The Faculty of Science and Institute of Environmental Sciences are looking for: PhD student systematic approach to environmental impact assessment for advanced materials (0.8-1.0 fte) Vacancy number: 23-017

New nanomaterials, often termed ‘advanced materials’, are increasingly used in all kinds of new technologies. They are perceived to be among the key materials and products that are needed within the main societal transitions that are currently taking place, especially the energy transition and the prevention and adaptation to climate change.

Advanced materials are thus in their initial stages of development and although it is not clear which materials will eventually be employed in the technologies of the future, it is clear that they are structurally diverse and that they will induce a plethora of adverse impact pathways in the environment. This calls for the development of pro-active strategies for mechanistically based impact assessment for future generations of advanced materials, in order to answer the simple but nevertheless vital question: are they safe?

To answer this question, it is needed to develop novel approaches towards impact assessment of all kinds of advanced materials, probably based on fully revised fundamental principles. The key challenge for the PhD student is to develop mechanistically based approaches to safety assessment for groups of advanced materials, explicitly considering the fate and effect properties of the materials.

The research to be performed is likely to range from fate assessment in complex exposure systems to effect assessment focused on the quantification of the interactions of these novel materials at diverse levels of biological hierarchy. This will range from the organism level down to processes at the biomolecular level. It will moreover include the assessment of the interactions at the interfaces of organisms, organs, and cells – also considering the mechanisms related to eco-corona formation. We aim to develop general testing strategies that underpin Adverse Outcome Pathways and/or are relevant to population effects.

Key tasks

  • Safety assessment of relevant groups of advanced (nano)materials
  • Development of fate assessment approaches for groups of advanced (nano)materials
  • Development of mechanistically based dose-response models of advanced (nano)materials

Selection criteria

  • A M.Sc. degree in a relevant field (e.g. ecotoxicology, environmental science, and/or biology), but we also consider candidates from other scientific fields with good quantitative skills and an interest in studying human induced impacts on organisms
  • Experimental and laboratory skills are preferred
  • Preferably: fate/effect modeling and/or statistical skills
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English and good communication skills
  • Team player and having a collaborative attitude

Research at our Institute/Faculty
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programs. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,800 staff and almost 6,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) is positioned in the Faculty of Sciences. The core focus of CML is to perform research and education in the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Sciences. CML has two Departments: Industrial Ecology (CML-IE) and Environmental Biology (CML-EB). Presently, about 125 fte (including postdocs and PhDs) are employed at CML. CML collaborates with the TU Delft and Erasmus University in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability (LDE-CfS), Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, and other partners.

Terms and conditions
We offer a 1-year position with the possibility of extension to 4 years based on performance and following the pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. Salary ranges from € 2.541.- gross per month in the first year to € 3.247 gross per month in the fourth year based on a full-time position.  

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career program. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries can be made to Prof. dr. Martina Vijver (

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to . Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • CV
  • A motivation letter

Only applications received before the 7th of February will be considered.

Apply now

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