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PhD Position in Coral Reef Biology

Faculty of Science – Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Vacancy details of PhD Position in Coral Reef Biology
Publication date 24 September 2021
Closing date 31 October 2021
Level of education Master's degree
Hours 38 hours per week
Salary indication €2,434 to €3,111 gross per month
Vacancy number 21-763

Do you have an MSc in Marine Biology, Ecology or Environmental Science, and are you interested in how reef-building corals are impacted by multiple climate change stressors? Are you excited to elucidate the mechanisms that enable corals to cope with environmental extremes, and do you enjoy both field and laboratory work? We are looking for a PhD student who will conduct research on corals living in extreme/marginal reef environments to better understand how environmental variability alters coral stress tolerance to future ocean conditions.

What are you going to do

You will investigate how fluctuating environmental conditions alter coral resistance to heat, acidification and low-oxygen stress. This will include fieldwork in extreme/marginal coral reef environments in the Caribbean where corals are naturally exposed to extreme and variable conditions. The aim is to investigate whether such an environmental history is linked to enhanced stress tolerance. You will further conduct controlled aquarium experiments to simulate different variability regimes in combination with future ocean conditions, analyze seawater physico-chemical conditions and conduct physiological analyses. Finally, you will use statistical analysis to interpret the data, communicate your results via conference presentations and publications in peer-reviewed journals, and write a high-quality PhD thesis, while closely working with the project team.

You are expected to:

  • spend significant time in the field (Caribbean);
  • meet regularly with the project team and collaborators to present work in progress and discuss findings;
  • assist with the supervision of BSc and Msc students, if and when requested;
  • assist teaching coral reef courses, if and when required;
  • Show good time management, balancing competing demands and multiple deadlines;
  • Be aware of and proactive about the risks associated with working in a marine environment, in tropical locations and in a laboratory, and comply with health and safety regulations.

What do we require

  • MSc in marine biology, ecology or environmental science, or a related discipline.
  • An interest in, and understanding of, how marine organisms adjust their physiology to environmental stress, especially in the context of climate change.
  • Experience with marine fieldwork in tropical locations and willingness to spend extended time periods in the field (Caribbean).
  • SCUBA diving certificate and scientific diving experience.
  • Experience with coral husbandry and setting up and running aquarium experiments.
  • Experience with laboratory work, preferably related to coral eco-physiology and seawater chemistry (e.g. nutrients, carbonate chemistry).
  • Good analytical and statistical skills, including the use of programming languages such as R.
  • Excellent English skills  and demonstrated skills in scientific writing (either excellent Master-thesis (in English) or published paper in peer-reviewed scientific journal).
  • An ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of four years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of four years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and Master students. 

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be € 2,434 to € 3,111 (scale P) gross per month, based on a fulltime contract (38 hours a week). This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

About us

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) is one of eight research institutes of the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam. The research at IBED aims to unravel how ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. At its core lies an integrated systems approach to study biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment. IBED adopts this systems approach to ecosystems, addressing abiotic (soil and water quality) and biotic factors (ecology and evolution of plants, animals, and microorganisms), and the interplay between those. The IBED vision includes research encompassing experimental and theoretical approaches at a wide variety of temporal and spatial scales, i.e. from molecules and microorganisms to patterns and processes occurring at the global scale.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 31 October 2021. You can apply online by using the link below. 

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • Motivation letter (max 2 pages) outlining your research interests and how you meet the selection criteria (see section 'What do we require')
  • CV (max 2 pages), including contact details for two referees      

Please mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews during the second half of November 2021.

No agencies please