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PhD position 'The contribution of solar parks to soil quality and soil-based ecosystem services'

Do you have a MSc degree in soil or plant ecology, agronomy or related field ? Are you keen to perform state-of-the-art research on opportunities for soil …

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


Do you have a MSc degree in soil or plant ecology, agronomy or related field ? Are you keen to perform state-of-the-art research on opportunities for soil biodiversity and soil-based ecosystem functions of the energy transition? And do you want to constructively interact with solar park developers and managers? Then you are the candidate we are looking for!

Increased renewable energy production, such as solar energy, is essential to combat climate change. Ideally solar parks not only provide renewable energy but also promote biodiversity and soil quality such that soil-based ecosystem functions are safeguarded. How such a combination of energy production and ecosystem-multifunctionality can be established through solar park design and plant and soil management warrants experimental studies to reveal the short and longer term impacts of this novel land use. A large consortium of solar-park developers, consultancies, governments and Wageningen University & Research aims to provide the scientific knowledge base for a new certification label that guarantees enhancement of biodiversity and soil-based ecosystem functions in solar parks. In this research project, the candidate will focus on soil functional biodiversity and soil-based ecosystem functions related to organic matter dynamics and carbon sequestration, and will work together with other PhD candidates focussing on vertebrate and insect biodiversity.

Research findings will be published in leading international academic journals, but it is also important to communicate easily accessible summaries of your results to stakeholders (e.g. government, development) and media. You will also be involved in the supervision of MSc students who perform their thesis research within the framework of the project.

The preferred starting date is as soon as possible.


  • MSc degree in soil or plant ecology, agronomy or related field.
  • team player;
  • analytical mindset;
  • experience with soil biological analyses and/or with ecological field studies;
  • good organizational and communication skills;
  • excellent communication and writing skills in English;
  • fluency in Dutch (or willingness to learn Dutch through an intensive course) is a plus;
  • having a drivers license is a plus;
  • experience in collaborating with partners from a variety of backgrounds is a plus.


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 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 € 2.434,- per month rising to € 3.111,- 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 Prof. dr. ir. Gerlinde De Deyn (gerlinde.dedeyn@wur.nl) or Dr. Ron de Goede (ron.degoede@wur.nl).
For more information about the procedure, please contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter, 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.

To apply you submit a cover letter (max 2 pages) outlining your motivation and suitability for the project and your CV (max 4 pages) including names and contact details of two potential references. All these materials should be submitted via the online submission system

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 26 September 2021.