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PhD position at NIOZ: Nitrogen fixation in the past (1.0 FTE)

Job description
The Netherlands Earth System Science Centre (NESSC) is currently looking to fill 13 PhD positions with excellent, talented, enthusiastic, highly motivated and goal-oriented candidates, with a no-nonsense mentality. The ideal candidates are interested in past and/or current climate research, are highly motivated to perform research in an excellent, exciting and international working environment, and are committed to a fully-funded 4-year PhD track.

The project “Nitrogen fixation in the past” will be hosted at Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). The marine nitrogen cycle, like the marine carbon cycle, is intrinsically linked to global climate dynamics. Despite this, and despite extensive study of the modern-day N-cycle, a thorough understanding of the paleo-N cycle remains elusive. For the reconstruction of the past oceanic N-cycle, the PhD student will utilize organic biomarkers, particularly those associated with nitrogen fixating cyanobacteria, including symbiotic species. Furthermore, techniques for compound specific δ15N will be developed and employed to evaluate the isotopic signature of N fixation.


General requirements for applicants
• Candidates did not reside or carry out their main activity (e.g. work, studies) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months during the 3 years immediately prior to the date of appointment (time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention, compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account)*.
• Candidates hold an MSc degree (or will graduate before the appointment date) in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Ecology, Earth Sciences and/or Environmental Sciences.
• Candidates are in the first four years of their research careers at the start of their appointment (full-time equivalent research experience, measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree entitling him or her to embark on a doctorate) and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.
• Excellent proficiency of the English language (both oral and written).
• The ability to work both independently in challenging environments and in a multidisciplinary team. Excellent communication skills and cooperation skills are required.
• An inquisitive mind-set, accuracy, creativity and self-reliance are very important. You are required to be flexible, mobile and pro-active.
• Enthusiasm to attend the full training programme as offered in the project and to actively contribute to the project aims and objectives.
• High interest in receiving training from supervisors from different institutes, disciplines and sectors, this will require regular travelling within the Netherlands.
• High motivation to contribute to the dissemination of results and outreach to both specialists and the public at large.
• Candidates are excited to move to the Netherlands and to visit a Partner Organisations for a secondment (internship), in or outside the Netherlands, as this is part of the programme. Additional research visits to international institutes and conferences for research collaborations are expected.
• Strong motivation to obtain a PhD degree.

*If you do not qualify for the first criteria, you can still submit your application if you would like to be considered for the NON-COFUND PhD positions.

Specific requirements for this project
For this project we seek a PhD candidate with a background in geochemistry, stable isotopes, earth sciences or analytical chemistry.


The selected candidates will be offered a full-time PhD position at one of the NESSC institutes, initially for one year. The first formal assessment will be held between month 10 and 16 of employment, if found positive the ESR will be offered the full 48 months of PhD employment.

Your gross salary will be in line with the collective labour agreement of your employer. The full-time gross monthly salary ranges from € 2,346 to start with in the first year, to € 3,007 in the fourth year. The salary is supplemented by a guaranteed end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and a holiday allowance of 8% of your yearly salary. We offer a pension scheme (partly paid by employer), collective insurance schemes, parental leave, travel allowance (home to work and for work purposes), and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model).

About the organization

The Royal NIOZ, an NWO Institute, is the Dutch national institute for fundamental and applied marine sciences. It is our goal to improve and share our knowledge of estuaries, seas and oceans: for a better understanding of our planet. The Royal NIOZ aims to improve the career development of Masters, PhD’s and Postdocs. We support the goals of the Postdoc Career Development Initiative (PCDI) in the Netherlands. The aim of this organization is to stimulate the broad professional and career development of early career researchers who (are about to) have a PhD.

At the Royal NIOZ, we aim to create progress from the day you start. To achieve this we reimburse training/courses, monitor your achievements and assist further growth in a career development programme. Click here for more information about working at NIOZ.

NESSC brings scientists together with a background in Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Ecology and Mathematics to better understand the processes behind climate change and to improve future climate projections and predictions. NESSC offers young academics the opportunity to work on important scientific topics in not previously existing partnerships, and thus creates the conditions for innovative, ground-breaking and multidisciplinary research, including both experimental and theoretical approaches. All PhD positions will be hosted at one of the NESSC research institutes: Utrecht University, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, VU University Amsterdam or Wageningen University.

Additional information

For general or practical information on the NESSC COFUND programme, please contact, for project related questions please contact Stefan Schouten via

NESSC is a so-called Gravitation Program, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). The programme is co-funded with a grant that has been awarded from the Europen Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme: the Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND program, grant agreement No 847504. Please click here for general information about NESSC and here for NESSC research.

All applications must be received on 31 October 2020 (CEST). Candidates can only apply for a position using the application button, applications received via other channels will not be taken into account. The application should be complete, and include a written motivation letter, explaining the choice for the selected position(s); a curriculum vitae including contact details of two referees and copies of relevant diplomas and grades list. Expected enrolment is January-March 2020.

The application deadline is
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