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PhD position: Integrating public and stakeholder needs, practices and opinions into innovative wind energy research and modelling

We are looking forApplications are being invited for a PhD researcher to conduct research on how to integrate public and stakeholder needs, practices and opinions into innovative wind energy research and modelling. This research ...

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


We are looking for
Applications are being invited for a PhD researcher to conduct research on how to integrate public and stakeholder needs, practices and opinions into innovative wind energy research and modelling. This research is part of the 'UPWARDS' project, which stands for Understanding of the Physics of Wind Turbine and Rotor Dynamics through an Integrated Simulation Framework.
Based at the Environmental Policy Group (ENP) at Wageningen University, you will conduct independent research on the social and environmental aspects of wind energy, focusing on public acceptance, practices and stakeholder needs and opinions. While wind energy is one of the cheapest and most promising sources of renewable (and thus low-carbon) energy, it also faces strong, yet diverse societal opposition. Within this PhD project, you will contribute to solving this problem by unravelling public and stakeholder acceptance of wind turbines by collecting data through online and offline panels with different stakeholders, specifically on the topics of psychoacoustics (noise), risks (related to sudden stops and extreme weather) and shadow flicker. Furthermore, and uniquely, you will integrate the findings directly (and at an early stage) into the latest wind turbine models at various scales (single turbine, wind park, landscape). This requires strong interdisciplinary skills and innovative thinking to 'translate' stakeholder data to more technical industry and research partners and vice versa.
The UPWARDS programme is funded through an EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation grant, which brings together 11 outstanding international partners, including universities, research institutes and industry parties from Norway, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Luxemburg and Argentina. The PhD will be based in Wageningen, but the research will require frequent meetings and travel within Europe to liaise with these partners and jointly develop ways to integrating public and stakeholder data into wind energy modelling. In Wageningen, Dr. Mattijs Smits leads the work package on public participation, in which the PhD is expected to make a key contribution, including (co-)developing the deliverables for this project. Despite this, there is considerable freedom within this project to incorporate your own ideas, develop your own research profile, and reflect on the (im)possibilities of interdisciplinary research in the field of wind energy and public and stakeholder participation.


We ask
  • A Masters degree in social sciences (sociology, STS, geography, planning, political science, development studies, or related field) or MSc in environmental sciences or engineering with proven social science knowledge/experience
  • Some knowledge or experience with public acceptance and stakeholder engagement is preferred
  • Capacity to carry out independent fieldwork in an international setting, together with international partners
  • A collaborative and team-oriented attitude, with an open mind for other scientific approaches, notably (big data) quantitative modelling and deep learning methods
  • A strong ambition to upgrade your knowledge and academic skills
  • Strong scientific writing skills, preferably with a scientific publication record
  • Proficiency test in the English language (only for candidates from non-Anglophone countries and applicants who have not completed their higher education with English language instruction). Wageningen University has the following admission criteria for PhD students: English proficiency of 6.5 for IELTS, with a minimum of 6.0 for each academic module. You also need an acceptance of the candidate by the supervisors and the equivalent of a Dutch MSc degree.
  • For further information on the specific application criteria see: www.wageningenuniversity.nl/UK/informationfor/PhD+programmes/Application/


We offer
A 4-years fully funded PhD position. The candidate will be employed by Wageningen University & Resasearch for the duration of the study and will be offered a course program tailored to the desires of the candidate and the research team.
This is a 48 month PhD position (we offer you a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended with 30 months if you perform well). Salary will increase from € 2.222 gross per month in the first year up to € 2.840 in the last year, based on a full-time appointment (38 hours a week). In addition, we offer a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary.

Additional information

More information
Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from:
dr. Mattijs Smits, E-mail address: mattijs.smits@wur.nl

Please do not send your application to the email addresses mentioned above. To apply, please upload your letter of motivation and a CV online via www.wageningenur.nl/en/Jobs/Vacancies.htm before February 18th, 2018.


The PhD project will take place within the Environmental Policy Group (ENP) at Wageningen University and Research (WUR) (www.wur.nl/en/Expertise-Services/Chair-groups/Social-Sciences/Environmental-Policy-Group.htm).
ENP holds a strong position in interdisciplinary research within key areas, such as renewable energy development, climate futures, and environmental governance. ENP develops innovative ways of analysing and understanding social and political transformations of the environment. Core to this mission is the analysis of how and to what extent environmental considerations become incorporated into and change modernisation and globalisation processes, and the design of environmental governance arrangements that extend across multiple levels and spatial scales. ENP is a large and vibrant community of PhDs and researchers in various stages of their careers.

Wageningen University & Research aims to deliver a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus - each and every day. Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society - such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don't do this alone. Every day, 6,500 people work on 'the quality of life', turning ideas into reality, on a global scale. Could you be one of these people? We give you the space you need.