PhD position on assessing economic impacts of changes in rainfall due to deforestation in Brazil

Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen, Netherlands 🇳🇱

We are looking for

Are you proficient in Portuguese and do you have a solid understanding of the agrobusiness sector in Brazil? And do you like to analyze the economic impacts of changes in rainfall due to deforestation in Brazil? Then this could be the ideal PhD position for you!

This PhD project builds upon earlier work that was conducted in the Environmental Systems Analysis Group and that has led to a AI-based model that allows analyzing how deforestation (past, and future scenarios) affect rainfall patterns across Brazil. The model allows simulating daily rainfall patterns, and provides insights in how deforestation changes rainfall magnitude and seasonality of rainfall. In this continuation project, we want to understand the economic impacts of these changes, i.e. how do the changes in rainfall patterns that are caused by deforestation affect crop production? We will zoom in on the most important crops grown in Brazil, potentially soybean, coffee, sugarcane and/or oranges.

The project is implemented in collaboration with a senior researcher from the Federal University Sao Carlos, Sao Paulo State, Brazil. The PhD project will result in a PhD dissertation comprising four individual chapters that have been submitted or published as scientific article. The chapters will involve: (i) analyzing the impact of past deforestation on Brazil’s rainfall patterns and subsequent impacts on agricultural production; (ii) a scenario analysis to assess impacts of rainfall reduction on farm systems in the next decades; (iii) assessing future impacts on crop yields and subsequent economic damages; and (iv) assess business and policy implications of the findings. The PhD will combine modelling and economic analysis, and has a specific focus on understanding the agrobusiness implications of environmental change.

The position is scheduled to commence in September 2021

We ask

  • Excellent knowledge of Portuguese;
  • A completed Master’s degree / MBA (before starting the PhD) in a relevant field;
  • Proven understanding of the agrobusiness sector in Brazil;
  • Specific knowledge of soybean, coffee, sugarcane and/or orange production in Brazil;
  • Affinity with modelling and/or economic analyses;
  • A clear interest in inter- or trans disciplinary collaborative research;
  • Excellent skills in stakeholder interaction;
  • Excellent skills in writing;
  • Relevant fieldwork experience would be considered an advantage;
  • A network among Brazilian agrobusinesses is considered as an advantage

We offer

WUR offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and 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 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 € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- 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 16th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
We are 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. 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 issues.

Equal opportunities
WUR employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who encourage 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.

More information

For more information about this position, please contact: Prof. Dr Lars Hein (ESA) ([email protected]).

For questions about the procedure, please contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter, [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. You need to upload two documents (in English) and strictly follow the guidelines below.

  1. A Cover letter (approx. 500 words) detailing in a single document your research interests, qualifications and motivation
  2. A Curriculum Vitae (CV) and attached to that in the same Pdf document: Academic transcript(s): Final and current degree transcripts including grades and degree certificates – scanned copy in colour of the original document/s. And Degree Certificate(s) – scanned copy in colour of the original document/s

This vacancy will be listed up to and including June 11th 2021. We hope to schedule the first job interviews soon afterwards.

We are

Wageningen University & Research 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, 6.500 employees and 12.500 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.

Environmental systems analysis (ESA) studies environmental problems by exploring, modelling and communicating their causes, mechanisms, effects and potential solutions. ESA combines quantitative, qualitative and multi- and transdisciplinary research and integrates knowledge from natural, social and engineering sciences. To learn more about the Environmental System Analysis (ESA) chair group at Wageningen University take a look at our page


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