"Early Stage Researcher (PhD Student) position on ‘Socio-economic evaluation of the impacts of chemicals on natural capital and ecosystem services’"

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Amsterdam, , NL

Job description

The PhD position is in the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), and within the framework of the Marie Skłodowska -Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN) project ‘Best chemical risk assessment professionals for maximum Ecosystem Services benefit (PRORISK)’. 
The PhD candidate will be employed by and enrolled in the doctoral programme at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands. International collaboration is foreseen, in particular with partners in the Czech Republic and the University of Waterloo, Canada.
PRORISK (www.prorisk-itn.eu) is a European Training Network funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 859891. The consortium comprises of 18 universities, research institutions, enterprises and partner organisations in 9 European countries and Canada, creating a novel platform for training a network of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in the field of advanced Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA). Research and training are provided through PhD programmes. The PRORISK training programme and secondments in international, interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral teams in academia, industry and regulatory bodies will enable ESRs to address exposure, ecotoxicology, ecosystem services, as well as assessment and modelling of risks and their socio-economic impacts. The ESRs within PRORISK will gain professional skills allowing them to develop and implement innovative ERA concepts and tools to link the effects of chemicals at different levels of biological organization to ecosystem services and determine the socio-economic values of related environmental impacts. Each ESR will complete a comprehensive personalized career development programme, with targeted training measures and participate in a range of network events. The ESR will benefit from interdisciplinary cooperation and interaction within the network, providing them with the best preparation for a successful career in either academia or industry.

Your duties
The PhD student, ESR14, will focus on

  • developing novel methods for socio-economic evaluation of chemical effects on the provision of ecosystem services and natural capital
  • quantifying potential economic, social and environmental costs and benefits associated with risk exposure
  • accounting for distributional impacts across different stakeholders in time and space
  • testing the impact of risk communication formats on public perception and valuation of chemicals and ecosystem services

SCA eligibility criteria

  1. At the date of recruitment the applicants for the MSCA fellowship must have no PhD and less than 4 years of full-time equivalent research experience from the award of the degree that entitles them to undertake a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the applicant is to be recruited)
  2. The applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account

These eligibility requirements are non-negotiable and ineligible applicants will not be considered. Eligible applicants can be of any nationality.


  • MSc degree in environmental or resource economics or a related field such as agricultural or health economics
  • interest in interdisciplinary research and risk analysis in particular is an important quality
  • have the ability to work independently and in collaboration with others
  • have strong oral and written communication skills in English

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2709 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €2,972 (PhD) per month during the third year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1.0 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for another 2 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

The period of appointment for the ESR is 36 months, starting 1 October 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,500 students. We employ more than 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.
About the institute
Established in 1971, IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognised for its high quality research output in a range of environmental disciplines, as well as for its interdisciplinary work. The mission of the institute is to contribute to sustainable development and care for the environment through scientific research and teaching. IVM aims to do excellent problem-oriented research that is useful to a wide range of stakeholders in the Netherlands and internationally. A unique strength of our research is to understand sustainability problems in their social and economic context. IVM’s research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Geography; Environmental Policy Analysis; and Water and Climate Risk. Since 2001 IVM has been part of the Faculty of Science at VU Amsterdam (legal name Stichting VU).

About the department
The Department of Environmental Economics (EE) leads the institute’s efforts in improving insights into the interaction between the environment and the economy. The department is one of the main groups of environmental economists in Europe, consisting of around 30 scientific staff and PhD researchers. The department strategy is to consolidate and further strengthen its position as a major player in the European field of environmental economics. Important fields of application include climate change, energy, water, waste, ecosystem services, environmental management and poverty alleviation. The philosophy of EE Department is to closely integrate its research projects with its teaching programme and to initiate and conduct research jointly with stakeholders and collaborating institutes. In the coming years, the EE Department will further explore new research fields related to the economics of climate change and risk management, the circular economy, the economics of ecosystem services, and renewable energy economics. To advance its capacity in these emerging fields, the EE Department offers a tenure-track position in environmental economics.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button. Applicants should provide the following information in their application in English:

  1. cover letter, stating the PhD project you are applying for and detailing your motivation and background for applying for the project. Please indicate if you have applied for other PRORISK PhD fellowships (possible to apply up to three positions; indicate the preferences).
  2. a detailed CV including technical and analytical skills and publications if applicable.
  3. all academic level certificates (BSc and MSc) including university grades itemized by each course. Foreign documents should be sent as certified English translations.
  4. a synopsis (abstract) of the BSc and MSc thesis if applicable, or any previous research project.
  5. at least two professional referees (name, address, telephone and email).

Please upload your applications before 9 April 2020. A review of applications will run continuously as they are received. The short-listed applicants complying with the requirements will be invited for a personal or Skype interview in May or June 2020. When possible please take the dates into account when applying for the position.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
For further information about the scientific content of the PhD position, please contact the principle supervisors: Prof. Roy Brouwer ([email protected]) or Prof. Pieter van Beukering ([email protected]).





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