PhD student on multi-stress in complex systems

EcologyEnvironmental Science
Leiden University, LEI, the Netherlands
Sep 11, 2023 21:59:00 GMT+00:00
Apply Now
Online Application
Save 0

The Faculty of Science and Institute of Environmental Sciences are looking for:

A PhD student on multi-stress in complex systems(0.8-1.0 fte)

Vacancy number: 13963

Many ecological communities are faced with a range of environmental and anthropogenic stressors, often acting simultaneously. Key stressors include habitat degradation and fragmentation, pollution and climate change related impacts. For example, in urban setting there is fragmentation of habitats, chemical, noise and light pollution, and increased heat stress. In rural settings systems ecological communities need to cope with the impacts of climate change, loss of biodiversity, soil degradation and agro-chemical pollutants. Yet, studying these multi-stressors remains challenges, and, as a result, our understanding on the interactions between stressors remains limited.

Within this PhD project we aim to improve our understanding of potential interactions between stressors: this is critical because stressors co-occur in time and space. We want to focus on i) the predictability of multiple stressor effects, and ii) determine whether there are consistent patterns across systems. This will be done by examining the distribution of stressor effects in different systems, and across ecological scales.

To collect data and build up a body of knowledge on these issues, there are several methods conventionally used: field monitoring and laboratory trial, as well as mesocosm studies or so-called Living Labs. Living Labs is a real-world, open innovation ecosystem which allows scientist to study complex systems. At Leiden University we have three living labs in use [Polderlab (rural), Buurtlab (urban) and Levend Lab(Aquatic)]. This provides us with excellent opportunities to do groundbreaking research on the ecological and environmental consequences of multiple stressors on ecosystems.

Importantly, we also have excellent laboratory facilities, allowing us to combine field-based studies with more controlled experiments to study specific stressors in more detail. This will give us the opportunity to investigate causalities and responses of stressors, both in combination as well as individual. This can be further supported by model development.

Creative PhD candidate wanted!

We are looking for a creative and enthusiastic PhD candidate to explore the complexities of real-life impacts of multi-stress in complex environments. This includes the creations of study designs to effectively measure these impacts. The exact experiments will be based on co-creation between the PhD candidate and other researchers (and potentially stakeholders). Example include how innovative agricultural practices can promote biodiversity, or how pressures within cities can lead to evolutionary adaptation in animals.

Key tasks

  • Design and execute experiments in one or more of our living labs
  • Conduct more controlled experiments to elucidate potential mechanisms of stressors
  • Development of innovative ways to study and quantify multiple stress

Selection criteria

  • A M.Sc. degree in a relevant field (e.g. ecology, environmental science, and/or biology), but we also consider candidates from other scientific fields with good quantitative skills and an interest in studying human induced impacts on ecological communities
  • Passion for field work in either a rural or urban setting
  • Willingness to develop complimentary laboratory skills (some experience of working in a lab are preferred)
  • Good to strong quantitative skills (statistics, modelling)
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English and good communication skills. Willingness to learn Dutch
  • Team player and having a collaborative attitude

Research at our Institute/Faculty

The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programs. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,800 staff and almost 6,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) is positioned in the Faculty of Sciences. The core focus of CML is to perform research and education in the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Sciences. CML has two Departments: Industrial Ecology (CML-IE) and Environmental Biology (CML-EB). Presently, about 125 fte (including postdocs and PhDs) are employed at CML. CML collaborates with the TU Delft and Erasmus University in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability (LDE-CfS), Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, and other partners.

For more information, see and Information about CML can be found at

Terms and conditions We offer a 1-year position with the possibility of extension to 4 years based on performance and following the pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. Salary ranges from € 2.770 gross per month in the first year to € 3.539 gross per month in the fourth year based on a full-time position.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career program. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Diversity Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Information Enquiries can be made to Dr. Thijs Bosker: t.bosker@cml.leidenuniv,nl

Applications To apply for this vacancy, please use the button below. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • CV
  • A motivation letter

Only applications received before Monday September 11th will be considered. Interviews will be scheduled in the week of September 18, start date November of December 2023.