Research professor in Earth Surface Processes in the anthropocene (BOFZAP)

(ref. BZP-2020-12)

The Science, Engineering and Technology Group of KU Leuven, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, invites scholars to apply for a full-time research professorship in the Research unit Geography and Tourism. This position is funded by the Special Research Fund (BOFZAP), established by the Flemish Government.

We are looking for motivated and internationally oriented candidates with an excellent research record and with educational competence in the field of earth surface processes in the anthropocene. The appointment is expected to start on October 1, 2021.

Applications will be evaluated in parallel and independently by 1) the KU Leuven Research Council in a competitive process across academic domains and 2) the faculty advisory committee. During the first 10 years, the teaching obligations as a research professor will be limited. Afterwards, the position will be transformed into a regular professorship.

The main mission of the department is to carry out state-of-the-art scientific research with respect to the functioning of geo- and ecosystems at different spatial and temporal scales, including the interaction between humans and the environment and the sustainable management of natural resources. The Research unit Geography and Tourism conducts research and provides academic training in the interrelated fields of earth surface processes and climate, society and space, tourism research and education in geosciences. This research unit has systematically been given a high ranking for research and education quality by independent accreditation committees. The research unit has internationally renowned experience in studying earth surface processes. Pioneering work on process geomorphology, later connected to bio-geochemistry and landscape evolution both in natural and anthropogenic conditions have been performed here. With increasing pressure on the earths’ surface from anthropogenic activities (agriculture, urbanization, infrastructure, dams, ..), a process-based understanding of human-landscape interactions is key to understand and predict rapid transformations in the landscape and to guide adaptations of human activities. To strengthen these activities, the research unit is looking for an internationally-oriented candidate with a strong track record in earth surface processes.



It is part of the assignment of the appointed candidate to develop, within the domain of earth surface processes in the anthropocene an international, competitive research programme, to pursue excellent scientific results at an international level and to support and promote national and international research partnerships. The candidate must meet a strong research profile or have the potential to do so. In addition, the candidate is expected to have a multidisciplinary attitude and a willingness to cooperate intensively with other researchers and research units at KU Leuven, such as: soil science, biogeochemistry, ecology, geology, hydrology, atmospheric sciences, geoarchaeology, and/or socio-economic sciences.

The candidate:

  • Is an excellent, internationally oriented researcher and develops a research programme at the forefront in the field of earth surface processes in the anthropocene. It is expected that you develop a research program at an international level in earth surface processes and that you lead innovative research on processes in the near-surface environment (critical zone) in anthropogenically affected landscapes. The focus is on physical landscape processes (erosion, transport and deposition of sediments) making use of, and developing cutting-edge tools, combining numerical models with fieldwork and/or laboratory work.
  • Strengthens existing research lines and brings complementary and/or additionally new expertise by working closely with the members of the Research unit Geography and Tourism and the Department Earth and Environmental Sciences.
  • Publishes at the highest scientific level.
  • Develops an own research group.
  • Supervises master students, PhD students and postdocs at a high international level.
  • Aims to acquire competitive research funding from national and/or international agencies and submits effective research project proposals for this purpose.
  • Strives for excellence in research and provides a contribution to the international research reputation of research unit Geography and Tourism], the Department Earth and Environmental Sciences and KU Leuven.
  • Has a pronounced interest in fundamental research, but also pays attention to the valorization and applications of the research, for instance through contacts with policy makers and/or (inter)national organisations. The aim of the research is to contribute to understanding and predicting rapid transformations in the biophysical landscape, to assess the vulnerability and resilience of the critical zone, and to guide decision makers in their adaptive management of the environment.
  • Establishes both within KU Leuven, national and international partnerships in the context of the research programme.


Although the position regards a research professorship at the start of employment, the candidate is expected to gradually contribute to state of the art teaching. The assignment of the appointed candidate also includes a limited teaching assignment within geography and related programs, with a clear commitment to the quality of the program as a whole. You teach basic and advanced courses in physical geography and contribute to the training of students in research methods (modeling, fieldwork, laboratory work), general geographic courses and supervision of master's and doctoral theses.

This education must meet the requirements of academic programs in terms of level, orientation and academic level, in particular it is research-based and oriented. Teaching must be part of the educational concept of the KU Leuven and any partner institutions involved. Commitment to the quality of the program as a whole is taken for granted.


Scientific, societal and internal services (administrative and/or institutional) are also part of the assignment. As academic staff of KU Leuven, you play an important role in society through your research and teaching, but also through your participation in the public debate, contributions to policy-supporting research projects for governments from the local, the European level and the international level. You take up an active role in councils, educational committees, working groups of the university and in particular, of the research unit, department and faculty you will belong to.


  • You have PhD in geography or related discipline and you have profound knowledge of earth surface processes in anthropogenically affected landscapes. If you have recently obtained your PhD, it is important that you support your research and growth potential with academic references.
  • You have affinity with cutting-edge numerical modelling, fieldwork and/or laboratory analyses and proven experience with at least two of these methods.
  • You have a strong research profile in the field and an indisputable research integrity.
  • The quality of your research is proven by publications in prominent/leading international top journals.
  • International research experience is considered as an important advantage.
  • You have demonstrable qualities related to academic education. Teaching experience is a plus.
  • You possess organizational skills and have a cooperative attitude. You also have leadership skills within a university context.
  • Your spoken and written English is excellent. The official administrative language used at KU Leuven is Dutch. If you do not speak Dutch (or do not speak it well) at the start of employment, KU Leuven will provide language training to enable you to take part in administrative meetings. Before teaching courses in Dutch or English, you will be given the opportunity to learn Dutch resp. English to the required standard.


  • We offer full-time employment in an intellectually challenging environment. KU Leuven is a research-intensive, internationally oriented university that carries out both fundamental and applied scientific research. Our university is highly inter- and multidisciplinary focused and strives for international excellence. In this regard, we actively collaborate with research partners in Belgium and abroad. We provide our students with an academic education that is based on high-quality scientific research.
  • Depending on your qualifications and academic experience, you will be appointed to or tenured in one of the grades of the senior academic staff: assistant professor, associate professor, professor or full professor. In principle, junior researches are appointed as assistant professor on the tenure track for a period of 5 years; after this period and a positive evaluation, they are permanently appointed as an associate professor.
  • You will work in Leuven, a historic and dynamic and vibrant city located in the heart of Belgium, within twenty minutes from Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and less than two hours from Paris, London and Amsterdam.
  • KU Leuven is well set to welcome foreign professors and their family and provides practical support with regard to immigration and administration, housing, childcare, learning Dutch, partner career coaching, …
  • In order to facilitate scientific onboarding and accelerate research in the first phase a starting grant of 100.000 euro is offered to new professors without substantial other funding and appointed for at least 50%. In addition, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences provides financial resources to recruit a doctoral fellow for a period of 4 years, starting one year after appointment as a research professor.


More information on the content of the job can be obtained from the academic contact person Prof. dr. Anton Van Rompaey, tel. +3216326403, mail : .

More information on the guidelines, regulations and application file is available from Ms. Kristin Vermeylen ( , tel. +32 16 32 09 07) or Ms. Christelle Maeyaert ( , tel. +32 16 31 41 94).

More detailed information is available on following website

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

published: 03 July 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.