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 Advanced Electron Microscopy of Earth Materials for a Sustainable Society

The Department of Earth Sciences offers a four-year postdoctoral position focused on advanced electron 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 electron microscopy 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 microscopy.

Determining the intricacies of Earth materials is paramount for forging a sustainable, carbon-neutral future. These materials dictate the potential of subsurface energy storage and geothermal energy extraction and provide essential elements pivotal for advanced battery technologies. Yet, disturbances to these geological systems can pose risks, including human-induced seismic events and environmental problems. To address the pressing challenges surrounding sustainable development and a circular economy, we must facilitate comprehensive, multi-faceted analyses of Earth materials for a wide range of Earth-science fields.

You will benefit from access to Utrecht University's state-of-the-art electron microscopy centre. This facility boasts the latest generation of (cryo-)focused ion beam scanning electron microscopes (FIB-SEM), as well as (cryo-)SEMs furnished with cutting-edge, automated chemical (EDX) and crystallographic (EBSD) analytical systems. The centre also houses multiple (cryo-)transmission electron microscopes (TEM) as well as a double aberration-corrected (S)TEM equipped with highly sensitive EDX and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) functionalities. In addition, you can utilise advanced laboratory buildings equipped with chemical labs and a range of supplementary analytical instruments, including nanoSIMS, vibrational spectroscopy, and an electron microprobe. To support in-depth data analysis, you will also have access to high-performance computing power for advanced data analysis.

Joining our team means collaborating globally, ensuring broader access to forefront electron microscopes, and addressing pivotal Earth-material research challenges. They will play an instrumental role within the EXCITE community, driving the evolution of multi-scale microscopy methodologies.


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

  • You hold a PhD in Earth/environmental sciences, material sciences, physics, chemistry, or similar.
  • You are an independent operator of FIB-SEM and TEM.
  • You have proficiency in FIB-SEM-assisted sample preparation for TEM.
  • You have experience in FIB-SEM-nanotomography.
  • You have a strong inclination towards advanced TEM techniques, ideally with hands-on experience in aberration-corrected TEMs and insights into (automated) electron diffraction and EELS.
  • Fluency in written and spoken English is a key requirement, given the international work environment of the position.
  • In addition, 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.