Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam VU, The Netherlands

PhD Position Multi-Scale Socio-Hydrological Systems Modelling – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Mar 2022

The Netherlands

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam invites applications for a Ph.D. position candidates who are interested in understanding the interactions between farmers’ behaviour, water management and hydrology in the Netherlands – Mar 2022

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General Info

Position: PhD Position
No. of Positions: 1
Research Field: , , ,
Deadline to Apply: Expired
Joining Date: ASAP
Contract Period: 1 Year
Salary: 2,434 EURO/ Month

Faculty of Science

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), the Netherlands


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Qualification Details

  • MSc degree in the earth or environmental sciences (or similar) with demonstrable affinity with social systems; or in (human) geography / social science (or similar) with demonstrable affinity with earth, climate, or environmental sciences
  • experience with qualitative and participatory data collection;
  • experience with Agent-Based Models  (or other socio-hydrological models) for modelling human-water dynamics at different scales
  • good programming skills (preferably in Python, or willing to learn Python)
  • strong interest in interdisciplinary research, combining climate and environmental sciences with social science concepts, methods and data
  • good oral and written skills (Dutch and English)
  • strong collaboration and communication skills to work in a larger multi-disciplinary team, including with policymakers, private sector and civil society stakeholders
  • good writing and presentation skills, as evidenced by e.g. published peer-reviewed papers

Responsibilities/Job Description

In the Netherlands, climate change is leading to drier and warmer springs and summers with accentuated dry spells as well as more intense rainfall events. To make agricultural systems more robust to these fluctuations, farmers and water managers at different scales have to transition from a socio-technical and institutional governance paradigm based on quickly discharging water through drainage, to a more flexible and versatile system that can deal with both water surplus as well as droughts. The UPWAS project aims at to co-developing inter- and trans-disciplinary insights and tools that support farmers, Waterboards, Provincial Governments and other public and private stakeholders in the Netherlands in the process of upscaling private and collective water storage for robust agricultural systems.

We are looking for a PhD candidate who can develop an agent-based hydrological model to investigate how farmers’ behaviour on water storage affects the hydrology and what the trade-offs and benefits are of upscaling these water storage measures. The PhD project will focus on analysing how drivers such as technological development (i.e., water storage options) and socio-economic and climatic change affect decision-making of a farmer population and how this will affect the hydrology at landscape and regional levels.

This project will investigate the reciprocal effects and feedbacks between crop yield, hydrology, climate, and socio-economic behaviours with the aim to support decision-makers by demonstrating the effects of decisions on different sectors, decision pathways and lock-in conditions. Interesting questions are: what trade-offs exist between drought and flood risk? And how can policies and other drivers be used to change farmer’s behaviour?

Your duties

  • collect qualitative data on agricultural (drought) management, farmer’s decision making, socio-economic conditions, and current and future governance and policies in case of different adaptation actions in the project living labs in the Netherlands
  • integrate existing hydrological, agricultural and agent-based models to simulate the interactions between farmers using water storage and hydrological systems based on different behavioural theories
  • co-develop coupled hydrological-ABM models for the specific cases with the stakeholders
  • write a PhD thesis consisting of 4 scientific papers
  • work with other PhD, Postdocs, and colleagues of the project consortium and contribute to project reporting
  • attend regional and national and meetings
  • contribute to the teaching and supervising activities at VU Amsterdam

How to Apply?

Application Method: Online Application
Ref. No.: -

Application Procedure

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter by Sunday 27 March 2022.

Please also submit a separate PhD research statement (maximum of 300 words) with the CV and cover letter. This research statement should discuss the research questions you would be interested in, why these are relevant and how you would plan to answer these questions (approach, expected outcomes).

The job interviews are planned for 21 and 22 April, when possible please take them into account when applying for the position.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

About the Department

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.

About the institute

Established in 1971, IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognised for its high quality research output in a range of environmental disciplines, as well as for its interdisciplinary work. The mission of the institute is to contribute to sustainable development and care for the environment through scientific research and teaching. IVM aims to do excellent problem-oriented research that is useful to a wide range of stakeholders in the Netherlands and internationally. A unique strength of our research is to understand sustainability problems in their social and economic context. IVM’s research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Geography, Environmental Policy Analysis; and Water and Climate Risk. Since 2001 IVM has been part of the Faculty of Science at VU Amsterdam (legal name Stichting VU).

The department of Water and Climate Risk studies hydrological and climate processes, and how these processes lead to risks and opportunities for society, the economy, and the environment. A defining characteristic of the department is a multi-disciplinary approach that combines expertise from natural sciences with knowledge from the fields of economics, e-Science and geography. This approach has led to a unique research portfolio of water and climate risk projects, and the department is a global leading institute in flood and drought risk assessment, and risk management research.

About the Employer:

Note or Other details


A challenging position in a socially involved organisation. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,434 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,111 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 3 years.Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment, 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, solid pension scheme (ABP), contribution to commuting expenses, optional model for designing a personalised benefits package

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Contact details

If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:Name: Dr Anne van LoonPosition: Associate ProfessorE-mail: [email protected]orName: Dr Maurizio MazzoleniPosition: Assistant ProfessorE-mail: [email protected]Website: www.ivm.vu.nl

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