Are you interested in contributing to sustainable agriculture by using your skills in advanced plant modelling methods? Are you interested in revealing the trait generalities of crop combinations via a modelling approach? Then, have the perfect opportunity for you at Wageningen University & Research in two PhD positions.

You will contribute to integrating and implementing key ecological processes occurring belowground (PhD position 1) and aboveground (PhD position 2) in crop mixtures, into plant simulation models. You will also quantify plant traits in the field for model design and performance evaluation.

Your duties and responsibilities include:

  • Further developing and testing existing simulation models of plants with belowground and/or aboveground processes such as nutrient cycling, pathogen development, insect herbivory and weeds.
  • Design and execute experiments on mixed crops in order to obtain data needed for the modelling.
  • Perform elaborate simulations studies addressing questions relevant to adopting and optimizing crop mixtures for Dutch conditions.
  • Communication of results in scientific publications and on (inter)national workshops.
  • Writing a PhD thesis.
  • Contributing to the teaching portfolio of the group.

You will work here

The research is embedded within Centre for Crop Systems Analysis led by prof. Anten and prof. Evers. Your PhD project is further embedded in the CropMIX programme. This program aims at developing new knowledge about the ecological principles that make crop systems sustainably productive and to identify socio-economic and societal factors that hinder or enable the transition to crop-diversity-based agricultural systems.

Your role: Within the project your role will be to develop, parameterize and apply 3D plant simulation models to test the relevance and consequences of key ecological processes that take place in mixed crop systems. These include competition for nutrients and interaction with soil biota (PhD position 1) as well as plant-insect and crop-weed interactions (PhD position 2). You will frequently communicate with the other team members and contribute to the experiments that are needed to design and test the models.

Your qualities

You are a highly motivated candidate who sees the development and use of complex 3D plant models and the interpretation of their predictions as an interesting challenge. 

You also possess:

  • A successfully completed MSc degree in computer sciences or applied mathematics with a keen interest in plants and crops.
  • Or: a successfully completed MSc degree in plant sciences or plant biology with proven experience in simulation modelling.
  • The ability to communicate scientifically as well as with non-scientific project stakeholders.
  • Affinity to work within a larger multi-disciplinary project, and you have strong project/time management skills.

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.

We offer you

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

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and 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.

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. 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. For instance under the “30% rule”, certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.

Do you want more information? For more information about this position, please contact Prof. Jochem Evers (  For more information about the procedure, please contact Dax Teunissen ( 

Do you want to apply?

You can apply directly 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 April 17 2023. We will schedule the first job interviews soon after this date. Please indicate clearly in your application letter whether you are applying for PhD position 1 or PhD position 2.

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.

We are Wageningen University & Research

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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