PhD position: Integrated Modelling for Climate-Resilient Food and Water Systems

Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Your job

Are you enthusiastic about contributing to an interdisciplinary PhD research project that explores the interactions between food production, water pollution and water scarcity under changing climate? Do you have a strong interest in developing and applying integrated modelling approaches to explore solutions for achieving sustainable food and water management? If so, an exciting job opportunity is waiting for you!

The Environmental Systems Analysis Group and Water Systems and Global Change group, Wageningen University, are looking for a motivated PhD candidate to join an interdisciplinary research project focused on “Integrated Modelling for Resilient Food and Water Systems under Climate Change”. This project aims to address the limited understanding of the quantitative interactions between food production, nutrient pollution, water scarcity as affected by climate and socio-economic changes. This project also aims to explore sustainable management practices for a food and water-secure future. You should have an interest in integrated modeling that combines models from disciplines (crop, hydrology and water quality) and in working with large datasets and numerical models.

As part of this project, you will be involved in the following key objectives:

  • Assess future global food and water security under climate and socio-economic changes: You will develop a novel, spatially explicit water and food (crop growth) model system that assesses food production, as well as water (nutrient) pollution and water scarcity, on a global scale. This will be done by improving the modeling of underlying processes related to crop-nutrient-water interactions in the models we currently use in our groups (namely WOFOST, VIC). You will implement the newly developed model to analyze trends and spatial distribution of future hotspots (i.e., river basins) with food and water security challenges under climate change.
  • Quantify interactions between food and water management: Using the developed model system, you will also quantify the complex interactions between food and water management. More specifically, you will quantity the impacts (in terms of trade-offs and co-benefits) of crop, nutrient and water management practices on food production, water pollution, water scarcity.
  • Explore solutions for sustainable food and water management: Using the developed integrated model system, and the insights into the quantitative trade-offs and co-benefits from above, you will explore effective management practices that simultaneously address water and food security challenges. This will be done through participatory scenario analysis – co-developing scenarios with selected stakeholders (available contact through other projects from our groups). Selected hotspots – river basins facing water and food security issues will serve as case studies to ensure practical applicability.

The novelty of this project lies in its quantitative approach to understanding the interactions between water and food management. By combining previously unlinked water and food models, this research project aims to provide holistic insights into the complex relationship between water and food and support sustainable water and food management.

Your qualities

The ideal candidate must have the following qualities:

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team;
  • Good organizational and communication skills;
  • Basic knowledge of crop growth and its interactions with water and nutrients;
  • Ability to publish research results in peer-reviewed academic journals.

You must also possess:

  • A successfully completed MSc degree in environmental sciences or climate studies;
  • Proven skills with quantitative modelling and data analysis (e.g. Python, R or C);
  • Proven knowledge and skills regarding research design, quantitative, qualitative and/or spatial-temporal methods for data collection, and quantitative (statistical) and/or qualitative approaches to data analysis and presentation;
  • Enthusiasm for collaborating with an interdisciplinary team of researchers with diverse backgrounds and disciplines;
  • Interest in stakeholder interaction;
  • The entry requirements of the WUR PhD program;
  • Enthusiasm to do a PhD project at Wageningen University;
  • Excellent communication skills in English.

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognized Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.

Your duties and responsibilities in this role will include:

  • Conducting research and analysis within the framework of the project;
  • Contributing to the development of the water and food model system;
  • Publishing research results in peer-reviewed journals;
  • Write a doctoral thesis based on the research findings.

We offer you

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

  • Partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / 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 € 2.770 – per month rising to € 3.539,-  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 for the duration of the project if you perform well.

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 18th 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, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.
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. For instance under the “30% rule”, certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.

Do you want more information?

For more information about this position, please contact Mengru Wang, Assistant Professor, by, or Spyros Paparrizos, Assistant Professor , by email:
For more information about the procedure, please contact Noorien Abbas, Corporate Recruiter, by email: ,

Do you want to apply?
To apply, please send the following in a single document (max. 3 pages), combining:

  • a complete and up-to-date curriculum vitae;
  • a motivation letter.

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 16 October 2023. We hope to schedule the first job interviews  soon after the closing date

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. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & 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, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.. 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

You will work here
This research position is embedded within the Environmental Systems Analysis Group and Water Systems and Global Change group, led by prof.dr. Carolien Kroeze and prof.dr. Fulco Ludwig. You will be co-supervised by dr. Mengru Wang and dr. Spyros Paparrizos, who will provide guidance and support throughout the project.





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