PhD position: “Modelling the drivers of reef microbialization”

This vacancy is the result of the collaboration between Utrecht University and NIOZ. The Department of Earth Sciences (UU, Theoretical Biology & Bioinformatics) the UU Metagenomics Group (MGX) and the NIOZ Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB) are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate, a MSc with a major in computational biology or metabolic modelling.

2020-12-16 15:55:20

VACANCY ID:                     2020 – 80
CLOSING DATE                 January 20th, 2021.

You will join two world-class research groups: the UU Metagenomics Group (MGX) and the NIOZ Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB).

Both UU and NIOZ are truly interdisciplinary and international institutes. UU has over 30,000 students and over 5,000 faculty and staff and is consistently ranked among the world’s top universities. UU is renowned for our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education, and equally for the familiar atmosphere and the ambitious can-do mentality of our people. Bioinformatics is one of the Focus Areas of Utrecht University. NIOZ is a world leading marine research institute performs and promotes excellent, highly multidisciplinary research on questions relating to marine systems, addressing both scientific and societal questions. With its mission ‘Blue Planet’ NIOZ serves as the national oceanographic center in the Netherlands and serves as national marine research facilitator for the Dutch scientific community.


Coastal ecosystems worldwide are under threat due to increased anthropogenic pressure. Subsequent phase shifts in the marine system are characterized by alterations in the microbiome, often associated with higher abundances of copiotrophic and pathogenic bacteria. This may create a positive feedback loop that further fosters the downward trajectory of ecosystem degradation, a phenomenon called microbialization. As microbial dynamics are both cause and consequence of ecological phase shifts, they play a pivotal role in ecosystem health. As part of a recently funded collaboration project between the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) and Utrecht University (UU), you will combine large metabolomic and metagenomic datasets with microbial community modelling to improve our understanding of the structuring mechanisms behind microbialization and to identify potential intervention strategies.


We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate, a MSc with a major in computational biology or metabolic modelling. You will be using bioinformatic analysis and computational modelling to investigate the fundamental principles that shape microbiomes, as well as multi-disciplinary approaches to identify how microbial processes influence ecosystem functioning in marine and coral reef systems. Your computer and programming skills are excellent. Due to the international character of our research, good command of English, spoken as well as written, is a prerequisite.  We highly encourage applicants from all members of our community and of diverse background to join us.


Employment of this position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO (The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research). We offer a position for a period of 4 years (fulltime). We offer a position for a period of 1 year (fulltime). At the end of this first year, the employment will be extended for a fixed-term of a maximum of 4 years, if the first year evaluation held with the employee is positive. The salary is compliant to the CAO-OI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes), a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, a year-end bonus of 8,3%, flexible work arrangements and arrangements and 42 days of holiday leave (fulltime position).

You may expect attractive secondary employment conditions. We offer generous relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation.


For additional information about this vacancy, please contact dr. Bas E. Dutilh (Assistant Professor Theoretical Biology & Bioinformatics at UU) and dr. Andreas Haas (senior scienstist at NIOZ). For additional information about the procedure, please contact Valentijn Tiemensma (senior HR advisor).

For more information about Theoretical Biology and Bioinformatics in the Department of Biology at Utrecht see here; for more information about the Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry at NIOZ, see here.

Find more information about the UU-NIOZ projects here.


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