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. UU wishes to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.

PhD position in Numerical Modelling of Mediterranean Circulation in the Geological Past (4 years)

The department of Earth Sciences is looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate with a MSc in Earth Sciences, Physical Oceanography, or other appropriate field, for a study in numerical modelling of Mediterranean circulation in the geological past.

How the overturning circulation of the Mediterranean Sea responds to variations in forcing (tectonics and climate) is a fundamental question that potentially has global significance given that Mediterranean circulation has elements in common with the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. It is also a highly relevant question for the countries bordering the sea in view of our warming climate.

In this NWO-funded project (Dutch Research Council) we will exploit the paleoceanographical record of the late Quaternary which provides an exceptional dataset on e.g. water properties, intensity of intermediate and deep-water formation and strait flow. You will design and execute experiments with dynamic box models and evaluate their results using the available data. The geometrically simple box model is chosen because it can be run following the evolution of circulation and water properties through time, thus doing justice to the transient nature of the processes at play. The analysis will focus on the role of:

  • the Strait of Sicily;
  • the properties of the inflowing waters; and
  • sea-level variation.

You will be based at the department of Earth Sciences where you will be part of a vibrant PhD community and where expertise in both paleoceanography/paleoclimate and numerical modelling is amply available.

A personalised training programme will be set up, reflecting your training needs and career objectives. About 20% of your time will be dedicated to this training component, which includes training on the job in assisting in the Bachelor's and Master's programmes of the department.


You must have completed your MSc degree in Earth Sciences, Physical Oceanography, or a related discipline by the time the position starts. We seek candidates that have a keen interest in working on the interface between marine geology and physical oceanography. The ideal candidate:

  • has knowledge of and experience with numerical modelling applied to Earth's processes, using programming languages such as Python, MATLAB or R;
  • has a solid basis in physics - specific knowledge regarding physical oceanography or (geophysical) fluid mechanics is an asset;
  • is trained in the concepts of sedimentary geology required for this project: aspects of sedimentology, stratigraphy and paleoceanography;
  • is willing and able to interact with specialists in the various disciplines that come together in this project.

Due to the international character of our department, good command of spoken and written English is essential. We highly encourage applicants from all members of our community and of diverse backgrounds to join us.

Terms of employment:

You will be offered a full-time PhD position, initially for one year with extension to four years in total upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross monthly salary starts with € 2,770 in the first year and increases to € 3,539 in the fourth year of employment with a full-time appointment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. A pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities.

In addition to the collective employment conditions, 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 organisations:

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. 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 and high-performance computational facilities.

About Utrecht:

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 our campus in Utrecht 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 (not applications), please contact Dr Paul Meijer (associate professor and project leader) at p.meijer@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. We aim for a quick selection procedure after the deadline of August 15th, 2024. The preferred starting date is October 1st or as soon as possible thereafter.

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 and, unfortunately, we must warn that it is a tight market at the moment. 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: 10 July 2024     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.