Vacatures voor Academisch Personeel

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Departement: Departement Biologie
Regime Voltijds

Let’s shape the future - University of Antwerp

The University of Antwerp is a dynamic, forward-thinking, European university. We offer an innovative academic education to more than 20000 students, conduct pioneering scientific research and play an important service-providing role in society. We are one of the largest, most international and most innovative employers in the region. With more than 6000 employees from 100 different countries, we are helping to build tomorrow's world every day. Through top scientific research, we push back boundaries and set a course for the future – a future that you can help to shape. 

The Department of Biology in the Faculty of Sciences is looking for a full-time (100%) doctoral scholarship holder in the field of Tidal wetland restoration


  • Background: Human interventions have greatly affected the geomorphology and ecological functioning of estuaries on a global scale. In Belgium and the Netherlands, this is most clearly seen in the Scheldt estuary, which has been significantly narrowed by dike construction up till the 1950’s, while deepening of the channels for navigation continued, together resulting in strong amplification of tidal water levels and currents. The resulting decline in extent and quality of tidal ecosystems has imposed active measures to restore these valuable areas. This project aims to gain fundamental understanding of the processes driving ecosystem development of newly restored tidal wetlands, in order to improve future restoration measures. Research will consist of a combination of field observations and manipulative field and lab experiments, to improve model predictions of ecosystem development. The research will be done in the Hedwige-Prosperpolder (Scheldt estuary, Belgium & Netherlands).
  • Project organization: The project will be a collaboration between the University of Antwerp (UAntwerp) and NIOZ-Yerseke. Two PhD candidates – one at UAntwerp and one at NIOZ – will work together on this project and will share the supervisory team consisting of prof. Stijn Temmerman (UAntwerp), prof. Tjeerd Bouma (NIOZ, Utrecht Univ.), and prof. Johan van de Koppel (NIOZ). The present vacancy is for the UAntwerp PhD position; the vacancy for the NIOZ PhD position will become available through this link:
  • The position: The UAntwerp PhD student will study the geomorphological development and drivers of vegetation establishment and expansion on unvegetated tidal flats. These questions are important, as establishment of tidal marsh vegetation provides valuable ecosystem services, such as phytoremediation against sediment polution, climate regulation by carbon sequestration, habitat for birds, etc. By using field measurements, remote sensing imagery and laboratory studies, you will resolve the following 4 sub-questions: (1) Which abiotic factors (geomorphology, inundation time, sediment drainage and compaction,…) drive the rate of vegetation establishment? (2) How can biota (benthos, algae, etc.) accelerate or reduce the rate of vegetation establishment? (3) How can this information be used to improve models predicting the ecosystem development of tidal flats and marshes?  (4) Which marsh species are suitable for phytoremediation by taking up polluting compounds in harvestable above ground parts? The project explicitly aims to provide the fundamental understanding needed, to move from science to practice, supporting the design of future tidal wetland restoration programs. The research builds on earlier projects, from which a wealth of data are available for further analyses.
  • As part of a larger integrated multidisciplinary research project, you will collaborate within a team of ecologists, hydrodynamic modelers and geomorphologists / physical geographers. You will have the closest collaboration with the twinning PhD, as you will do the fieldwork together.


  • We are looking for a highly-motivated candidate with an MSc degree in ecology/biology OR physical geography OR engineering OR related disciplines (or you will have obtained this MSc degree by the time you start the position).
  • The candidate should have a keen interest in designing smart experiments, setting up and carrying out challenging experimental field work and be able to analyze complicated data. Good statistical knowledge is a prerequisite, and a good feeling for mathematics is a benefit.
  • Candidates should be capable of planning and organizing their own work independently, to organize and carry out field experiments, and meet deadlines imposed by the project.
  • Most importantly, the candidate should be open and communicative, and keen on interacting with both end-users and interdisciplinary project partners.
  • The candidate should be inspired by frontier-applied research, where fundamental knowledge is developed, in order to provide a knowledge base for land and water managers.
  • Excellent communication skills and an open collaborative attitude are essential for the success of the project.
  • Good English oral and writing skills are demanded, as the candidate is expected to publish the findings in scientific journals and effectively communicate results to end-users.
  • Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies.
  • Your teaching competences are in line with the University of Antwerp’s educational vision.
  • You act with attention to quality, integrity, creativity and cooperation.

What we offer

  • We offer a doctoral scholarship for a period of four years.
  • The planned start date is the 1st of September 2023.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for Contract Research Staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will receive ecocheques, and a bicycle allowance or a full reimbursement of public transport costs for commuting.
  • You will do most of your work at campus Drie Eiken in a dynamic and stimulating working environment.
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here.

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including the 15th of June 2023 (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: a motivation letter, your CV, and contact information of max. 2 reference persons.
  • The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact Prof. Stijn Temmerman, e-mail:

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.