Postdoc Position in Simulation and Data Analysis of Marine Plastic Pollution
Utrecht University, Faculty of Science

Postdoc position in simulation and data analysis of marine plastic pollution


Job description
Plastic in the ocean is a major problem, but our understanding of the distribution, pathways and fate of the plastic litter is very limited. The project ‘Tracking Of Plastics In Our Seas (TOPIOS)’, funded by the European Research Council, will create a novel comprehensive modelling framework that simulates plastic movement through the ocean, and uses that framework to significantly improve the understanding of the plastic pollution in our oceans. We are now seeking a postdoc to work in this team.

The successful candidate will investigate the sources, pathways and fate of marine plastic pollution by performing model simulations of virtual plastic particles in the flow from Ocean General Circulation Models (OGCMs). They will analyse the output of these simulations and relate the results to dynamics of ocean circulation and properties of the plastic particles. They will confirm the skill of the simulations by comparing the output to observations of plastic distribution in the marine environment, through development and/or application of advanced statistical methods for data-model-comparison of plastic pollution.

The successful candidate will work with the TOPIOS team and is expected to (co-)supervise BSc, MSc and/or PhD students with their thesis projects.


We are looking for a candidate with:

  • a PhD in Physics, Physical Oceanography, Applied Mathematics, Data Science, Computer Science or a similar field;
  • strong programming skills (preferably python);
  • proven experience with the use of complex scientific models;
  • proven experience with the combination of observational data and numerical modelling;
  • the ability to work as an independent researcher within a wider research team;
  • the ability to perform and publish high quality research, demonstrated by a strong publication record in international peer-reviewed journals;
  • excellent level of written and spoken English;
  • proven affinity with physical oceanography (desirable);
  • proven experience with High Performance Computing techniques and facilities (desirable).


We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for one year, with a possibility for a 1.5 years extension if the evaluation is positive. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between €2,640 and €4,852 (scale 10/11 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) gross per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % per year. We offer a pension scheme, (partly paid) parental leave, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model).

About the organization
A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old center and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the Netherlands.


The Faculty of Science consists of six Departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 5,600 students and nearly 1,500 staff and is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty's academic programmes reflect developments in today's society.

The mission of the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) is to contribute to the basic science of the oceans, atmosphere and cryosphere. This knowledge is used in studies on climate change and the possible implications for mankind.

Additional information
Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from Dr Erik van Sebille.

To apply please attach a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae and (e-mail) addresses of two referees. As part of the selection procedure, the candidate is expected to give an outline of his/her research plans in an oral presentation.

The application deadline is 15 January 2019. To apply, please click the application button below.


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