Research assistant: Environmental Physiology of Lettuce; Are you enthusiastic about learning more about physiology of plants grown under fully controlled conditions?

Within vertical farming, tipburn is a marked issue that can significantly decrease yields and profit for these high intensity operations. The prevailing theory is that tipburn is caused by a calcium deficiency in the tips of newly emerging leaves. Furthermore, it is thought that, because calcium moves passively within the plant through the transpiration stream, tipburn occurs because the young inner leaves of a lettuce plant do not sufficiently transpire.

However, this theory has not yet been sufficiently tested in a rigorous model. We are developing a physiological model that has the  capacity to predict tipburn, but experiments are quite large and time consuming, so we need a dedicated research assistant to maintain ongoing experiments. Your tasks include setting up, conducting, maintaining and harvesting lettuce plants from climate chambers; building and maintaining experimental equipment (instrumentation); and organizing data.   

Your qualities

We are looking for a result-driven team player with creative ideas, excellent communication skills as well as good proficiency in English.

  • You have at minimum a BSc in horticulture, plant sciences, biology or related field
  • You are creative with good critical thinking capacities
  • Have some research experience working with plants.
  • You have interest in basic plant physiological measurements and environmental instrumentation

You can see that there are plenty of challenges ahead of you. These challenges can also be seen as development opportunities. So if you do not yet have the track-record required in the vacancy, but do have solid work experience, we would also like to invite you to apply.

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 of course receive a good salary. Depending on your experience, we offer a competitive gross salary of between € 3.024,- and € 4.317,- for a full-time working week of 38 hours, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale 9). Additionally, a contract for 0,7 – 1 FTE can be discussed. (IF APPLICABLE). You will initially receive a 30 months contract, which will be extended to an open-ended contract upon mutual enthusiasm.

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. 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 Paul Kusuma, email, or Leo Marcelis, e-mail For more information about the procedure, please contact

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 5th June 2023. We hope to schedule the first job interviews in week 25.

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.

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: This research is part of ‘Sky High: Vertical farming, a revolution in plant production’ which is an inter-disciplinary consortium of researchers and companies that investigates many aspects of vertical farming from plant physiological research to systems modelling. Vertical farming is a novel technology where plants are grown on many stacked layers with LED light.

The ambition of the vertical farming industry is to warrant a secure and sustainable vegetable supply: no pesticides, no nutrient emission, only 2-4 litres water per kg produce, at least twentyfold less land use, lower food mileage, less waste and lower energy use per kg produce compared to greenhouses.

You will work at the chair group Horticulture and Product Physiology. This group conducts high impact research and educates students providing the scientific basis required to answer questions that are of utmost importance for sustainable crop production and product quality in horticulture.

The research focus is on how physiological processes in crops, plants and plant organs interact with the abiotic environment and how this affects crop production and product quality. Questions arising from horticultural practice are translated into fundamental research topics, aiming to explain mechanisms. The research and education contribute to sustainably feeding the World with healthy high-quality products.

The chair group is an international team consisting of 20 staff members, about 35 PhD candidates and postdocs and guest researchers. Each year approximately 40 MSc students conduct their thesis study (6-month research) in our group. We organize and participate in a variety of courses for BSc and MSc students to transfer knowledge on horticulture (pre- and post-harvest), environmental physiology and product quality.

Apply now

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