PhD Postion in Predicting Biodiversity Patterns with Environmental DNA
University of Twente Department of Natural Resources

Job description

The Natural Resources department (NRS) of ITC works in the domains of Agriculture and Environment with a focus on food security, biodiversity and ecosystems (forests, wetlands, drylands). The department uses earth observation data and spatial information in combination with systems modelling, geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing for the assessment, monitoring, planning and management of natural resources, for their sustainable use, development and restoration under global change.

For a European Research Council project, you will take an active part in developing an exciting new research direction linking Earth observation (EO) with eDNA metabarcoding for biodiversity assessment.

Your specific profile includes investigating whether eDNA profiles of phyllosphere communities (i.e. the microorganisms inhabiting the above-ground portions of plants) can be linked to the unique spectral signal from remote sensing as well as in situ biodiversity observational data. You will trace microbial communities (as discriminated by eDNA profiling) to a unique spectral signal, and then map the communities using remote sensing. Further, the PhD candidate investigates upscaling of microbiological communities by next-generation remote sensing.

Your profile

You have:

  • An MSc in molecular ecology, microbiology or biology, biochemistry, geography or similar.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of DNA extractions from environmental samples.
  • It is desirable to have DNA amplification and sequencing as well as bioinformatics.
  • Refined written and oral skills in English at IELTS level > 6.5.
  • It is desirable to have knowledge of upscaling (e.g. using GIS and remote sensing data)
  • Experience with programming and manipulating large data sets.
  • Experience in experimental design and statistics such as R, Python.
  • Willingness to collect field data, travel and upscale results.
  • Willingness to work in a multidisciplinary science team.


Additional information about this position can be obtained from Prof Andrew Skidmore (e-mail: or Prof Arjen de Groot ( You are also invited to visit our homepage.

Please submit your application before 15 June 2020 (choose “apply now” below). Your application must include:

  • A cover letter (maximum 1 page A4), emphasizing your specific interest, qualifications and motivations to apply for this position
  • a full Curriculum Vitae, including a list of all courses attended and grades obtained
  • a short description (maximum 1 page A4) of your MSc research with a short description of your relevant laboratory and field experience

Our offer

We offer you an inspiring multidisciplinary and challenging international and academic environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda.

You will be fulltime employed for a period of 4 years. Salary and conditions will be in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO-NU) of the Dutch Universities.

  • A starting salary of € 2,325.00 in the first year and a salary of € 2,972.00 in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • 41 holiday days in case of full-time employment;
  • Professional and personal development programs;
  • Costs for moving to Enschede may be reimbursed.

The organization

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

The Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) of the University of Twente provides international postgraduate education, research and project services in the field of geo-information science and earth observation using remote sensing and GIS. The aim of ITC's activities is the international exchange of knowledge, focusing on capacity building and institutional development in developing countries and emerging economies.

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