PhD Candidate for Drivers and Consequences of Changing Plant-Microbe
Interactions in Peatlands
Employment: 0.8 - 1.0 FTE
Gross monthly salary: € 2,434 - € 3,111
Faculty of Science
Required background: Research University Degree
Application deadline: 15 October 2021
Metre by metre, peatlands store more carbon (C) than any other terrestrial
ecosystem. The rapidly changing climate is, however, affecting the C storing
function of peatlands. Peatland carbon dynamics pivot around processes -
primarily production and decomposition - that are modulated by above- and
belowground biotic communities. While the importance of links between plant
and soil biotic communities on ecosystem processes is recognised, little is
known about the role of these links in maintaining key ecosystem processes.
Moreover,our recent work shows that plant and microbial communities do not
respond in parallel to changes in enviro-climatic conditions, resulting in a
rewiring of plant-soil biotic networks. How such rewiring plays out on C
dynamics remains unresolved.
In this PhD project, you will unravel how climate and the environment affect
plant-soil biotic interactions. Specifically, you will quantify the functional
role of plant-soil biota interactions in peatlands and assess how these
interactions are affected by environmental and climatic conditions. In the
light of this, you will identify core network interactions, their temporal
stability, and enviro-climatological thresholds at which rewired network
interactions aggravate important ecosystem processes, particularly carbon
dynamics. The above list of duties is intended to describe the general nature
and level of work performed in this project. It is not construed to be an
exhaustive list, and ample opportunity will be given to explore novel ideas
and to break new ground in the field of peatland ecology and plant-soil
interactions. In addition to the tasks as outlined above you will have a 10%
We are seeking an enthusiastic, highly motivated candidate ecologist with a
strong and proven interest in community ecology, microbial ecology and/or
ecosystems ecology. You should hold or be about to complete an MSc degree (or
equivalent) in ecology, microbiology, environmental sciences, or a related
field. The ideal candidate is pro-active, results-oriented with attention to
detail, and performs well in large teams. We specifically look for a person
with an appetite for field work -often remote- in natural or semi-natural
peatlands across Europe; a driving licence is required to be able to travel to
field sites. Some basic knowledge about peatland vegetation would be
favourable. Previous experience with molecular techniques (DNA extractions,
sequencing), and soil functional analyses (GHG measurements, MicroRespTM)
is preferred. You must be proficient in communication in written and verbal
English. The following additional skills will be advantageous: good
statistical skills; expertise in statistical modelling in the context of
ecological network data; a good command of an open-source programming language
(R, Python), or the willingness to learn such a language. Our group is
dedicated to FAIR data policies, and we expect PhD candidates to familiarise
themselves with FAIR data management and coding during their PhD.
Radboud University is committed to establishing and maintaining a diverse and
inclusive community that collectively supports and implements our mission to
do great science. We welcome, recruit, develop and advance talented people
from diverse genders and backgrounds.
Aquatic Ecology & Environmental Biology is a highly dynamic, collaborative and
interdisciplinary department. We are a young, ambitious and internationally
connected research group. We aim for both timely and innovative fundamental
research and applied science that lie at the heart of society. Working at the
Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES; formerly
known as the Institute for Water and Wetland Reseach) will provide you with
opportunities to deepen interdisciplinary aspects of your research,
investigating key ecological drivers and processes that explain the
functioning of wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide. Your research
will be embedded in ongoing research lines in the field of wetland ecology and
plant-microbe interactions, and you will collaborate with colleagues from
different universities and institutes in the Netherlands and beyond. The main
supervisors for this PhD position are Dr Bjorn Robroek and Dr Annelies
Veraart. Additional support will be provided by Dr Sarian Kosten and Prof.
We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because
this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and
education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with
equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students
and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent,
collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!
Employment for 0.8 (5 year contract) - 1.0 FTE (4 year contract).
The gross starting salary amounts to €2,434 per month based on a 38-hour
working week, and will increase to €3,111 from the fourth year onwards
(salary scale P).
You will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your
performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract
will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year
You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual
Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support,
help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide
customized support in their search for employment and help your family
settle in Nijmegen.
Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time
employment, you can choose between 29 or 41 days of annual leave instead
of the legally allotted 20.
Additional employment conditions
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in
Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make
arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working
hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to
compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange
income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports
subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given
plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your
ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.
Would you like more information?
For questions about the position, please contact Bjorn Robroek, Assistant
Professor at +31 (0)24 3652860 or email@example.com.
Practical information and applications
You can apply until 15 October 2021, exclusively using the button below.
Kindly address your application to Bjorn Robroek. Please fill in the
application form and attach the following documents:
Letter of motivation.
CV including contact details of two academic references.
A brief (max. 1 page) overview of two key aspects of research within
this theme you would focus on, which should also address changes in plant-
microbe interactions as regulators in peatland ecosystem processes in a
A digital copy of your MSc degree certificate. If you have not yet
completed your degree, please add a recommendation letter from your
The first round of interviews will take place on 16 November. You would
preferably begin employment on 1 February 2022.
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rough outline of what you can expect during the application process, how we
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