PhD Position in Arctic Coastal Erosion
VU University of Amsterdam Faculty of Science

PhD student in Arctic coastal erosion at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


FTE:  1.0

Job description

Permafrost coasts, covering about 65% of the total Arctic Ocean shorelines, are in the hotspot of change. They experience both warming and increased physical forcing from waves, storms, and tides due to diminishing sea ice. The massive organic carbon pool stored in permafrost is therefore increasingly exposed to thaw and mobilization in aquatic systems. Here it can be degraded into greenhouse gases, strengthening climate warming, or buried into sediments, attenuating climate warming.

To what extent this flux of permafrost carbon will affect future climate is poorly understood but we know that it depends on the degree of degradation after thaw and during transport across continental shelves.                                                   

This project, part of a prestigious VIDI grant by Associate Prof Jorien Vonk, will help to determine the fate of permafrost carbon in the marine system which will enable us to improve quantification of the impact of permafrost thaw on climate. You will join Vonk's Arctic Biogeochemistry research group at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam along with a parallel hired postdoctoral researcher on the VIDI project. The other team members work on related topics funded through an ERC starting grant THAWSOME, the large EU consortium Nunataryuk, as well as the Dutch excellence program Netherlands Earth System Science Center (NESSC). 

Your duties

  • Collect samples at eroding coastal sites in the Canadian and Alaskan Beaufort Sea, together with the VIDI postdoctoral candidate
  • Perform hydrodynamic fractionation of collected samples according to their density, settling velocity and size, in collaboration with the VIDI postdoctoral candidate
  • Perform molecular and biogeochemical analyses on the sample fractions
  • Present results at conferences and in peer-reviewed publications
  • Play a role in supervising MSc and BSc students and/or our Hydrology and Earth Science teaching programmes
  • Finalize your work into a PhD thesis
  • Contribute with your own unique character to our dynamic group


  • MSc in Earth sciences or related disciplines
  • Previous fieldwork and laboratory experience
  • Hands-on, creative attitude
  • Strong scientific motivation
  • Good social skills and excellent ability to communicate in spoken and written English
  • Willingness to spend substantial time abroad, and ability to work independently in challenging conditions
  • Drivers licence

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,395 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.


We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter along with the names of two references until January 20, 2021. The job interviews are planned for February, starting date would be April 1st at the latest. Covid-19 restrictions will be taken into account for traveling, both during the interview stage as well as during the start of the project.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions

If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Associate Professor Jorien Vonk

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