PhD Position Marine Litter Transport in the Coastal Zone

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Job description

Plastic marine litter is found in almost all marine habitats, especially along the world’s coastlines. Coastal ecosystems can be particularly sensitive to plastic pollution, and the economic value of beaches can be significantly diminished by marine pollution. A significant amount of floating plastic marine litter, which has entered the ocean since the 1950s, is unaccounted for in estimates of quantities found floating on the surface of the deep ocean. This ‘missing plastic’ is potentially distributed along the world’s coastlines.

This PhD project will investigate the role of coastal zones in trapping or releasing floating plastic marine litter. To do so, it will investigate the role of surface waves and the circulation these drive in transporting floating marine litter to and from the coast. In particular, the project will examine the role of the Earth’s rotation in determining wave-driven coastal circulation and its implications for transport.

The project will take a two-pronged approach based on mathematical modelling on the one hand and laboratory experiments on the other hand. The candidate will develop a simplified mathematical model for wave-driven transport in the coastal zone in the presence of Coriolis forces. The candidate will also contribute to the development of the new (1m euro) Delta Processes Laboratory at TU Delft and carry out experiments in the existing Fluids and Flows Laboratory at TU Eindhoven. The project offers the freedom to tailor its focus and the balance between its two components to the candidate’s abilities and preference.

The PhD candidate will be part of the Environmental Fluid Mechanics section in the Hydraulic Engineering Department at TU Delft (TUD). The project is based on a collaboration with the Fluids and Flows group in the Department of Applied Physics at TU Eindhoven (TUE), and the candidate is expected to visit TUE regularly during the PhD programme. The PhD candidate will be supervised by Dr. Ton van den Bremer (TUD) and Dr. Matias Duran Matute (TUE).


To be a good candidate for this PhD position, you have:

  • A master’s degree in Civil Engineering, Physics, Applied Mathematics, or a related subject with excellent results.
  • Knowledge of fluid mechanics, mathematical modelling (e.g., partial differential equations) and ocean waves and/or physical oceanography (the latter is ideal, but not essential).
  • Good programming skills (Python, Matlab) or willingness to improve such skills.
  • Experience or familiarity with laboratory techniques in fluid mechanics are an advantage, but not essential.
  • Outstanding analytical skills.
  • Self-motivated, autonomous, curiosity-driven, open to communicate and collaborate with others in a multi-disciplinary and culturally diverse team.

During the PhD trajectory English is very important. So if your mother language is not English and you do not hold a degree from an institution in which English is the language of instruction, you must submit proof of English proficiency from either TOEFL (minimum total score of 100) or IELTS (minimum total score of 7.0). Proof of English language proficiency certificates older than two years are not accepted. 

Conditions of employment

TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2434 per month in the first year to € 3111 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 

Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals and supports its scientists in integrating Open Science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr, Ton van den Bremer, [email protected]

For information about the application procedure, please contact Petra Jorritsma: [email protected].

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before December 23th 2021 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated. 





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development