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PhD or Postdoc position: "Predictive modelling of Benthic habitats to improve regional sea forecasting"

Netherlands, Zeeland, YersekeEstuarine & Delta Systems (EDS)

Job description

The Department of Estuarine & Delta Systems (EDS - location Yerseke) of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Royal NIOZ) is looking for a highly motivated PhD student (4yrs) or postdoc (3 yrs) with a background in marine biology/ecology and with a keen interest in numerical modelling, to improve the modelling of benthic biological communities in European seas.


The research is part of the European project NECCTON (New Copernicus Capability for Trophic Ocean Networks), aiming at the improvement of the European marine models representing the Global Ocean and the European Regional seas.

Focus of the research is on the development and/or improvement of models of benthic biological communities. The approach is to combine mechanistic models that represent the physiology of organisms (e.g. DEB models) with statistical modelling techniques (e.g., niche-based models), to (1) simulate and map the benthic ecosystems, and (2) estimate their feedback on the pelagic system.

The work will focus on habitat building species, on species of particular interest for conservation and on species that are important for fishery and aquaculture (e.g., mussels, macroalgae, seagrasses).

In the final phase of the project, the new modules will be linked to regional biogeochemical models, and the impact of benthic communities on pelagic biogeochemistry and higher trophic levels assessed.

The candidate will be embedded in the (large) CMEMS network of European modelers, that develop an integrated modelling system on the European level. There will be close cooperation with one postdoc that deals with niche modelling (within the NIOZ), and with hydrodynamical modelers from the University of Liege (Prof. Ir. Marilaure Gregoire).

Ultimately the work will improve the ability of the European models to represent the benthic habitats, in a way that is relevant for ocean policy and economic growth.


The candidate will be mainly supervised by Prof. Dr. Karline Soetaert from NIOZ-EDS and Utrecht University (The Netherlands), and in close cooperation with Prof. ir. Marilaure Gregoire from Liege University (Belgium). Prof. Soetaert is an expert in biological and ecological modelling, and software development; Prof. Gregoire is expert in hydrodynamical modeling, and data assimilation, more specifically in the Black Sea. The PhD thesis will be defended at Utrecht University.


The candidate will become member of the department of Estuarine and Delta Systems research (EDS, NIOZ-Yerseke). This department studies how the interplay between biota, hydrodynamics, sediment dynamics and biochemistry shapes the estuarine, deltaic and coastal environments in the context of natural and human-induced environmental changes. Central is a multidisciplinary holistic approach that combines state-of-the-art measurements, and manipulative experiments with mathematical and numerical modelling to create in-depth process understanding.
The combination of modelling and physiological expertise makes this department an ideal environment for successfully completion of this work.

Job requirements


Here are some features that make you the ideal candidate for this research position:

  • You have a master in biology, biogeochemistry, or oceanography, or similar. This degree should have been acquired before the end of 2022;
  • You have experience in modelling, or you have large affinity with numerical models and are keen to extend your knowledge on this;
  • You value cooperation within the European context;
  • You are good at managing priorities and meeting deadlines;
  • You are a team player, are well organized, are ambitious, and have excellent written and oral communication skills.

We strive to ensure that our staff reflect the diversity of society, including age, gender, ethnic and cultural background. We therefore very much appreciate candidates who are able to increase the diversity of NIOZ.


For a PhD position, these conditions apply:

We offer a full time PhD position. After a 12-month probationary period and successful evaluation, the position is extended for 36 months for a maximum employment of 4 years. The salary is compliant to the CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes)

For a Postdoc position, these conditions apply:

We offer a 3 year full time Postdoc position. The salary is compliant to the CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes) scale 10 or 11 depending on relevant experience.

Employment is at Royal NIOZ by NWO-I (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research) and the position will be based at NIOZ-Yerseke . Furthermore, we offer a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus of 8,3% of the gross annual salary, flexible work arrangements and 42 days of holiday leave (fulltime position). You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation.

Royal NIOZ EDS is located in the village of Yerseke in the province of Zeeland and lies in the middle of the ‘Delta area’ on the southern border of the Eastern Scheldt. Yerseke offers a diverse but moderate level of facilities, including a thriving tourist industry, shops, sports facilities and primary schools. Within commuting distance, you will find cities like Antwerp, Breda, Goes, Middelburg and Vlissingen.


Please apply online at

For additional information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. dr. Karline Soetaert

For additional information about the procedure, please contact Mylene Lormans (sr. HR advisor). Please visit NIOZ and the department of EDS.

Closing date for applications: December 4th, 2022. Interviews are foreseen in the second week of December 2022 (first round of interviews will be online via Microsoft Teams)