Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is a leading, innovative and growing university that is at the heart of society and actively contributes to new developments in teaching and research. Our university has ten faculties which span a wide range of disciplines, as well as several institutes, foundations, research centres, and support services. Its campus is located in the fastest-growing economic region in the Netherlands (the Zuidas district of Amsterdam), and provides work for over 4,500 staff and scientific education for more than 23,000 students.
At the department of Earth Sciences, we study our dynamic planet from nano- to planetary scale. We quantify the key cycles and interactions in system Earth over timescales from seconds to millions of years by combining fieldwork, lab work and computer simulations. By bringing to bear our fundamental understanding of system Earth and our fresh curiosity we conduct research that is relevant for today’s societal challenges including sustainability, climate change and natural hazards. The department’s research facilities are regarded as outstanding, while the department’s international focus fosters national and international collaboration, both contributing to high-quality and high-impact research outcomes.


This vacancy is part of a prestigious Vidi project funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The project will combine field work, remote sensing and statistical modeling to study interactions between climate, vegetation and fire in boreal and arctic systems.


The PhD student will estimate carbon emissions from fires and investigate tree recruitment after fires in boreal forests and arctic tundra using a combination of field and remote sensing approaches. Satellite data processing will encompass the entire circumpolar arctic-boreal biomes, and the applicant should therefore be able to handle big datasets efficiently. Field data includes existing and newly acquired data. The applicant should be able to deal with logistical issues and challenging conditions for field campaigns in Siberia. The applicant will closely collaborate with other team members and colleagues, among others from NASA’s Arctic-Boreal Vulnerability Experiment. The research should lead to peer-reviewed publications that will be used to write a PhD thesis. The applicant will present the results at national and international conferences, and contribute to teaching courses.

• MSc. in earth, ecological or environmental sciences or related field but with proven interest in earth sciences and/or (spatial) ecology;
• excellent ability to communicate in both written and spoken English, knowledge of Russian is advantageous;
• strong scientific motivation, and interest in climate change issues as well as Earth system science;
• hands-on and curiosity-driven, and ability to work independently;
• affinity with objected-oriented coding (preferably Python), GIS and statistical modeling;
• affinity with field work in remote (arctic-boreal) locations;
• good social skills.

Further particulars

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years. Planned project start is November 1st, 2018 or soon after.You can find information about our excellent fringe benefits of employment at like:
• remuneration of 8,3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday allowance
• solid pension scheme (ABP);
• a minimum of 29 holidays in case of full-time employment;
• generous contribution commuting allowance based on public transport;
• discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance);
• a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge.


The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel, and ranges from a minimum of € 2266 gross per month up to a maximum of € 2897 gross per month based on fulltime employment (salary scale 85) for a PhD student.


For additional information please contact Sander Veraverbeke by email at
(website: Responses may be slower between July 20 and August 17.


Applicants should send a cover letter with their motivation (maximum 2 pages), CV, and MSc thesis, as well as the names and contact details of two references before October 1st to with the vacancy number in the subject.
Vacancy number: 18272
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