Process controlling P dynamics upon reductive transformation of P containing Fe minerals

Supervisor: Dr. Thilo Behrends (Utrecht University, The Netherlands, T.Behrends@uu.nl)

Co-supervisor: Andreas Voegelin (EAWAG, Switzerland, Andreas.Voegelin@eawag.ch)

Employer: Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Project description: This project is part of the European H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network P-TRAP (Preventing Phosphorus Input to Surface Waters – New Concepts in Trapping, Recycling and Management). P-TRAP tackles two urgent interlinked global problems: Potential shortages of phosphate (P) for producing agricultural fertilizers and the decline of surface water quality upon excess phosphate input. P-TRAP targets the P flux from artificially drained agricultural areas and the internal P load of lakes. By this, P-TRAP aims at intercepting the undesired flux of phosphate from agricultural systems into surface waters and developing a phosphate recycling strategy.

ESR 6 will investigate the behaviour of phosphate  during the transformation of iron minerals in laboratory experiments . The goal is to develop deterministic models for describing and predicting the phosphate dynamics during the reduction or recrystallisation of phosphate-containing iron minerals. The results will be used to characterise and constrain the prerequisites for long-term binding of phosphate in lake sediments. She or he will  also contribute to studying the fate of phosphate during the reductive transformation of iron minerals in bioreactors. The project will be performed in close collaboration with Dutch and international partners and involves secondments at academic partners in the consortium but also at companies which are partner organizations in the P-TRAP project.

Qualifications: We seek an enthusiastic PhD student holding an MSc degree (at the start of the contract) that ensures appropriate background knowledge in environmental sciences, earth sciences, environmental mineralogy and/or (environmental) chemistry. You have a solid knowledge on biogeochemical processes in aquatic and terrestrial environments. Experience in performing laboratory experiments, solid phase characterization and chemical analysis methods  is helpful but not required.

You approach scientific problems with determination and eager to develop multidisciplinary skills. You must be willing to travel abroad for secondments and measurement campaigns, and to present your research to an international research community. As this project requires close collaboration within the consortium, candidates are expected to be excellent team players. You also have excellent written and spoken English skills.

According to EU eligibility criteria, researchers may be of any nationality, BUT must be at their early carrier stage and may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in The Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the application deadline.

Terms of employment: You will be offered a full-time position at first for one year, conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. With good performance this will be extended to a total period of four years, with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross monthly salary starts with €2,325 in the first year and increases to €2,972 in the fourth year (scale P) of employment with a full-time appointment. The salary is supplemented by a holiday allowance of 8% per year and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%. In addition, we offer a pension scheme, (partly paid) parental leave, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions. More information can be found at https://www.uu.nl/en/organisation/working-at-utrecht-university.

Facilities for sports and child care are available on our main campus (where the Department of Earth Sciences is situated), which is located only 15 minutes away from the historical city centre of Utrecht. You will also profit from the training activities within P-TRAP which includes summer schools and other project-wide and local activities.

About the organisation: The Utrecht Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. With a population of 2600 students (BSc and MSc) and 600 staff members, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty is organised in four Departments: Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, and Human Geography & Spatial Planning. The Department of Earth Sciences conducts teaching and research across the full range of the solid Earth and environmental Earth sciences, with activities in almost all areas of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, biogeology and hydrogeology. The department hosts a highly international group of more than 100 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers and houses a wide variety of world-class laboratories. You will be working within the geochemistry group  (https://www.uu.nl/en/research/department-of-earth-sciences/geochemistry) which focuses on the geochemistry of the Earth surface. The group combines field data with experimental, modeling and theoretical approaches to elucidate biogeochemical cycles and mineral transformations along the aquatic continuum, e.g. from weathering of rocks to biogeochemistry of deep-sea sediments. We investigate (bio)geochemical processes from the nanometer to the global scale and utilize the geological record to better project Earth surface conditions in the future.

How to apply: Please upload your application material by using the vacancy portal of the University Utrecht. Evaluations and interviews will begin May 1st of 2019 and continue until the position is filled. The intended start will be September 1st of 2019.

The application material should include a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae, copies of university and high-school degrees (including grades) and either two letters of recommendation or contact information of two people that can be contacted for reference. The selection procedure will follow the Code of Conduct for Recruitment. In a first round candidates will be selected first on EU eligibility criteria, second on qualifications. In a second round promising candidates will be invited to a job-interview with the direct supervisors.

Contact: Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from Dr. Thilo Behrends via t.behrends@uu.nl or Dr. Sylvia Walter via s.walter@uu.nl.