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PhD in photosynthesis

Are you interested in photosynthesis and do you like working with complex puzzles? Are you skilled in quantitative data analysis? Wageningen University & …

2 maanden geleden


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


Are you interested in photosynthesis and do you like working with complex puzzles? Are you skilled in quantitative data analysis? Wageningen University & Research has a vacant PhD position in photosynthesis. If sounds like you, then please read on!

This is the job we have to offer:

The Background:
Driven by global environmental changes and a growing human population, meeting future food demands will require a strong increase in plant production the coming decades. One of the major yield-related traits that can still be improved in crops is their primary productivity and this is largely determined by photosynthesis. Rapid fluctuations (ie in the seconds to minutes time range) in light intensity are very common in nature and in agriculture. Photosynthetic responses to these fluctuations are relatively slow, resulting in photosynthetic inefficiency and lost productivity. Improving the speed of response of photosynthesis to fluctuating light is therefore seen as a way to improve crop photosynthesis. The NWO-funded (NWO are the Dutch national science funding agency) multidisciplinary project "Plant photosynthesis responses to fluctuating light" aims to understand better how plants respond to rapidly fluctuating light and how this is genetically controlled.

Your role:
Your part in this project will to analyse the physiological responses of photosynthesis to fluctuating light and develop and apply high throughput phenotyping methods for these responses. To this you will use a range of tools. The more detailed physiological analysis of photosynthetic responses to fluctuating light will be based upon measurements carbon dioxide uptake and water vapour release by leaves made in combination with measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence and light-induced absorbance changes. Many of these instruments will be laboratory built and we encourage the development of expertise in the development of these instruments. The high-throughput phenotyping that will identify more effectively natural variation for responses to fluctuating in large numbers of genotypes will be done using a robotic chlorophyll fluorescence imaging. Finally you will also have to carry out some simple biochemical measurements on leaf samples collected during the experiments.


In detail, we are looking for the following expertise:
A PhD student in photosynthesis to work in an innovative multidisciplinary project investigating the genetic, physiological, anatomical and morphological nature of plant photosynthetic responses to fluctuating light. We invite applications from adaptable candidates who have had a broad scientific education, leading to a specialisation in plant physiology, biochemistry, biophysics, or similar. You ought to have an interest in working on plant photosynthesis, especially the operation and regulation of leaf photosynthesis and the phenotyping of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a complicated process so you ought to enjoy solving complex puzzles and thinking multidimensionally - if this is you then you will be happy doing this PhD in photosynthesis. You will be based in the Biophysics group of Wageningen University so the intellectual atmosphere is technically expert, quantitative and rigorous.
For this a good background in plant physiology, biochemistry or bio(physics) is very desirable as is familiarity with quantitative data analysis (eg Python, Matlab). If you have experience with using Arduinos, Pyboards, Raspberry Pi Picos etc, or with electronics, that would be even better, but we know we cannot have everything! Finally, you should see working in a multidisciplinary team as a positive thing and have the ambition to work as a researcher into the fundamental basis of natural phenomena, such as photosynthesis.

Summary of requirements:
  • A MSc, a BSc with honours (minimum grade 2:1), or equivalent. Note that candidates lacking an MSc will have to demonstrate that they have met a sufficient academic standard during their BSc (or other qualification), have produced a significant project report or be prepared to do so. The MSc (etc) should be in plant physiology, biochemistry or biophysics, or in a comparable subject like physical chemistry or physics, and whatever their background the candidate should have a good understanding of photosynthesis and basic applied mathematics;
  • a strong interest in experimental research;
  • ideally some experience with Arduinos, Pyboards, Raspberry Pi Picos, electronics or a similar Maker interest;
  • a collaborative worker with good communication skills;
  • the freedom to travel for short-term visits to collaborating labs;
  • an interest in translating scientific discoveries into practical solutions;
  • an excellent command of the English language in both written and spoken forms.


Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • Sabbatical leave, 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 accumulate additional holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on health and well being and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3% of your salary;
  • 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

Do you want more information?
For more information about this function, please contact Dr Jeremy Harbinson, email: Jeremy.Harbinson@wur.nl, telephone number +31 317483660.
For more information about the procedure, please contact Emma Langelaan, HR Advisor, email: emma.langelaan@wur.nl, telephone number +31 317480868.

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 Wednesday August 18th.

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.