PhD Position in Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • PhD Position in Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry
  • University Graduate
Are you an Earth scientist that is highly motivated and strongly committed to science? Would you like to work at the interfaces of sedimentology, geo-microbiology and geochemistry? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

The PhD student will work in the field of geomicrobiology and  biomineralization of carbonates, within the project Geobiological mechanisms controlling the formation of carbonate minerals at low temperatures. The overall aim is to investigate if and how microorganisms control the mineralogy and therefore, the geochemistry of carbonate minerals that grow at low temperature (<50° C) to establish if these minerals can act as proxies of the paleo-conditions of formation. We will examine the hypersaline system in Laguna Fuente de Piedra (SW Spain), one of few places of present-day dolomite formation, and perform biotic and abiotic laboratory experiments that mimic natural environments (i.e., vary temperature, pH, salinity etc). The different metabolisms involved in carbonate biomineralization under oxic and anoxic conditions are expected to deliver characteristic nanotextural and geochemical signatures in both mineral and organic phases. Therefore, the characterization of dolomite in the hypersaline and evaporitic environment of Fuente de Piedra, coupled with laboratory experiments, will allow a quantitative interpretation of the processes that cause dolomite formation. Models developed from these data will be applied to examples of early Earth environments where unaltered carbonates are preserved to determine the palaeo-environment and possible role of life.

The project is highly interdisciplinary acting at the interfaces of sedimentology, geomicrobiology and geochemistry. The integration of field and laboratory studies with state-of-the-art analytical techniques will allow us to model the bio-physio-chemical controls of the geochemistry of carbonates formed with and without biological mediation. This project involves a multi-technique approach linking fieldwork, laboratory experimentation with the application of cutting-edge analytical and spectroscopic techniques.


  • highly motivated candidate who is strongly committed to research
  • MSc or equivalent degree in Earth Sciences
  • strong analytical skills
  • affinity with fieldwork
  • willing to supervise BSc and MSc student projects

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization including outstanding research and training opportunities with access to state-of-the-art facilities and an excellent scientific network - our faculty members are internationally recognized scientists affiliated with renowned research institutes and universities in The Netherlands and around the world. You will take part in a graduate school program with flexible curriculum structure and training courses and lectures on scientific topics as well as technical and complementary skills.

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,325 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €2,972 (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 0,8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total 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:
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

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. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,500 students. We employ more than 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.

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.
About the department
The Earth Sciences Department at the Faculty of Science offers a stimulating multi-disciplinary working environment in research and teaching within two clusters: Geology and Geochemistry and Earth and Climate. This PhD position is in the Geology and Geochemistry cluster that covers a broad spectrum of research including isotopic and trace element studies of the Earth system, time scales and rates processes, sedimentology and stratigraphy, geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry, Earth’s climate, geodynamics and tectonics, and planetary science.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 31 December 2019. The job interviews are planned for January 2020.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

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

Name: Dr. Monica Sanchez-Roman
Position: Assistant professor
Telephone: +31 20 598 7365; +31 6 2990 8412

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