PhD Position: Biodiversity dynamics in rivers by means of eDNA traces

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Job description

The relevance and urgency to solve river ecosystem degradation issues are recognized worldwide (2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN; 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, EC). A key point is the evaluation of the ecosystem status. Common methods are capable of detecting single species only (e.g., kicknet sampling for mosquitos, electrofishing for fish), and, as such, fail to describe the entire ecosystem. Within the River Engineering group of the Hydraulic Engineering departiment of TU Delft, we are opening a new research line that aims to establish an innovative river ecology assessment method based on environmental DNA (eDNA). Sources of eDNA include secreted feaces, mucous, gametes and shed skin. Samples of sediment and water contain eDNA traces, which have the potential to be the storytellers of the associated ecosystem. The PhD project aims at increasing our understanding of physical mechanisms (i.e. shedding, settling, suspension) that govern transport of eDNA traces along the river network. Foreseen research activities are field monitoring and lab experiments. 


Are you creative, curious and can work across disciplines? Are you interested in river engineering, biodiversity, and sustainability? Do you have a hands-on approach? We are looking for excellent and motivated applicants with a Master degree in Hydraulic Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or a related area of study, who are motivated to carry out internationally leading research adopting a multidisciplinary approach. Experience with monitoring of geophysical flows and/or experimental activity in a hydraulics laboratory will be considered an advantage during the selection phase. In addition, we ask excellent knowledge of English, both verbally and in writing (shown by a TOEFL of 100 and/or IELTS of 7.0 per part). 

Conditions of employment

TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 

Faculty Civil Engineering & Geosciences

The Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences (CEG) is committed to outstanding international research and education in the field of civil engineering, applied earth sciences, traffic and transport, water technology, and delta technology. Our research feeds into our educational programmes and covers societal challenges such as climate change, energy transition, resource depletion, urbanisation and the availability of clean water, conducted  in close cooperation with a wide range of research institutions. CEG is convinced that Open Science helps to achieve our goals and supports its scientists in integrating Open Science in their research practice. The Faculty of CEG comprises 28 research groups in the following seven departments: Materials Mechanics Management & Design, Engineering Structures, Geoscience and Engineering, Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Transport & Planning, Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Civil Engineering & Geosciences.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr Laura Maria Stancanelli, email: [email protected].

For information about the application procedure, please contact Marloes Heemskerk, HR-advisor, email: [email protected].


Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 20 August 2021 via the application button and upload your your application letter and CV. Please also submit a report/publication (written by yourself), and/or your MSc thesis.

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.