PhD in Modelling and Optimisation of spatio-temporal patterns of flows in the urban Food-Water-Energy nexus

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, , NL

Faculty Civil Engineering and Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) provides leading international research and education, with innovation and sustainability as central themes. Research and education are closely interwoven and address societal challenges. The Faculty consists of 28 sections divided over 7 departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering , Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Watermanagement.

The mission of the Water Management Department is formulated as “Performing innovative research and (advanced) education in societal relevant themes related to the hydrological and urban water cycle.” Aspects of the research are into understanding water availability and water use, as well as water quality, treatment and transport. This includes decision-making in water-related issues such as flood control, drought mitigation, water quality management and ecosystem management.

The Water Resources Section has an outstanding international research reputation and is very well embedded in both the national and international research community and networks such as IAHS, AGU and EGU. A significant part of the research is done in strong collaboration with national and international research institutes and industry partners. The Section is an international working environment with many expert staff members at the forefront of their research in water resources and hydrology. The large number of PhD students provides and excellent community of peers.     

Job description

Developing sustainable future cities depends on the opportunities to optimally integrate and mobilize food, water and energy resources in a synergistic way to reduce water, carbon, and ecological footprints, and increase the community resilience against challenges exacerbated by climate change, population growth, and resources depletion. This project aims to generate actionable information by analysing the distributed production and storage of materials and energy flows into, out of, and within a community/city given their consumption patterns and supply chains associated with various food-water-energy (FWE) nexuses.

The objectives of the PhD will be to model and study the spatio-temporal patterns in the flow of materials and energy, and how the integration of different FWE technologies impacts the city’s sustainable growth. With Dutch cities (eg. Amsterdam) as a case study, we will explore the emergence of urban metabolic models from data of resource use over many years, and explore future strategic change under different demographic, socio-economic, climate change scenarios.  

This PhD is part of ENLARGE (, a €1,5 million project funded through the Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative (SUGI)/Food-Water-Energy Nexus call jointly established by the Belmont Forum and the Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe.     


We are looking for highly talented and driven candidates, who

  • have a relevant MSc degree in Systems Engineering, Operations Research, Computer Science, Urban Planning or a related Applied Sciences field (such as Agricultural Science or Management Science)

  • have an analytical and quantitative approach toward problem solving and proficient in a programming language (eg. Matlab, Python)

  • have a proven background and interest in mathematical modelling and data analytics skills or be willing to invest in developing expertise in these research techniques;

  • are interested in decision support tools,

  • knowledge about urban infrastructure (eg. water supply, energy supply, etc.), industrial ecology or sustainability concepts is a plus. Experience in data processing and visualization is also an advantage.

  • have excellent writing skills, as evidenced by a writing sample, such as a chapter from your Master’s Thesis or a (forthcoming or published) article or presented conference paper. 

  • you should be fluent in English as you will participate in an international research team and will publish internationally. 

Conditions of employment

TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.

Information and application

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Edo Abraham, assistant professor, e-mail: [email protected].

To apply, please e-mail a detailed CV, proof of English language proficiency, abstract of your MSc thesis (1 page), a 1 page motivation about your ideas of an approach and methodology to optimize food-water-energy resources, to [email protected] (mention vacancy number CiTG18.20). This should be done by 21st of May 2018. Please make sure to include in your document examples of projects in which you successfully demonstrate your mathematical modelling and technical and analytical skills.