PhD within AquaConnect

Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen, Netherlands 🇳🇱

We are looking for

AquaConnect is a NWO-funded research program with 13 PhD’s and 4 Post Docs supported by about 40 stakeholders that aims to develop innovative solutions for making water supply resilient against future droughts. AquaConnect offers you the opportunity to do a PhD on smart water-grids, to work with others and to add value to the program.

The Dutch delta faces enormous challenges in fresh water provision for industry, agriculture, nature and drinking water during increasingly frequent severe droughts due to climate change. This requires a major overhaul towards a water system that stores precipitation surplus instead of discharging it to the sea and towards use of alternative water sources, such as waste water treatment plant effluents, rain water collected from residential areas and brackish water. AquaConnect is instrumental in this transition by developing: i) chemical technologies enabling use of domestic/industrial effluents and brackish (ground)water, ii) digital technologies to design smart grid infrastructures to connect supply, demand, and nature based storage, iii) tools to manage related societal changes, and iv) demonstrations in four utilisation cases and international twinning.

AquaConnect scientific research will be performed in the following workpackages:

  • Digital technologies to identify new groundwater resources and determine the impact of its extraction.
  • Risk-assessment of cyclic water systems that include nature-based treatment and storage
  • Chemical and physical technologies for fit-for-purpose water, brine and sludge supply
  • Freshwater provision governance
  • The digital smart water-grid    

The scientific research in all workpackages will be performed in close collaboration with a work-package focussed on application of the scientific results in four demonstration areas in the Netherlands. As a PhD-candidate in AquaConnect, you will be expected to intensively cooperate with other (PhD) researchers and end-users from various companies to translate your scientific results into tangible pilot-application and demonstration in these Dutch demonstration areas.

As a PhD researcher, you will be part of a wide and dynamic consortium with a big social and environmental impact. Within the ‘digital smart water-grid’ work package at Wageningen University and Research and under the daily supervision of Assistant Professor Dr. Shahab Shariat Torbaghan and Dr. Joeri Wilet, you are expected to:

  • dvelop a concrete project proposal based on the requirements of the AquaConnect deliverables;
  • investigate and classify the different uncertainties and risks associated future water supply as a consequence of climate change.
  • develop a data-driven decision making framework for investigating long-term planning investment and/or short-run operational scheduling problem considering water supply networks under that operates under uncertain conditions using a sequential decision making method including stochastic optimization, (deep) reinforcement learning.
  • communicate the practical implications of this research to AquaConnect stakeholders and the general public;
  • publish the research results in high quality international journals and conferences.

We ask

  • interested in the future of water network planning, management and operation?
  • have competences in one or more of these categories: statistical machine learning, applied mathematics, computer science, operations research or another relevant field with a focus on data-driven decision making under uncertainty including stochastic optimization, (deep) reinforcement learning etc.;
  • have a record and interest in further developing your modelling, programming, analytical and scientific writing skills;
  • programming experience in PythonJulia or Matlab;
  • have an ambition and affinity with teaching and guiding students;
  • a successfully completed relevant MSc degree. An internationally recognized two year master program taught in English and including a thesis research of 36 ECTS is highly preferred in applied mathematics, operations research, computer science;
  • You are a team player. Working together is essential for the success of this program;
  • excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). Preferably with proven test-results available. For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.

Candidates with other MSc degrees may need to conduct qualifying exams, successful language proficiency tests (TOEFL, or similar), and other extra requirements before being admitted to the project and the PhD programs of the participating Universities. AquaConnect is a part of “sectorplan beta en techniek” program. A goal of the program is to encourage gender equality in the working environment. As such, a female candidate will be given a higher priority.

We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our  Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • the option to accrue additional 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 € 2.443,- per month rising to € 3.122,- 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 up to 4 years or for the duration of the project if you perform wellWageningen 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 16th 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 University and Research, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. 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, and other questions

More information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Shahab Shariat Torbaghan, Assistant professor by email: [email protected].
For more information about the procedure, please contact Rutger Voorrips, Recruiter by phone +31 317 480 571 or by e-mail: [email protected].

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 7th of April 2022. 

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. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

The mission of Wageningen University and 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, 6.800 employees and 12.900 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

These are the points our employees list as good reasons to come work at WUR: read the 5 reasons to come work at WUR.

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


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DEGREE REQUIRED