PhD: Effects of Nature-based SaltiSolutions on Estuarine Ecosystem Engineering

University of Twente
Enschede, Netherlands
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.

Job description

Sea level rise, drought, subsidence, and dredging of waterways can exacerbate the intrusion of seawater in deltas and estuaries, affecting fresh water availability and nature. Within the large NWO-funded research programme SALTISolutions, we aim to gain insight in the mechanisms of salt water intrusion, and to investigate potential measures to mitigate the effects of salinity intrusion, including nature-based solutions.

In this PhD project, which will be an integral part of SALTISolutions, you will study the potential effects of such nature-based solutions on other estuarine services, such as habitat provision (and biodiversity) and safety from flooding, on top of the ability of these measures to mitigate salinity intrusion. The focus is on so-called “ecosystem engineering species” i.e., organisms, such as wetland plants and bivalves, that modify their abiotic environment via their physical structures or activity. You will study the effects of nature-based salinity intrusion measures on the estuarine scale, via  the interplay between salinity, hydrodynamics, sediment transport, morphodynamics and ecosystem engineering activity. The main focus will be on contrasting traits of ecosystem engineering species (e.g. dense versus sparse vegetation and smooth versus rough shellfish reefs). You will adopt a combination of numerical hydrodynamic modelling, satellite remote sensing, statistical modelling and available data from field surveys. You will present the results at conferences and write your findings in journal papers and a PhD thesis.

The PhD-project is a collaboration between the Marine and Fluvial Systems (MFS) group at the Department of Civil Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering Technology, and the Department of Water Resources (WRS) of the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) of the University of Twente. You will be supervised by a joint team from these two groups.

Your profile

  • MSc in Civil Engineering and/or Earth Observation or an equivalent programme
  • Experience with quantitative satellite remote sensing/earth observation and image processing and/or experience with numerical flow models (e.g. Delft3D or equivalent)
  • Proficiency in data analysis, mathematical/numerical/programming skills and statistical modelling (e.g. in Matlab, Python, R)
  • Knowledge of coastal/estuarine systems
  • Good organizational skills, enthusiastic, independent and problem-solving attitude
  • Willing to contribute to UT’s teaching program and to supervise graduate students
  • Excellent communication/writing skills, and keen to interact with users and fellow PhD-students and postdocs
  • Good command of the English language ( IELTS >= 6.5 or equivalent).

Our offer

  • 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
  • The salary ranges from EUR 2.395,- per month (1st year) to EUR 3.061,- (4th year), plus holiday allowance (8%) and end-of-year bonus (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.

Information and application

For more information about the position, you may contact dr. ir. Bas Borsje ( , +31 53 489 1094), prof. dr. Daphne van der Wal ( , +31 53 489 7892) or prof. dr. Suzanne Hulscher ( , +31 53 489 4256).

Please upload your application before 20 November 2020 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) and 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 (online) interview will be part of the selection procedure; interviews are planned on either 11 or 17 December 2020.

More information on the MFS group (Faculty Engineering Technology) is available at:, with general information on the PhD programme available from: More information on the Department of Water Resources (Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation) is available through:

About the department

This is a co-operation between the departments Marine and Fluvial Systems and Water Resources.

The chair group “Marine and Fluvial Systems” is part of the Twente Water Centre. Our mission is to do research and provide education in the areas of water systems and management. The aim is to increase our understanding of the natural processes in water systems and the socio-economic processes that affect these systems, and to develop tools that can effectively be used to support the management of rivers, river basins, seas and coastal zones.

The department of Water Resources is a multidisciplinary scientific department specialising in scientific research and education in earth observation and geo-information sciences for the understanding, monitoring, predicting and sustainable use and management of water resources.

About the organization

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.