PhD Position: “Wave Flume Studies On The Stability Of Constructed Living Dikes”

University of Twente

Twente, Netherlands 🇳🇱


One of the urgent challenges of our time is to prepare for the inevitable effects of global climate change. In densely populated deltas around the globe, hard structures such as dikes covered with asphalt are commonly used as coastal protection measure. Such structures are static and will not withstand the rising sea levels and increased storminess. In the Netherlands alone, it would cost billions of Euros to heighten these dikes in the coming years. Instead, soft solutions – coastal wetlands – could be placed in front of the dikes and the asphalt could be replaced with grass. Such systems are climate-adaptive as they capture sediments and grow with rising sea level and resilient as they buffer coast against storms by reducing wave-loading. Within the NWO funded research project “Living Dikes”, we aim to develop the know-how and the design tools for realising these living dikes.

In this PhD project, which is embedded in Living Dikes, you will focus on the erosion and stability of living dikes under extreme storms. First, tests will be performed in the TUDelft wave flume (1 m deep, 40 m long) to obtain crucial knowledge on wave damping, pressures, bed shear stresses and run-up on scaled living dikes. The vegetation will be modelled with individual plastic plants made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE). The results will help to design the layout of the Delta Flume experiment. For this Delta Flume experiment, we will grow and transplant wetland and dike vegetation into large basins to mimic a range of field conditions. Vegetation and soil from various locations will be transplanted into the Delta Flume (300 m long, 5 m wide and 9 m high) to create a natural wetland and transition area between wetland and dike. This wetland will be tested under extreme conditions (storms occurring once every 10,000 years). These will be the first tests that specifically address living-dike stability under such extreme environmental conditions. We aim to test man-made living dikes with contrasting characteristics (i.e. soil mixture, vegetation type, presence/absence of wave-breakers). This will yield a clear understanding of the main failure mechanisms that affect the stability of the living dike. Moreover, a comprehensive dataset will result on the basis of which models can be developed to assess the reliability of living dikes impacted by severe storms.

The Living Dikes project is a collaboration between the Marine and Fluvial Systems (MFS) group at the Department of Civil Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering Technology, the Faculty of Technology, Policy & Management at TU Delft, the Faculty of Civil Engineering at TU Delft, and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). In this PhD-project you will be supervised by a team from the University of Twente, with close collaboration with the involved partners.


We are looking for a talented, enthusiastic researcher with an active attitude and broad interests covering coastal dynamics, modelling, biogeomorphological interaction, hydraulic engineering and an affinity with flume experiments. Your MSc is in Civil Engineering, Geosciences (e.g. Physical Geography or Geophysics), Environmental studies or a related field. We consider it important that the candidate is able to view his/her research from a broader perspective (within Living Dikes project, the scientific world and towards the practical application) and that he/she is willing and able to collaborate closely with other researchers in the project and involved users in the team. Therefore, we welcome entrepreneurial candidates with an open mind, strong communicative skills and excellent comprehension of English, in both spoken language and writing (IELTS >= 6.5 or equivalent). Some of the desired skills can be acquired during an individual training program of 840 hours that is part of the PhD project.


  • A challenging position in an inspiring multidisciplinary and international environment.
  • Four year full-time PhD position, with a qualifier in 6-9 months.
  • Full status as an employee at the UT, including pension and health care benefits.
  • Tailor-made educational program of at least 6 months (30EC), including visits to conferences.
  • A starting salary of €2.434,- gross per month in the first year and a salary of €3.111,-  in the fourth year gross per month.
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.
  • You have to be willing to move to (the vicinity of) Enschede. A relocation allowance or temporary housing allowance may be part of the offer.
  • Minimum of 29 holidays per year in case of fulltime employment.


Please upload your application before January 15 2022 via the ‘Apply now’ button. Your application should include:

  • a cover letter (emphasizing your specific interest, motivation and qualifications).
  • a detailed CV.
  • an academic transcript of B.Sc. and M.Sc. education with grades obtained, a publication list (if applicable).
  • contact details of 2 referees.

The selection procedure will stop and the project will start as soon as possible after a suitable candidate is found. An interview will be part of the selection procedure; interviews are planned end of January/ early February 2022.

For more information about the position, you may contact Bas Borsje ([email protected], +31 53 489 1094), Jebbe van der Werf ([email protected] , +31 53 489 1651) or Prof.dr. Suzanne Hulscher ([email protected], +31 53 489 3546).


The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) engages in education and research Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering with a view to enabling society and industry to innovate and create value using sound, efficient and sustainable technology. We are part of a ‘people-first’ university of technology, taking our place as an internationally leading centre for smart production, processes and devices in five domains: Health Technology, Maintenance, Smart Regions, Smart Industry and Sustainable Resources. Our faculty is home to some 1,800 Bachelor’s and Master’s students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates and offers three degree programmes: Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our educational and research programme are closely connected with UT research institutes Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

University of Twente (UT)

University of Twente (UT) has entered the new decade with an ambitious, new vision, mission and strategy. As ‘the ultimate people-first university of technology’ we are rapidly expanding on our High Tech Human Touch philosophy and the unique role it affords us in society. Everything we do is aimed at maximum impact on people, society and connections through the sustainable utilisation of science and technology. We want to contribute to the development of a fair, digital and sustainable society through our open, inclusive and entrepreneurial attitude. This attitude permeates everything we do and is present in every one of UT’s departments and faculties. Building on our rich legacy in merging technical and social sciences, we focus on five distinguishing research domains: Improving healthcare by personalised technologies; Creating intelligent manufacturing systems; Shaping our world with smart materials; Engineering our digital society; and Engineering for a resilient world.

As an employer, University of Twente offers jobs that matter. We equip you as a staff member to shape new opportunities both for yourself and for our society. With us, you will be part of a leading tech university that is changing our world for the better. We offer an open, inclusive and entrepreneurial climate, in which we encourage you to make healthy choices, for example, with our flexible, customisable conditions.