Do you have a master in microbiology/virology and strong affinity for engineering/modeling or vica vesta? We have a very interesting and fully funded PhD position!

Job description

Erasmus MC, TU Delft, and Erasmus University Rotterdam have joined forces in the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC). PDPC aims to prepare society for future pandemics and disasters. We will reduce vulnerabilities and risks and build resilience through effective disaster prevention, preparedness and recovery measures. Convergence of the technical, medical and social sciences is essential for developing the next generation of approaches to disasters and pandemics. In the foreseeable future, our society can expect many more and unforeseen virus outbreaks and extreme events because of climate change. But how do we protect society from the next pandemic or disaster? Which of the lessons learnt could develop prevention and intervention measures, and how could research contribute to preparedness?

One of the pillars of preparedness is a well-functioning early warning system. As most emerging diseases travel quickly around the world via our global transport networks of people, animals and goods, early warning focusing on detection of (trends in) virus (sequences) of concern could potentially prevent outbreaks. In this frontrunner project on integrated early warning surveillance tools and methods, 3 PhD candidates and one postdoc will work with a large multidisciplinary team of senior researchers.The project is highly collaborative. Within the project we aim to identify and characterize critical nodes in the complex global network of transport and migration for the emergence and dissemination of new viruses. Using rapid deployable and innovative sampling and detection methods we will further investigate these critical nodes. 

As a PhD candidate in this project, you will develop/refine the sampling systems for water- and airborne viruses via ad hoc and longitudinal surveillance of various environmental matrices in transport hubs (airport/aircraft sanitary water, ships, animal manure, animal cages/beddings, surface dust, wastewater). Research challenges are representative sampling and effective and reproducibly capture and extraction of sufficient virus material. Sampling systems will be validated using a MLII experimental setup developed through collaboration between EMC, WUR and TU Delft, applying different environmental conditions.

After validation they will be tested in living labs for intelligent pandemic surveillance in the Port of Rotterdam and Schiphol airport, by sampling airport and sanitary wastewater of intercontinental aircrafts, cruise ships and traded animals and their transport environment. You will explore the possibility to rapidly deploy the sampling systems in (anticipated) flooding events to characterize pathogen inputs/dynamics at sites (rivers, lakes, estuaries, storm water overflows) that are at risk of flooding and collect pathogen data to validate pathogen emission and transport models.

Within the project you will collaborate with one PhD candidate positioned at TU Delft that is working on global transport network analysis and one PhD candidate at Erasmus MC that is working on detection of viruses of concern. In addition, you will take part in field work in the Port of Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport and some of the research will take place at the KWR water research institute, Wageningen University and Research, and TU Delft. During the project you will also closely collaborate with GGD Rotterdam Rijnmond, and Erasmus University.


Our ideal candidate is required to have: 

  • A MSc in microbiology/virology with strong affinity for engineering/modelling or vice versa.
  • A strong background and interest in sampling, detection and modelling of pathogens in water.
  • An independent, self-motivated and curiosity-driven mind.
  • Excellent communicator and collaborator skills with peers and partners.
  • A scientific attitude and analytical skills combined with a hands-on mentality.
  • Molecular laboratory experience proven by lab courses, internships or other previous work.
  • Excellent writing skills.
  • Dedication and enthusiasm for innovative research, combined with scientific curiosity and the capacity for teamwork in an interdisciplinary environment.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals and supports its scientists in integrating Open Science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof.dr. Gertjan Medema, e-mail:  

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 4 December 2022 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.


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