PhD Position in Risk-assessment of Re-use in Cyclic Water Systems
University of Amsterdam Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

PhD Risk-assessment of re-use in cyclic water systems

Publication date 30 April 2021

Closing date 24 May 2021

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,395 to €3,144 gross per month, based on 38 hours per week

Vacancy number 21-307

Would you like to contribute to a successful water transition? Do you have an interest in environmental chemistry and risk assessment? Are you looking for a PhD position where stakeholder interaction dynamics and teamwork are  keys to success? We have a vacancy for a PhD in ‘Risk-assessment of re-use in cyclic water systems’ in the new AquaConnect program.

AquaConnect is a NWO-funded research program with 13 PhD’s and 4 Post Docs supported by about 40 stakeholders that aims to develop innovative solutions for making water supply resilient against future droughts. The Dutch delta faces enormous challenges in fresh water provision for industry, agriculture, nature and drinking water due to increasingly frequent severe droughts. This requires a water transition towards a system that stores surplus instead of discharging it, and that is able to make use of alternative water sources, such as municipal or industrial wastewater, brines, stored surface waters, precipitation, polder waters, cooling water or a mix of various alternative waters. Closing water cycles and using these alternative sources increases the risk of accumulation of contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) in water cycles. To realize safe re-use, information therefore will be required on the risks that CEC and their possible transformation products (TP) pose, i.e. their fate during the re-use, the exposure and risks to human and environmental health and the need to mitigate these risks.

What are you going to do

You will contribute to AquaConnect by scientific research into risk-assessment of cyclic water systems that include treatment technologies, nature-based treatment and storage.

You will study CEC and their TP, examine their occurrence, fate during re-use, removal during technologies applied and ultimate risks to humans and environment. We aim at a systematic investigation in both laboratory and full-scale case studies. You will focus your research on the following:

  • The fate and risks of CEC during water re-use will be evaluated based on High Resolution Mass Spectrometry, Next Generation Sequencing and Effect Based Monitoring;
  • evaluation of mitigation options, e.g. how use of alternative source or water pre-treatment by advanced and/or nature-based technologies can lower occurrence of CECs;
  • identification of most problematic parent compounds that might hamper current intentions to reach a more circular use of water and evaluate compounds’ common properties;
  • determine how the risk assessments currently underpinning the registration and authorization of chemicals can be adapted to water re-use and circular economy;
  • generalization of lessons learned in practical and science-based guidelines for end-users.

You will combine laboratory work, modelling work and field experiments and communicate your results via conference presentations and publications in peer-reviewed journals. You will write a high-quality PhD thesis, while closely working with the program team.

Furthermore, we expect you to be an active member of our research group and to take part in teaching efforts, including assisting in practical courses and supervision of bachelor and master students. We aim to start with AquaConnect on September 1st, 2021.

What do we require

  • A successfully completed MSc degree in environmental sciences, chemistry, biology with a focus on environmental chemistry, toxicology and risk assessment;
  • you can show relevant scientific and technical skills, have experience with practical lab work, preferably related to environmental chemistry;
  • good analytical and statistical skills, including the use of programming languages;
  • you have excellent English language and communication skills;
  • you are motivated to pursue a PhD, are independent and have the ability to collaborate and to engage in a training network;
  • you are a team player and can easily link to other scientific disciplines. Working together across disciplines is essential for the success of this program.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students. 

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,395 gross per month, based on a fulltime contract (38 hours a week). This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.

About the Faculty of Science and the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. The research at IBED aims to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. At its core lies an integrated systems approach to study biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment. IBED adopts this systems approach to ecosystems, addressing abiotic (soil and water quality) and biotic factors (ecology and evolution of plants, animals, and microorganisms), and the interplay between those. The IBED vision includes research encompassing experimental and theoretical approaches at a wide variety of temporal and spatial scales, i.e. from molecules and microorganisms to patterns and processes occurring at the global scale.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

  • prof dr Annemarie van Wezel
  • T. + 31 (0)20 525 5684 or +31 (0)6 287 59 454 

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 24 May 2021. You can apply online by using the link below. 

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a motivation letter;
  • a CV including a list of publications.

Please mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews soon after May 24th.

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


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