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PhD position: “Modeling organisms as landscape builders in the Wadden Sea”

  • Yerseke, Zeeland, Netherlands
Estuarine & Delta Systems (EDS)

Job description

The Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems research of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) is looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate to study the interactions between biota and sediment in the Wadden Sea using mathematical modelling (position for 4 years).


NIOZ is the national oceanographic institute of the Netherlands. Its principal mission is to perform academically excellent, multidisciplinary, fundamental and frontier-applied marine research and education addressing important scientific and societal questions pertaining to the functioning of oceans, seas and deltas. NIOZ advances fundamental understanding of marine systems, the way they change, the role they play in climate and biodiversity, and how they may provide sustainable solutions to society in the future. NIOZ serves as national marine research facilitator for the scientific community in the Netherlands. In addition to its research and education, NIOZ supports marine-policy development within the national and international context.


The department of Estuarine and Delta Systems (EDS) of NIOZ is based in Yerseke. We study how the interplay between biota, hydrodynamics, sediment dynamics and biochemistry shapes the estuarine, deltaic and coastal environments within the context of natural and human-induced environmental changes. Our department has a multidisciplinary approach that combines state-of-the-art biophysical, biochemical, ecological and physiological measurements and experiments with remote sensing and numerical modelling to create in-depth understanding of the processes that control estuarine and delta systems. One important focus for the department is how our research can create value for society.


The transdisciplinary project PaRCA is a joint Dutch-German initiative about the Dutch, German, and Danish Wadden Sea that aims to analyze pathways for realizing a sustainable climate adaptation of the Wadden Sea. The project aims to develop routes towards the preservation of a resilient Wadden Sea ecosystem with associated ecosystem services and biodiversity under accelerating SLR.

Within this project, the NIOZ will develop a combined modelling- and empirical study that aims to investigate how Biological-sedimentary feedback processes created by seagrass fields, mussel beds, diatom biofilms, and salt marshes affect spatial sediment dynamics on the intertidal areas in the Wadden Sea. Spatially-explicit models of sediment redistribution will be developed that investigate how the above communities interact to determine sediment redistribution on large spatial scales (e.g. in tidal basin). The predictions will be tested against remote-sensing information of sediment grain size dynamics (as determined by Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellite Imagery, and biological community (as determined by NDVI, and maps of mussel presence) to improve model accuracy. The models will then be used to forecast how the intertidal system will response to natural (storms) and anthropogenic (sediment nourishments) disturbances, and how this will shape the resilience of the Wadden Sea system to sea level rise.

Job requirements


We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with:

• an MSc degree in marine ecology, earth science, applied physics or similar

• affinity with mathematical and numerical modelling

• affinity with intertidal systems and doing field observations and experiments (to a small extent)

• an open, communicative and collaborative attitude

• good English oral and writing skills

The candidate will be based at NIOZ in Yerseke, in cooperation with University of Delft.

NIOZ wants to be a transparent institute with a healthy working climate and an inclusive culture, where people from diverse backgrounds and gender bring their talents and further develop these talents. We aim for inclusive decision-making processes and expect our leadership to show visible commitment, awareness of bias, and cultural intelligence.


  • Employment of this full-time position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO-I, for a total duration of 4 years. You start with an appointment for the duration of 1 year and, after a positive evaluation in the 9th month (Go-No go), you will be extended to the full period of 4 years.
  • Salary compliant with scales for PhD candidate (OIOs) CAO-WVOI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes).
  • An appointment at NIOZ as a PhD candidate means working and learning simultaneously conform the NIOZ PhD policy.
  • 338 annualized holiday hours for a full-time 40-hour work week.
  • Pension scheme via ABP, 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.33%.
  • 2nd class public transportation travel is reimbursed 100%.
  • Employment benefits plan to exchange a portion of your salary for days off or vice versa, or can be used to purchase a bicycle with tax benefits.
  • We offer relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation. Yerseke is located on commuting distance from major cities such as Antwerpen, Breda, Bergen op Zoom and Middelburg.


For additional information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. Dr. Johan van de Koppel. For additional information about the procedure, please send an e-mail to

Closing date for this vacancy is August 18th, 2024, Interviews will be held at NIOZ Yerseke or online on Monday 26th of August We aim for this project to start on November 1st, 2024.