Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are centred around four themes: Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues. Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

Postdoc in Correlative X-ray Microscopy of Earth Materials for a Sustainable Society

The Department of Earth Sciences offers a four-year postdoctoral position focused on correlative X-ray microscopy of Earth materials. This role is affiliated with the EXCITE² Network, supported by the European Union, comprising 19 imaging facilities. The primary objective of EXCITE² is to enable open access to these facilities across Europe and associated countries. The main effort of the new postdoc will go toward coordination of access to the X-ray tomography facilities at Utrecht University, and there will be room to collaborate on a broad range of Earth-material science topics and jointly conduct research in AI-based imaging and material analysis.

Determining the complexities of Earth materials is paramount for achieving a sustainable, carbon-neutral future. These materials underline the potential of subsurface energy storage, geothermal energy extraction, and are the backbone for the essential elements crucial for innovative battery technologies. However, disruptions to these geological systems can also lead to potential risks, such as man-made seismic activities and environmental problems. To address the significant challenges surrounding sustainable development and a circular economy, we need to ensure detailed, multi-dimensional characterisation of Earth materials across a variety of Earth-science sectors.

You will benefit from access to Utrecht University's premier X-ray tomography and electron microscopy facilities. These facilities are equipped with the latest generation of high-resolution X-ray tomography and electron microscopy instruments. In addition, you will have the possibility of using state-of-the-art laboratory structures that house chemical labs and other additional analytical tools, such as nanoSIMS, vibrational spectroscopy, and an electron microprobe. For data-heavy tasks, you will also have access to high-performance computing platforms.

Being a part of our team means engaging in international collaborations, ensuring access to cutting-edge X-ray tomography instruments, and diving deep into pressing Earth-material research challenges. You will play a vital role within the EXCITE² community, pioneering the future of multi-scale tomography methods.


We are looking for a colleague who brings multiple of the following:

  • You have a PhD in Earth/environmental sciences, material sciences, physics, chemistry, or similar.
  • You have deep expertise in advanced X-ray tomography and correlative imaging.
  • You are an independent operator of advanced X-ray tomography systems.
  • You have experience in processing and quantification of three-dimensional data sets.
  • You have experience in sample preparation for X-ray tomography.
  • Fluency in written and spoken English is a key requirement, given the international work environment of the position.

In addition, a strong interest in electron microscopy is desired, as is the drive towards becoming/being an independent operator. Experience in Python, R, C++, or MATLAB, coupled with a passion for machine learning, is a plus.

Terms of employment:

We offer:

  • a position (1.0 FTE) for two years, with the possibility to extend to four years;
  • a full-time gross salary between € 3,720 and € 5,090 in scale 10.3 - 10.9 of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (CAO);
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, sports and cultural schemes and you get discounts on software and other IT products. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow. For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

About the organisation:

The Utrecht Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. With a population of 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Sustainable Development, 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 tenured staff of over 50 scientists and more than 110 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Our research programme spans four intertwined themes: Climate & Life, Earth interior, Earth materials, and Environmental Earth Sciences. We house or have access to a wide variety of world-class laboratories. The department also has its own in-house supercomputer as well as access to national supercomputing resources.

About Utrecht:

The department and its facilities are located at Utrecht Science Park. Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands with a population of nearly 360,000 and forms a hub in the middle of the country. Its historical city centre and its modern central station can easily be reached from the Science Park by public transport or by a 15-minute bicycle ride. Utrecht boasts beautiful canals with extraordinary wharf cellars housing cafés and terraces by the water, as well as a broad variety of shops and boutiques.

Additional information:

For informal questions, please contact the project leader, Dr Oliver Plümper (associate professor) at o.plumper@uu.nl

How to apply:

To apply, please use this link to go to the advertisement on UU's own website and follow the guidelines mentioned there. The application deadline is November 30, 2023. We hope to fill the position as soon as possible in 2024.

Note that international candidates that need a visa/work permit for the Netherlands require at least four months processing time after selection and acceptance. This will be arranged with help of the International Service Desk (ISD) of our university. Finding appropriate housing in or near Utrecht is your own responsibility, but the ISD may be able to advise you therewith. In case of general questions about working and living in The Netherlands, please consult the Dutch Mobility Portal.

Online screening may be part of the selection. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.

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posted: 07 November 2023     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.