PhD Position at UU on Characterization of Geological, Biological and Atmospheric Methane
Utrecht University Faculty of Science

Phd Position At UU On Characterization Of Geological, Biological And Atmospheric Methane (1.0 FTE, 4 years)


Job description

Methane emitted to the atmosphere from different sources is characterized by differences in isotopic composition. The PhD candidate will analyse methane from geological, microbial and pyrogenic sources to characterize them isotopically. The PhD candidate will also analyse atmospheric air samples from the present atmosphere, and from the late industrial period  to reconstruct the variation in the clumped isotope signature over that period.


The project is one of 30 PhD positions focusing on climate research, still available and to be found on the NESSC website (Netherlands Earth System Science Centre). NESSC is a so-called Gravitation Programme, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). The programme is co-funded with a Grant that has been awarded from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme: the Marie S.-Curie COFUND programme, grant agreement No 847504. For this reason a minimum of 13 of the PhD positions are subject to EU eligibility criteria, to be selected when all applications have been received.


All PhD positions have full funding for four years and employment conditions are subject to the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement. The PhD positions will be hosted at one of the NESSC research institutes: Utrecht University, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, VU University Amsterdam or Wageningen University.

NESSC brings scientists together with a background in Physics, Earth Sciences, Ecology and Mathematics. To better understand the processes behind climate change and to improve future climate projections and predictions. NESSC offers young academics the opportunity to work on important scientific topics in not previously existing partnerships, and thus creates the conditions for innovative, groundbreaking and multidisciplinary research, including both experimental and theoretical approaches. Please click here for general information about NESSC and here for NESSC research.



NESSC will host excellent, talented, enthusiastic, highly motivated and goal-oriented Early Stage Researchers, with a no-nonsense mentality. The ideal candidates are interested in past and/or current climate research, are highly motivated to perform research in an excellent, exciting and international working environment, and are committed to a 4 year PhD track. They are excited about moving to the Netherlands and to perform a secondment at one of the NESSC COFUND Partner Organisations in the Netherlands or globally. 

For this project we seek a PhD candidate with a Master’s degree in Chemistry or Physics and strong analytical skills, experience with and interest in working with state of the art analytical equipment, and a strong mathematical background.


General requirements for applicants

  • EU eligibility criteria*: Candidates did not reside or carry out their main activity (e.g. reside, work, studies) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months during the 3 years immediately prior to the date of appointment (time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention, compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account).
  • Candidates hold an MSc degree (or will graduate before the appointment date) in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Ecology, Earth Sciences and/or Environmental Sciences.
  • Candidates are in the first four years of their research careers at the start of their NESSC COFUND appointment (full-time equivalent research experience, measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree entitling him or her to embark on a doctorate) and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Excellent proficiency of the English language (both oral and written).
  • The ability to work both independently in challenging environments and in a multidisciplinary team. Excellent communication skills and cooperation skills are required.
  • An inquisitive mind-set, accuracy, creativity and self-reliance are very important. You are required to be flexible, mobile and pro-active.
  • Enthusiasm to attend the full training programme as offered in the project and to actively contribute to the project aims and objectives.
  • High interest in receiving training from supervisors from different institutes, disciplines and sectors, this will require regular travelling within the Netherlands.
  • High motivation to contribute to the dissemination of results and outreach to both specialists and the public at large.
  • Enthusiasm to visit a Partner Organisation for a secondment (internship), in or outside the Netherlands, as this is part of the programme. Additional research visits to international institutes for research collaborations are expected.
  • Strong motivation to obtain a PhD degree.

*If you do not qualify for the EU eligibility criteria, you can still submit your application since the decision on the validity of this criteria for this position will be made later and depends on the total applications for all 30 positions.



The selected candidate will be offered a full-time PhD position at IMAU at Utrecht University, initially for one year. Depending on a satisfactory performance this may be extended to a maximum period of four years, with the intend to obtain a doctorate within this period. This evaluation usually takes place in the ninth month of employment.

Your gross salary will be in line with the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The full-time gross monthly salary ranges from €2,325 to start with in the first year, to €2,972 in the fourth year. 

The salary is supplemented by a guaranteed end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and a holiday allowance of 8% of your yearly salary. We offer a pension scheme (partly paid by employer), collective insurance schemes, parental leave, travel allowance (home to work and for work purposes), and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). 


Facilities for sports and child care are available on our main campus which is located only 15 minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht. More information is available at: working at Utrecht University.


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 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. Read the overall impression 2016 of the Faculty of Science.


The Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) offers a unique research and teaching environment, in which the fundamentals of the climate system are studied. Research is organized in five themes: Atmospheric Dynamics, Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry, Coastal and Shelf Sea Dynamics, Ice and Climate and Oceans and Climate. In 2017, IMAU research quality and impact were qualified as ‘world leading’ by an international visitation committee. Currently, IMAU employs 15 faculty members and 10 support staff and some 20 Postdocs and 25 PhD candidates. The graduate programme is organized in the Buys Ballot Research School. For more information about the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, please visit the IMAU website.


Additional information

For general or practical information on the NESSC COFUND programme, please contact For project related questions, please contact Prof. Dr. Thomas Röckmann via



All applications must be received on 19 May 2019. Candidates can only apply for a position using the application button, applications received via other channels will not be taken into account. Expected enrollment is September - December 2019.

The application should be complete, and include a written motivation letter, explaining the choice for the selected position(s), a curriculum vitae including contact details of two referees and copies of relevant diplomas and grades list.


The application deadline is


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