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UvA PhD Position in Environmental chemistry, Soil science

University of Amsterdam (UvA)

The Netherlands

Apply Before the Deadline

Oct 18, 2021 23:59 (GMT +2)

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Faculty of Science – Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics invites applications for a PhD position in “Designing a Nature-inspired Engineering Tool to Address Soil Pollution”, at University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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General Info

Position: PhD Position
No. of Positions: 1
Research Field: ,
Deadline to Apply: October 18, 2021(GMT +2)
Joining Date: ASAP
Contract Period: 4 Years
Salary: 2,434 to 3,111 Euro/Month

Faculty of Science
Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics
University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Qualification Details

  • An MSc in (environmental, bio-) chemistry, (technical) soil science or related relevant field.
  • Demonstrated experience with laboratory research and fieldwork.
  • Fundamental knowledge of (soil) chemical processes at the molecular level.
  • Good programming skills for data-science applications.
  • Enthusiasm for performing applied research in collaboration with industrial partners.
  • Excellent oral and written English communication skills.
  • An interest in contributing to teaching.

Responsibilities/Job Description

You are expected to:

  • Perform high quality research that combines laboratory study with field research at a CVOC polluted site of a problem owner.
  • Closely collaborate with all partners of the team, including performing one or more internships at TAUW and/or Heijmans.
  • Publish your results in good peer-reviewed scientific journals.
  • Actively contribute to the teaching of the new Science for Design Bachelor program and possibly other relevant programs of the UvA.

How to Apply?

Online Application through "Apply Now" Button from this page or from advertisement webpage (URL below)

Reference Number: 21-771
(If any, use it in the necessary place)

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Documents Required

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a motivation letter and CV, including a list of publications,

Please mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews after 18 October 2021.

About the Project/Department

The use of non-renewable resources is causing global-scale environmental problems, which threaten the stability of our planet earth. The safe operating space to maintain liveable conditions on earth has been formulated in the planetary boundaries, of which several are already overstepped. Many of these problems are caused by human interruptions of biogeochemical cycles of the biogenic elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur leading to the creation of waste.

Zero Waste is a part of the university-wide theme of Sustainable Prosperity presented in the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) 2021-2026 strategic plan. With Zero Waste, the UvA Faculty of Science (FNWI) aims to contribute to alleviating these environmental problems resulting from the current linear use of resources by (re-)designing processes, materials, and products to keep materials in closed cycles while meeting our needs.

Zero Waste will strongly connect to education at the Faculty of Science, especially to the new BSc programme Science and Design that focusses on four interdisciplinary themes: 1) high-tech designer materials, 2) renewable energy and resources, 3) engineering life and health, and 4) information science, modelling and simulation. Six Science & Design Doctorates will form the start of the Zero Waste research theme. They will work together in physical proximity and intensive interaction to strengthen the common aspects of the projects, while researching a broad range of topics. Physically, research and demonstration activities and part of the research of the theme can be carried out in SustainaLab, the new Matrix ONE building at Amsterdam Science Park.

Chlorinated volatile organic contaminants (CVOCs) are produced world-wide in large quantities for use e.g. as solvents and degreasing compounds. Through spillages, leakages, etc. such compounds find their way into soils where they persist as dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs). As such they form one of the most wide-spread forms of pollution on Earth and threaten ecosystems, groundwater and human health worldwide. In the present project we aspire to design a nature-inspired geotechnical engineering concept as part of a circular, sustainable design to reduce waste and soil pollution. The project builds on the SoSEAL barrier concept previously developed by us. The SoSEAL barrier reduces the in-situ permeability of the sub-surface using the flocculation of aluminium (Al)-Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM) complexes in soil pores to block them in a way that mimics naturally occurring soil forming processes in Podzols. In the present project, we aspire to take SoSEAL concept a step further and combine sustainable Al sources with existing waste-streams as a source of DOM to design a tailored permeability barrier to isolate CVOCs in contaminated soils while simultaneously stimulating their microbial degradation, thus leading to the (partial) removal of the CVOCs over time.

Key research questions are.

  • What properties should the Al/Fe-DOM complexes have in order to achieve the required properties in the barrier?
  • How are the required properties of the Al/Fe-DOM complexes related to the required organic-matter characteristics?
  • How can these characteristics be measured in a quantitative manner in order to design required production recipes and injection/delivery methods in the lab and the field?
  • What measurement/monitoring strategies are required to quantitatively test the performance in both laboratory as well as field settings to assess the performance of the engineered Al/Fe-DOM-CVOC system?

To tackle these questions, we have set up a partnership between the UvA, the Technical University Delft, and the consultancy firm TAUW and contractor Heijmans. You will play a key role in this research consortium and will help answering the research questions by: i) studying the fundamental processes causing Al/Fe-DOM flocculation, and ii) studying the behavior of the precipitates thus formed in the presence of CVOCs for creating 'designed' flocs with specific in-situ behavior.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. The research at IBED aims to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. At its core lies an integrated systems approach to study biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment. IBED adopts this systems approach to ecosystems, addressing abiotic (soil and water quality) and biotic factors (ecology and evolution of plants, animals, and microorganisms), and the interplay between those. The IBED vision includes research encompassing experimental and theoretical approaches at a wide variety of temporal and spatial scales, i.e. from molecules and microorganisms to patterns and processes occurring at the global scale.

About the Employer: University of Amsterdam (UvA)

Note or Other details

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of four years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of four years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and Master students.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,434 to €3,111 (scale P) gross per month, based on a fulltime contract (38 hours a week). This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.

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Contact details

Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

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