Assistant Professor in Aquatic Ecotoxicology and Water Quality

University of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Faculty/Services:  Faculty of Science

Educational level:  PhD

Function type:  Academic Staff

Closing date:  3 februari 2023

Vacancy number:  10914

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) at the University of Amsterdam is opening up several new positions to collaboratively further strengthen the research within the institute.

The research is carried out as a collaboration between the four research departments at IBED:

  1. Ecosystem and Landscape Dynamics (ELD)
  2. Evolutionary and Population Biology (EPB)
  3. Freshwater and Marine Ecology (FAME)
  4. Theoretical and Computational Ecology (TCE)

For one of the positions, embedded in the FAME department, we are looking for a new

Assistant Professor in Aquatic Ecotoxicology and Water Quality (0.8 – 1.0 FTE) focusing on the ecological impact of pollutants on aquatic organisms and/or the environmental fate and distribution of pollutants in aquatic environments.

We wish to appoint a promising candidate with a strong background in aquatic ecotoxicology and water quality, a keen interest to connect fundamental research with environmental challenges in water quality management, and excellent educational skills. 

If this matches with your scientific profile and if you are interested in working in an inter-disciplinary institute focused on biology, earth sciences, ecology, physical geography and environmental chemistry that has well-equipped lab and computational facilities, then we would welcome your application!

Profile Assistant Professor Aquatic Ecotoxicology & Water Quality

Aquatic ecosystems cover 70% of our planet and teem with organisms, ranging from tiny bacteria and plankton to corals, fish and whales. Unfortunately, aquatic ecosystems are also severely impacted by much of society’s waste and many of our surface waters suffer from human impacts. Pesticides, herbicides and excessive nutrients run off from agricultural fields into ditches and streams; plastics, biocides, illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals from urban areas slowly enter our rivers and canals; harmful algal blooms, pathogens and anoxia spread across eutrophied coastal waters; the water temperatures of our lakes and seas break new records every year. Our global water cycle is strongly impacted by anthropogenic pressures, with resulting risks for biodiversity and society. Coping with these threats requires improved understanding of the impacts and potential interactive effects of a wide range of contaminants on aquatic ecosystems. Via better understanding, we aim to support sustainable management of freshwater and marine ecosystems at local and global scales. We therefore need a new generation of scientists, who study these contaminants, how they are distributed across aquatic ecosystems, how they affect aquatic organisms, and how their effects are modified by other anthropogenic pressures such as global warming, ocean acidification, salinization and habitat degradation.

Introduction to the Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology

The research will be embedded in the Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology.

However, it is anticipated that the successful candidate would have the potential to develop linkages to other departments within IBED and elsewhere in the university.

Research in the Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology (FAME) aims to unravel how aquatic ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. The focus lies on the interactions between aquatic organisms and their abiotic environment, including the roles of different organisms in primary production, biogeochemical cycles and water quality, and the temporal and spatial dynamics that emerge from these interactions. The department of Freshwater & Marine Ecology investigates rivers, lakes and oceans from different perspectives, with a specific interest in biological and chemical water quality and in species that play a key role in primary production and biogeochemical cycles. With an improved scientific understanding, we aim to support the sustainable management of freshwater and marine ecosystems at local and global scales.

Research in our department spans five research fields:

  1. Aquatic environmental chemistry & ecotoxicology,
  2. Benthic ecology,
  3. Microbial ecology,
  4. Plankton ecology & evolution, and
  5. Coral reef ecology.

Our approach includes detailed molecular studies, advanced laboratory experiments, dedicated field studies, and the development of new mathematical models. We have extensive analytical facilities for chemical analyses, culture facilities for bacteria, phytoplankton and aquatic invertebrates, and a fully equiped research vessel for lake research. Furthermore, we frequently join oceanographic cruises through the Dutch National Marine Facilities and have a long-standing collaboration with the Caribbean research institute CARMABI for coral reef research.

Research profile (~50% of the time)

We are looking for a scientist at the level of Assistant Professor, with a PhD degree and several years of research experience after the PhD. The position is a tenure track position. The candidate is expected to develop an own research line and to contribute to collaborative research within the institute and with (inter)national partners. We aim to attract candidates capable of innovative research advancing the field of aquatic ecotoxicology and multistress impacts on aquatic ecosystems, e.g. by new techniques, new conceptual insights, and new computational approaches.

