Ph.D. on the Global Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus under Climate Extremes (1.0 FTE)

Hours per week: 36 to 40

Faculty: Faculty of Geosciences

Department: GEO/ Dept. FG

Job Description:

We are looking for an enthusiastic Ph.D. candidate who is interested in global-scale hydrology and water resources modeling and its application to issues related to the water-energy-food-ecosystems nexus. You are a team player as you will work within the international multi-disciplinary consortium of the H2020 GoNEXUS program that brings together hydrologists, climate modelers, energy scientists, agro- and hydro-economists, governance researchers, social-scientists, and ecologists. GoNEXUS consists of 18 partners from 14 different countries and will develop a framework for designing and assessing innovative solutions for the governance of the water-energy-food-ecosystems (WEFE) nexus (see the extensive description below).

As a Ph.D., you will focus your research on the impacts of current and future climate extremes on the trade-offs between food and energy security, economic development, and biodiversity. To this end, you will extend our in-house global hydrology and water resources model PCR-GLOBWB with state-of-the-art crop growth and energy (hydropower, thermo-electric) modules and work on separating manufacturing and cooling water use. You will also link the output from PCR-GLOBWB (water temperatures, discharge) to the biodiversity model GLOBIO. You will investigate the changing hydro-economic on the water-energy-food-ecosystems (WEFE) nexus by including sector-specific production cost modeling and linking this to economic partial equilibrium models to analyze the effects on prices and trade. You will use the evolving versions of the WEFE modeling framework under various combined climate-socio-economic (and policy) scenarios with a specific focus on the development of the WEFE nexus during climate shocks (floods and droughts). In addition to the research line described above, you will be cooperating with partners from the GoNEXUS consortium by supplying PCR-GLOBWB model outputs to energy, agroeconomic, and biodiversity models, by ingesting policy scenarios (e.g., CAP, Green Deal for Europe) and by including insights from basin-scale case studies.


We are looking for a candidate with:

  • a Master’s degree in Earth Sciences, Hydrology, Environmental Sciences or a related field;
  • demonstrable enthusiasm for large-scale hydrological modeling in the context of global change and mastering scripting or programming language (e.g., Python, R, Fortran, C++);
  • the willingness to work at the interface of research and policy;
  • the willingness to work in multi-disciplinary teams;
  • English oral and writing skills; you should be able to demonstrate English language proficiency. We require a qualification English at C1 level (comparable to level 3 of the Lecturer Assessment Grid) or you should be willing to obtain this level by training.


You will be offered a full-time PhD position (1.0 fte), initially for one year with an extension to four years in total upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific
intent that it results in a doctorate within this period.

The gross salary starts with €2,395 per month in the first year and increases to €3,061 per month in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities) for full-time employment.

In addition, you will receive a holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. Utrecht University also has an appealing package of terms of employment, including the choice for a good balance between work and private (a good arrangement for leave, among other things), possibilities for development, and an excellent pension scheme. More information on working at Utrecht University can be found here.

Additional information:

For more information about this position, please contact: Prof. dr. Marc Bierkens  external link, via  external link.


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. 

To apply, click here. Please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation as well.

Applications should include the names of at least two referees (with e-mail addresses and phone numbers).

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews may be subject to change.

The application deadline is 30 June 2021.

An original announcement is posted here.