Do you want to contribute to research into defence strategies of plants against various insects? Are you pursuing a PhD studentship where you become part of the collaborative academic environment of Wageningen University & Research? Then you might be the candidate we are looking for!

As PhD student you will unravel how plant species in the family Brassicaceae differ in their defence strategies to deal with attack by multiple insect species. Plants respond to insect attack by mobilizing defences that specifically target the current attacker. How this response limits or provides opportunities to deal with future attack and how plants account for future risks will be the focus of your research.

In controlled greenhouse studies you will challenge plants with various patterns of herbivore attack to identify how plant responses to current attack are influenced by previous attack. You will directly collaborate with other PhDs and post-docs. The team links plant physiological adaptations to attack by multiple herbivores in a plant phylogenetic context (your work) to plant growth-defence strategies and patterns of plant-insect interactions in the field.   

In your approach, you will combine plant physiological measurements such as phytohormone and defence chemistry analyses, with insect and plant performance measurements. You will characterise how plants integrate responses to multiple attacks by targeted gene-expression studies and RNA-seq transcriptome profiling. This includes to learn basic bioinformatics and advanced statistical modelling. 

We ask

  • A successfully completed MSc degree in life sciences, plant sciences or biology.
  • You are an enthusiastic and team-oriented plant physiologist or molecular ecologist.
  • You enjoy puzzling on experimental designs to find a feasible solution to test challenging hypotheses on how plants deal with attack by multiple herbivores.
  • In collaboration with other young scientists, you are reliable, communicative, and supportive.
  • Your knowledge and experience has a strong basis in plant physiological responses to stress, and you enjoy to combine molecular and physiological profiling of plant responses to insect attack with measurements on plant and insect performance.
  • Hands on experience in basic molecular techniques such as sample preparation and qPCR is expected.
  • Affinity with bioinformatics in RNA-seq transcriptome analysis is considered a pre.
  • You have a very good level of oral and written English. You are required to show us a certification of English skills.

We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team. The gross salary for the first year is € 2.443,- per month rising to € 3.122,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours.

We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research’s International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

More information

Do you want more information?
For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Erik H. Poelman,
For more information about the procedure, please contact

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly by uploading your CV and motivation letter, using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.
This vacancy will be listed up to and including 18th September 2022. We hope to schedule the first job interviews soon after this closing date. The preferred starting date for this position is 01/11/2022.
Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR.

We are

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7.200 employees and 13.200 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

Laboratory of Entomology
Laboratory of Entomology of Wageningen University addresses the ecology of insects with a focus on understanding ecological phenomena in the context of the underlying mechanisms. At the Laboratory of Entomology the research teams consist of ambitious scientists and we aim at an interdisciplinary approach from cellular to community level to unravel biological phenomena underlying the functioning of plant-insect communities, insect vectored diseases, insect neurobiology and insects as food and feed. The Laboratory of Entomology is part of the Plant Sciences Group of the Wageningen University & Research. The position is in the team of Dr. Poelman, that studies community ecology of plant-insect interactions and consists of ecologists, entomologists, molecular biologists and computational modelers.

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