PhD position to study carbon flows in mushroom
ecosystems (4 years)

Job description:

The Department of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University is currently seeking a motivated PhD candidate to work within the research programme Traffic Control: optimal flow of nutrients to developing mushrooms. The programme is in co-operation with the Department of Biology, and overall involves four positions, two postdoctoral fellows and two PhD students, fully funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Applied and Engineering Sciences Division (NWO-TTW).

The PhD candidate will investigate in detail the flow of carbon and nutrients within a mushroom ecosystem. She/he will use stable isotopes as deliberate tracers, and use compound-specific isotope analysis of biomarkers and imaging secondary ion mass spectrometry (nanoSIMS) to study uptake and transfers of carbon and nitrogen between the compost, mushrooms and microbes.

Up to 10% of the candidate's time will be dedicated to assisting in the BSc and MSc teaching programmes of the Department of Earth Sciences. A personalised training programme will be set up and mutually agreed upon recruitment, which will reflect the candidate's training needs and career objectives.


We seek an enthusiastic graduate student holding an MSc degree that ensures appropriate background knowledge such as Biology, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, or Agricultural Sciences, and with a strong passion for research. Prior knowledge on stable isotopes, organic geochemistry and microbiology is an asset, but is not required.

Important accessory qualifications include positive social/verbal/communication skills, determination, willingness to travel abroad, eagerness to develop multidisciplinary skills, and ability to share and explain results to researchers from other disciplines (notably numerical modelling community). Applicants should have excellent written and spoken English skills.

Terms of employment:

The successful candidate will be offered a full-time position at first for one year. Depending on a good performance this may be extended to a total period of four years, with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. Employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary starts with 2,222,- in the first year and increases to 2,840,- in the fourth year of employment with a full-time appointment. The salary is supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%. In addition, we offer a pension scheme, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions.

Facilities for sports and child care are available on our main campus (where the Department of Earth Sciences is situated), which is located only 15 minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht.

About the organisation:

The Utrecht Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. With a population of 2600 students (BSc and MSc) and 600 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty is organised in four Departments: Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, and Human Geography & Spatial Planning.

The Department of Earth Sciences conducts teaching and research across the full range of the solid Earth and environmental Earth sciences, with activities in almost all areas of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, biogeology and hydrogeology. The department hosts a highly international group of more than 100 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers and houses a wide variety of world-class laboratories.

Additional information:

For additional information please contact the project leader Prof. Dr Jack Middelburg,

How to apply:

To apply, please follow this link and the guidelines mentioned there. Applications will be accepted until January 26st, 2018. Evaluations and interviews are planned soon thereafter. We aim to start the project ultimately on the 1st of May, 2018. Online screening may be part of the selection. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.

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posted: 20 December 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.