The ideal candidate merges ecology and ecotoxicology in multistressed waterbodies, in close collaboration with aquatic ecologists, environmental chemists and toxicologists. In view of the mission of our institute, we are especially interested in candidates who combine toxicological expertise with a solid understanding of the functioning of aquatic ecosystems, to study environmental impacts at the population, community and ecosystem level. In recent years, our research focused on micro- and nanoplastics, persistent and mobile pollutants such as PFAS, pharmaceuticals and pesticides, and the proliferation of harmful algal blooms. We also welcome investigation of other aquatic pollutants (e.g., heavy metals, oil spills), or studies that look into physiological acclimation, evolutionary adaptation and species sorting in response to environmental contaminants. Potential questions to be answered are: To what extent do existing and newly emerging contaminants contribute to observed declines in ecological water quality? How do impacts of contaminants on aquatic ecosystems interact with other pressures such as global warming or salinization? How do contaminants affect aquatic biodiversity, food webs and ecosystem functioning? Furthermore, the candidate may contribute to the development of new ecological monitoring approaches and water quality assessment strategies. The research may encompass both freshwater and marine environments, and the approach is expected to include both laboratory analysis and fieldwork.

Key research responsibilities include:

  • Conduct and develop high-quality research within the area of academic specialisation resulting in publications in leading academic journals.
  • Engage in and foster collaboration within the IBED, the UvA, and elsewhere in the Netherlands and abroad.
  • Collaborate with colleagues in the department in the fields of ecotoxicology, environmental chemistry, aquatic ecology and marine biology
  • Develop collaborations with other colleagues from the institute and build a broader national and international network.
  • Supervise research of PhD candidates and postdocs.
  • Acquire funding through national and international research grants, governmental or private sectors.
  • Contribute to scientific outreach through diverse media channels, public events or engagement with stakeholders outside academia.


On average, IBED staff contribute ~40% of their time to education, including lecturing and supervising of BSc and MSc students in one or more of the core programs we are involved in: BSc Biological Sciences, BSc Future Planet Studies, MSc Biological Sciences, MSc Earth Sciences. We are searching for educational expertise in ecotoxicology, water quality, aquatic ecology and environmental chemistry. There is a variety of courses to contribute to, but the main focus will be on BSc courses in Ecotoxicology, Environmental Chemistry and a new MSc course to be developed on Ecotoxicology & Water Quality. Depending on the expertise there are also possibilities for contributions to other educational programs in FNWI. Furthermore, the candidate is expected to supervise internships of individual BSc and MSc students.

Staff members are also expected to contribute approximately 10% of the time to organisational tasks at the institute or faculty level, such as involvement in the organization of laboratory facilities or educational programs (e.g. serve as committee member or in examination boards).


  • PhD in a relevant research field (e.g., ecotoxicology, water quality management, aquatic ecology, environmental chemistry)
  • Excellent laboratory skills, with extensive knowledge of analytical techniques in ecotoxicology and water quality analysis
  • Firm background in aquatic and/or marine ecology, and experience with culturing of aquatic test organisms
  • Proven knowledge of statistical techniques and/or computational models in ecotoxicology
  • Capacity to lead independent research shown through peer-reviewed publications
  • Potential to acquire research funding
  • Experience in teaching, preferably in the field of aquatic ecotoxicology and/or water quality
  • Experience supervising BSc and MSc students
  • Fluency in English and in Dutch; or ability to learn Dutch to a level appropriate for communication within the institute and education program.


  • Familiarity with funding mechanisms in the Netherlands
  • Knowledge of European Water Framework Directive
  • Experience with public outreach and societal engagement
  • Experience supervising PhD candidates

Our offer

A temporary contract for 30-38 hours a week, preferably starting early in 2023 for the duration of 18 months. The position will be permanent, subject to a positive evaluation of your performance during this initial 18-month temporary appointment.

The position will be at the Assistant Professor (Universitair Docent) level.

Your salary, depending on your relevant experience on commencement of the employment contract, ranges between €3.974 to €5.439 gross per month on the basis of a full working week of 38 hours. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8.3% year-end allowance. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

Career perspectives & support

IBED offers opportunities for further career development, from Assistant to Associate Professor and from Associate Professor to Full Professor. The position is accompanied by a start-up package.

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Together, we create a vibrant, challenging and well-equipped research environment at Amsterdam Science Park. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the systems underlying biological processes. 

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. The research at IBED aims to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. At its core lies an integrated systems approach to study biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment. IBED adopts this systems approach to ecosystems, addressing abiotic and biotic factors, and the interplay between those. The IBED vision includes research encompassing experimental and theoretical approaches at a wide variety of temporal and spatial scales, i.e. from molecules and microorganisms to patterns and processes occurring at the global scale. The University of Amsterdam has excellent high performance computing facilities. Furthermore, IBED has a dedicated computational support team with specialized knowledge of bioinformatics, (geo)database management and scientific programming. IBED also works with non-academic partners to deliver transdisciplinary science for society.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:  Prof. dr. Jef Huisman (, Head of the Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology. 

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application, including a motivation letter and, in one PDF: a CV, a short teaching statement (<750 words), a short research statement (<750 words), and a list of publications. 

The interview will include an example lecture (30-minutes) given to a general audience, including students, and a panel interview. At the start of the panel interview you will be asked to give a 10-minute presentation outlining your key scientific interests and your fit to IBED and FAME. 

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

No agencies please





IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development