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PhD at the Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group

A PhD student that studies impacts of forest management and drought on the water relations and growth of trees in temperate forests. The study of those …

ongeveer 2 maanden geleden


Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur


A PhD student that studies impacts of forest management and drought on the water relations and growth of trees in temperate forests. The study of those impacts is key to develop climate-smart-forestry, which involves developing science-based forest management that maximizes the productivity, resilience and carbon storage of forests with increasing risks of drought.

You will compare water relations and growth for trees under different management regimes, using an existent forest experiment with 15 permanent plots in the Netherlands. In each plot, different harvest intensities were applied in 2019 thus creating a controlled forest experiment for studying drought and management effects on trees. This study includes automized measurements of growth and water relations and addition functional plant traits on trees, and also mechanistic plant growth modelling to integrate the consequences of such responses for trees under different climate change (with major focus on drought) factors.

The study includes intensive field measurements in collaboration with other team partners over a period of 2 years. You will work in a team with other PhD's (one on soil conditions, one on nutrient budgets), a post-doc (upscaling soil and above ground processes to whole forest responses) and a broad team of forest scientists and forest users. The study thus encompasses multiple research disciplines and the research team is therefore large and international, with top specialists from different research fields.
The start of this PhD project is planned for around October or November 1, 2021. Frank Sterck and Gert-Jan Nabuurs will act as your supervisors.


  • eco-physiologist / ecologist / forest & nature conservation background (with MSc. degree)
  • an open, ambitious and enthusiastic mind-set to study trees in response to climate change factors and forest management
  • a strong affinity with field work, and an ability to lead and cooperate with a field campaign team in an effective and friendly way.
  • technical background required to maintain a stem growth (dendrometers) and soil sensors network within forests.
  • affinity in lab-work needed for analyzing (hydraulic) plant functional traits and carry out tree ring / stem growth resilience analysis.
  • a basic understanding of Dutch forestry and ability to translate results to practice.
  • experience with mechanistic plant growth modelling, or with strong affinity with mathematics and programming and the capacity to develop mechanistic plant growth modelling skills.
  • excellent communication skills
  • excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page


Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • study leave and paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.
In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the "Best University" in the Netherlands for the 16th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact dr. Frank Sterck ,frank.sterck@wur.nl

For more information about the procedure, please contact Edgar Tijhuis, edgar.tijhuis@wur.nl

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including August 20, 2021. We hope to schedule the first job interviews on September 8, 2021.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.