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PhD position at VU Amsterdam: Methane cycling microorganisms in changing Arctic ecosystems (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 “Methane cycling microorganisms in changing Arctic ecosystems” will be hosted at the Department of Earth Sciences (Faculty of Science) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam). Arctic permafrost soils store large amounts of organic matter that is sensitive to temperature increases and subsequent microbial degradation to methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). In Arctic ecosystems CH4 contributes to up to half of the expected climate forcing when taking the global warming potential into account. The goal of this project is to study the dynamic landscape scale fluxes and the microbial mechanisms that underlie the contributions of the Arctic to the global greenhouse gas budget. The linkage between the actual microbes and landscape scale fluxes, however, is elusive. This project will use a combination of microbial analysis by the PhD student studying methanogenic and methanotrophic activity and community composition in selected pan-Arctic samples under in situ temperature conditions (4°C) and the IPCC 2013 Arctic climate change scenario (10°C). Activity studies will be carried out with and without addition of methanogenic and methanotrophic substrates to stimulate methane cycling activity, and sample and data collection and interpretive modelling will be carried out at the VU. For this project frequent travel to the microbiology department of NESSC institute Radboud University (RU, Nijmegen) is expected.


Qualifications

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 Master’s degree in Earth Sciences or Microbiology with an affinity for geoscience.

Offer

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.

The gross monthly salary starts at €2,325 in the first year, and ends at €2,972 in the fourth year (scale P Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities). 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). Facilities for sports and child care are available.

About the organization

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 23,000 students. We employ more than 4,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

 

Diversity

Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.

 

The Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.


Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.


The Department of Earth Sciences studies the Earth as a fully coupled system with emphasis on the interactions between the geo-, hydro-, bio-, cryo-, and atmosphere. Our main goal is to improve our understanding of the processes (including anthropogenic) that ultimately shape our planet and affect our daily lives. We offer high-class teaching and carry out our ambitious and innovative research in a dynamic academic environment, supported by excellent research facilities. Click here for more information about working at VU


About NESSC
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 info@nessc.nl, for project related questions please contact Han Dolman via Han.Dolman@vu.nl.

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.

Apply
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
31/10/2019
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