For predicting the epidemic or epizootic potential of diseases, it is critical to timely detect the circulation of pathogens, trace their (zoonotic) origins and establish which species contribute to transmission. This often requires elaborate tools and techniques that are not always available in areas where they matter most, such as in poor and remote communities in the Global South. Mosquitoes, but also the bloodmeals they carry, could be exploited to assess pathogen presence and circulation (not restricted to vector-borne pathogens).
This approach is known as xenodiagnostics or xenosurveillance. The Laboratory of Entomology and the Bionanotechnology group of Wageningen University have teamed up to tackle this challenge. The team has close collaborations with Médécins Sans Frontieres to allow co-design and evaluation of suitable approaches/technologies.
You will work on the development of a novel approach for catching and analyzing (blood-fed) mosquitoes based on (1) the exploitation of new lures to attract and trap (blood-fed) mosquitoes and (2) the development of low-cost and easy-to-use (molecular) tests for pathogen detection in mosquitoes. The project ultimately aims to contribute to improved disease surveillance systems and to new, environmentally friendly interventions to halt disease transmission.
As part of this project, your duties include: (i) performing behavioral assays with different mosquito species using windtunnels and controlled release studies in our camera-equipped flight arenas and (ii) developing and optimizing protocols for manual or automatic nucleic acid extraction from the mosquitos (e.g. for LAMP or PCR based diagnostics) for pathogen identification and detection using controlled infection studies in the lab and mosquitoes collected in the field.
- MSc degree in (Molecular) Biology / Biotechnology / Molecular Life Sciences with a specialization in bio-interactions or similar
- Experience with behavioral studies on insects and/or with the use of state-of-the-art molecular tools is desired but not a strict requirement.
- An interest in electronics and programming is an added advantage.
- The project involves working under BSL-2/BSL-3 conditions. We are therefore looking for a candidate that has a good understanding of biosafety and biosecurity procedures.
- We expect a candidate who can work in a multidisciplinary team in a collaborative spirit.
- PhD students are encouraged to supervise MSc and BSc thesis students when such opportunities arise.
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 (30 months) 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 Dr. Sander Koenraadt, Laboratory of Entomology, telephone (+31) 0317 – 483400 or by e-mail email@example.com. For more information about the procedure, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
You will work here
The position is embedded in the Laboratory of Entomology of Wageningen University. The research interests of the One Health Entomology group, headed by Dr. Sander Koenraadt) within the Laboratory are to understand the factors that determine the presence and/or emergence of vector-borne diseases and to unravel the underlying mechanisms from molecular to ecosystem level.
With this knowledge, the group ultimately aims to design novel strategies for vector control that are affordable, safe for human use, and sustainable in the context of our changing environment.The team consists of ambitious scientists that employ interdisciplinary approaches, both in the lab as well as in the field.
The position will be in close collaboration with the Bionanotechology group of Prof. Aldrik Velders and Vittorio Saggiomo, who are active in the fundamental science and open hardware technology of micro- and nanosystems and their applications in food and health. Teaming up with this group will provide unique opportunities to be at the forefront of novel vector and vector-borne disease surveillance approaches.
This vacancy will be listed up to and including April 10, 2023.