Are you a highly motivated, curious researcher who is excited about soil-hydrological processes and environmental feedbacks? Are you eager to investigate the impact of microplastics on these processes? Do you thrive in interdisciplinary collaborations?  Are you enthusiastic about engaging in field work, laboratory experiments and modelling?  Then you could be the ideal PhD candidate to join our team!

The Soil Physics and Land Management Group (SLM) at Wageningen University is hiring two PhD candidates for a 4-year NWO project – MASTER. The project aims to unravel and quantify how microplastics affect soil structure formation and soil hydrology and how this, in turn, affects microplastic transport with runoff and erosion using various complementary methods.

Microplastic pollution is known to affect soil hydro-physical properties, such as soil structure, water holding capacity, infiltration rate etc., as well as the abundance and activity of soil structure creating biota such as earthworms. Thereby the microplastics influence the water and soil transport processes and thus also the transport of microplastics themselves. Despite erosion being the primary cause of land degradation globally, the precise mechanisms and quantities of microplastics transported with runoff and erosion is largely unknown.

Your responsibilities: You will, in a team of two PhD students, bring significant progress to this field through a combination of lab experiments, fieldwork and modelling.


  • PhD 1 will design and conduct soil mesocosm experiments to increase the understanding of microplastics on bioturbation and soil physical properties. Subsequent soil hydrological modelling will be used to quantify the influence of the microplastics on soil physical processes in space and time under different scenarios.  
  • PhD 2 will design and conduct rainfall simulation experiments to investigate how microplastics change the soil structure and thereby hydrological processes, and quantify microplastic transport by runoff and erosion. In addition, field monitoring will give insight into hillslope-scale transport of MPs. The gained knowledge will be used to improve transport processes of soil and microplastics of a soil erosion model, which will then be validated with field observations.

This project offers several connections and collaborations with other current PhD students within our group, guaranteeing an engaging and dynamic working environment. These connections will allow you to be fully integrated into a captivating and intellectually stimulating research atmosphere

Your qualities The ideal candidate must have the following qualities:

  • a completed (or about to be completed) MSc degree in soil science, physical geography, hydrology, or a related field;
  • hands-on experience in, or strong affinity with, at least two of the following: field work, laboratory experiments, hydrological or soil erosion modelling;
  • experience with soil hydro-physical analyses, programming skills as well as scientific writing;
  • ability to work independently as well as in a team;
  • analytical capabilities and a sense for scientific novelty;
  • creative, communicative and intrinsically motivated colleague who takes initiative;
  • excellent English language proficiency.

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.

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 € 2.770,- per month rising to € 3.539,- 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 Dr. Jantiene Baartman, Assistant Professor, SLM, by email: or Dr. Loes van Schaik, Assistant Pofessor, SLM, by email: For more information about the procedure please contact Noorien Abbas, Corporate Recruiter, by email:

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. Please upload a cover letter (max 1 page) outlining both your motivation and your suitability for the project, and your CV (max 2 pages) including names and contact details of two potential references.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including4 September 2023. We hope to schedule the first round of interviews on 13and 14September 2023; if you are unavailable on these dates, please indicate this in your cover letter.
Preferred starting date is 1 December 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.

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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