PhD A human exposure probabilistic modelling framework for microplastics

Wageningen University


June 8, 2022


Job description

Do you have a background in Toxicology, Biomedical Science, Risk Assessment Science or a related field? Are you fascinated by mathematical (exposure) modelling, microplastic pollution and human health? Are you interested in applied science with relevance for policy development? And do you want to contribute to solving the 'plastic problem'? Then read on, because you might be our ideal candidate!

Aim of this project is to develop a human exposure probabilistic modelling framework for microplastics, and to collect input data for scenario analyses and validation. Main tasks are:

  • Improving and updating an existing probabilistic accumulation model for the lifetime exposure to microplastic particles present in exposure media such as air, beverages, fish, meat, grains, vegetables, and any other relevant media. This includes (literature review) assessing and probabilistically describing the abundances of microplastic particles in these exposure media.
  • Design and programming of a probabilistic physiologically based kinetic (PBK) model for microplastic particles that takes into account the diversity of the particles and translates the external exposure into biodistribution in the body.
  • Quantification of the sensitivity and uncertainty in model outputs as a function of parameter variability and uncertainty, for short- and long- term exposure scenarios.
  • Model calibration and validation using the best available empirical data. Providing guidance material for using the models and reflection on implications for risks.
  • The research is embedded in the MicroplasticLab group within the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management chair (AEW - WUR), which is led by Prof. dr. Bart Koelmans, You will be co-supervised by dr. Nur Hazimah Mohamed Nor (NTU) and dr. Merel Kooi (WUR). More info on our projects can be found here.


  • a successfully completed MSc degree in Toxicology, Biomedical Science, Risk Assessment Science, Environmental Science and Engineering Science or a related field.
  • demonstrable experience with, and strong interest in, computer programming (e.g. python, R, matlab) and strong mathematical background (either through work experience or specialization during your M.Sc.)
  • excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page
  • strong collaborative skills
  • ,

    Conditions of employment

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

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and 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 € 2.443,- per month rising to € 3.122,- 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 17th 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. 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.


    Employer 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, 6.800 employees and 12.900 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. Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!


    Additional information

    For more information about this position, please contact prof. dr. Bart Koelmans, professor, tel: +31317 483201, or by email For more information about the procedure you can contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter, e-mail:

    Do you want to apply? You can apply directly by uploading your CV and motivation letter, 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 May 23 2022. The preferred starting date for this position is 1 july 2022.

    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. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.