PhD Climate Resilience Delta Areas Supported by Responsible Data Infrastructures


Campus Fryslan


Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative institution of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the approximately 32,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global centre of knowledge.

Campus Fryslân is the ambitious eleventh and newest faculty of the University of Groningen, located in Leeuwarden. Campus Fryslân is an interdisciplinary faculty that works closely together with regional, national and international partners on worldwide (sustainability) challenges and local solutions. The sustainable development goals of the United Nations thus serve as an important guideline.

We offer challenging bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degree programmes. The research institute covers four research domains: Governance, Sustainable Economy, Culture, Language & Technology and Health & Food. In the summer of 2019, Campus Fryslân has moved to the new faculty building De Beurs: the first all-electric, monumental educational building in The Netherlands.

Job description

Campus Fryslân offers a four-year PhD position to complete a PhD in Knowledge Infrastructures for Climate Adaptation aimed at Climate Resilience in Delta Areas Supported by Responsible Data Infrastructures. The PhD candidate will be connected to the Data Research Centre of Campus Fryslân and supervised by Dr Tessa van der Voort and Dr Anne Beaulieu. The PhD candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Campus Fryslân (GSCF) and depending on profile, in the graduate school WTMC. PhD candidates can benefit from affiliations at research institutes of the University of Groningen, such as the Bernoulli Institute for Mathematics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence or ESRIG - Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen, among others, as appropriate to the PhD Project.

In the framework of unprecedented global environmental change, it is key to map and increase environmental resilience. In this project, we aim to acquire insights into ongoing environmental changes in delta areas and build sustainable knowledge infrastructures that can elucidate ongoing changes.

The goal of this project it to investigate resilience of northern European delta areas to global environmental change by focusing on three key factors. Firstly, by mapping the current state and ongoing change in soils and soil fertility. A specific focus will be on soil subsidence and carbon oxidation. Secondly by connecting this to biodiversity and ecology, and thirdly by connecting this to water availability in a changing climate. Methods to acquire this include more data-driven techniques (enabled by UAVs) and hands-on field work in the region. This is all done in the framework of setting up sustainable and responsible data collection practices that ensure that multi-dimensional data is tractable and enables climate adaptation action on the part of multiple users (e.g. governance stakeholders and members of the public). The CRISP-DM data science framework will be adapted and implemented to ensure an iterative approach is applied throughout the project. This will lead to data which are collected responsibly and safeguarded in sustainable knowledge infrastructures.

Delta areas are at the frontier of global change due to their geographical setting whilst they tend to be most heavily populated areas across the globe. In this project, we focus on delta areas in Northern Europe, with the aim to translate and transport findings and our robust research approach to other areas across the globe.

The aim of this project is to better understand environmental resilience in delta areas and contribute to knowledge infrastructures, as well as to contribute to the design of tools that support the responsible gathering of data. The interdisciplinary context of the Data Research Centre at Campus Fryslân and dual supervision by two experts will make it possible to address these goals in an integrated way.

The group contributes to research and engagement, in close collaboration with societal groups and public institutions at the local, regional and global level.

Research question
The main question to be explored in this project is how we can understand and map resilience of northern European delta areas to global environmental change. This is done by focusing on three key facets: soil, water and biodiversity/ecology.

Wetterskip Fryslân, Collaboration on data; experts and fieldwork

FSE, University of Groningen, Global Flyway Ecology (Howison, Piersma, Rakhimberdiev, Verkuil)


- master’s degree in a relevant academic field (Statistics, Environmental Sciences, Soil Sciences, Earth Sciences)
- basic to strong programming skills and interest in developing them further (R or Python, GIS, SQL is a bonus)
- experience or interest in environmental statistics
- interest in broader societal and economic implications of research and global environmental change
- highly developed conceptual capacity and analytical skills
- very good record of undergraduate and graduate studies
- very good individual and collaborative working skills
- presenting, planning and organizational skills
- strong motivation to complete a PhD dissertation in four years
- research experience is an asset
- very good command of spoken and written English.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

- a salary of € 2,325 gross per month in the first year to a maximum of € 2,972 gross per month in the final year, based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
- a 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus
- a position for four years; a successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected.

A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty. As part of the programme, the PhD researcher will take part in the Career Perspectives Series, which provides a thorough preparation on the career after the PhD, inside or outside academia. During the course of the doctorate, the PhD researcher will develop research and teaching competencies as well as leadership skills. For this, the PhD researcher will receive a tailor-made programme from the GSCF.

Job Application

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include the following PDF formats:

- a motivation letter of a maximum of two A4 pages
- a recent curriculum vitae
- a copy of your diplomas with a list of course grades
- reference letters from two academic referees
- a research proposal of up to 2000 words, covering state of the art, main research question, key objectives, and relevance, the proposed (methodological) approach, a brief description of the relevant literature and a provisional timetable and a writing sample of no more than 5000 words, e.g. an essay or part of a master’s thesis.

You can submit your application in English until 30 January 11:59pm / before 31 January 2020 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Interviews will be scheduled in March 2020. Candidates may be asked to give a presentation.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Dr J.A. Beaulieu, Supervisor of the project

Dr T.S. van der Voort, Supervisor of the project

Dr Joop Houtman, Coordinator of the Graduate School Campus Fryslân

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 219620

Digital application form