PhD Living Technosols: Earthworms’ contribution to evolution, spatial variability and ecosystem services delivery of urban soils

Location: Wageningen; Hours:38; Function

Are you a soil scientist interested in urban soils and their spatiotemporal variability and functions? Do you have a special affinity with earthworms, their functional diversity and the ecosystem services they can support? Do you want to take up the challenge and use citizen science as a research tool? Then you could be the ideal PhD candidate for this position!

We are hiring a PhD candidate for a 4-year project that aims to understand the dynamics of earthworm community structure and activities in Technosols (urban soil constructions) for the sustainable development of urban ecosystems. You will study the role of earthworms in urban soil formation and processes, and finally develop management recommendations for earthworm-based solutions to enhance ecosystem services: carbon sequestration, nitrogen cycling and water infiltration and storage. You will use a wide range of complementary methods to systematically analyze the role of earthworms in the evolution and spatial variability of Technosols’ ecosystem services, including soil surveys, laboratory/greenhouse/field experiments.

In this PhD project, you will use the ‘city of life sciences’ Wageningen as a case to study the contribution of earthworms to ecosystem services delivery by urban soils. The municipality of Wageningen is a research partner, and you will involve the citizens of Wageningen using a citizen science approach.

You will be part of the Soil Geography & Landscape group (SGL, one of the four Soil Science cluster chair groups) of Wageningen University and will join the PhD program of the PE&RC graduate school. This environment gives you all opportunities to develop new skills and kick-start your academic career.

The preferred starting date is March 1st, 2023.

Function Requirements

    A completed (or about to be completed) MSc degree in environmental science, physical geography, soil science, earth science, biology, or a related field.

    Affinity with environmental monitoring, soil survey, laboratory and greenhouse experiments for studying soil properties, processes and functions, and estimating soil-based ecosystem services.

    Ability to work independently, plan and carry out laboratory experiments and soil survey, process and organize data using statistical methods and data management techniques.

    Preferably experience with geo-information software and programming languages, such as QGIS and the R language for statistical computing. Experience with proximal sensing and IoT technologies for environmental monitoring will be an advantage.

    Excellent communication and organization skills needed to create a network for collecting data and disseminating information using citizen science approach (communicating with stakeholders, making protocols for data collection, organizing events, managing database and dashboard).

    Excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.

    You are a creative, communicative, and intrinsically motivated colleague who takes initiative.

Working conditions

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

    partially 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 compensation / 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 € 2,541 per month rising to € 3,247 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 18th consecutive time.

Contact information

For more information about this position, please contact dr Slava Vasenev,

For more information about the procedure, please contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter,

Do you want to apply?

You can apply directly by uploading your CV (max 2 A4) and motivation letter, using the apply button

This vacancy will be listed up to and including January 16th 2023.

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. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

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. Therefore, Wageningen 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 housing, and if applicable day care, schools, assistance in finding a job for your partner, or other issues related to moving to Wageningen.


The mission of Wageningen University & 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 (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.


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