disaggregated by chemical reactions, water infiltration and temperature changes. Strengthening efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage is one of the United Nations’ Targets for Sustainable Cities and Communities in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Fluids are a major driver of rock weathering: they trigger, among others, dissolution, precipitation, frost and salt weathering. The key to manipulating weathering lies in understanding and controlling fluid flow within the internal pore structure of rocks and thereby influencing the related pore-scale processes. While microbial organisms are generally known to alter rock surfaces, some actually display physiological capabilities that have beneficial effects on rock properties due to their production of bio-cement, gas and acids. Before we can harness these beneficial effects, we must first study how these organisms impact fluid flow at the pore scale.
The Dutch Research Council VICI project, led by Prof. Veerle Cnudde, 'Towards protecting and improving building stones through microbial manipulation of pore structure' (short: BugControl), will focus on the understanding of bio-manipulated pore-scale processes inside rocks. The 4-year PhD project aims at understanding fluid-rock interaction in the presence of microbial organisms using advanced 4D imaging techniques. The outcomes of this PhD project will be incorporated into a team-effort to predict the impact of microbial organisms on rock properties and develop smart bio-conservation strategies. The PhD project will develop a protocol for biofilm visualization inside rock by applying X-ray tomography. Via advanced imaging techniques, correlative microscopy strategies with next-generation automated electron microscopy and 4D micro-CT a better understanding into the bacteria-induced pore scale processes will be obtained. Therefore, pathfinder materials will be fully characterized using advanced imaging techniques and lab measurements. After application of specific bacteria on these pathfinder stones in the lab, the induced bio-activity will be characterized.

The PhD candidate will engage in a trans-disciplinary research environment by closely collaborating with two postdoctoral fellows and one other PhD student, who are all part of the BugControl project and numerous PhD students and Postdoctoral fellows working in the field of advanced imaging techniques and pore scale processes. Fieldwork campaigns are planned to take place in The Netherlands and Belgium. Advanced imaging is planned in Belgium and at the synchrotron facilities in Switzerland (SLS-PSI) and France (ESRF). As such, the PhD candidate will be co-supervised by a professor from the Centre for X-ray imaging (UGCT), Belgium, and a minimum research visit of a total of 6 months at Ghent University is anticipated. A personalised training programme will be set up, which will reflect the candidate's training needs and career objectives. As part of this training, up to 10% of the candidate's time will be dedicated to assisting in Bachelor's and Master's teaching programmes.


We are seeking a PhD candidate with a Master's degree (obtained by the time the position starts) in geology, sciences, engineering or bioengineering with a strong interest in advanced image processing techniques and/or image processing and analysis. Experience in earth sciences with a demonstrable affinity for natural stones, microstructural analysis, and geochemistry is a plus. The applicant must have good practical lab skills and is ideally familiar with advanced imaging techniques. Moreover, the applicant should have excellent written and spoken English skills and be highly motivated to work in an international multidisciplinary team.


You will be offered a temporary PhD 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 €2,434 in the first year and €3,111 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.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact: Prof. Dr Veerle Cnudde (Professor of Porous Media Imaging Techniques, project leader), via V.Cnudde@uu.nl.