PhD (3 years) Analytical Environmental Chemistry

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • PhD (3 years) Analytical Environmental Chemistry
  • University Graduate
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network (ETN), LimnoPlast, is looking for a  highly motivated and talented student with a MSc degree who is interested in an ambitious multidisciplinary project on environmental microplastic contamination, freshwater systems and the link with human exposure.Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 1.0

Job description

LimnoPlast Project’s overall goals
Microplastic is one of the planetary pollution problems that affects practically all habitats, including freshwater. LimnoPlast is an European research project designed to address the problem of microplastics pollution in freshwater systems and train 15 early stage researchers (ESRs). The transdisciplinary project covers the chain of events from emissions to impacts and explores mitigation strategies such as end-of-pipe approaches and polymer redesign.
The early stage researcher described in this vacancy advertisement will be hosted by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and cover the topic: From freshwater to drinking water and food-human exposure to microplastics. The ambitious mandate is to investigate plastic particles and determine these in matrices associated with human exposure, i.e., drinking water and freshwater-related food (e.g., fish from aquaculture) in order to provide the world’s first estimate of human exposure to plastic particles. The researcher will determine if plastic particles have contaminated the living environment of humans, tracking plastic particles sources in the Amsterdam hydrosystem as a case study. In close collaboration with two other early stage researchers working in LimnoPlast, the candidate will design a sampling plan according to best practices, taking into account statistical power, modelling, cost-effectiveness, fit for purpose and needs of data users. Attention to method validation and collection of QA/QC data will be key in this project. The ultimate objective is to understand the potential exposure routes of plastic particles for humans.

Your duties
Develop and validate analytical methodologies to detect, identify, and quantify plastic particles in several different environmental and biological matrices to use in generating an analytical dataset that gives insights into plastic particles.
  • investigate plastic particle distribution in the aquatic environment
  • modelling of plastic particle environmental distribution
  • ensure QA/QC of data produced
  • gather data on potential exposure routes of microplastics for humans
  • inter/transdisciplinary collaborations with other PhD students in the consortium
  • execution of an external secondment at SIAAP - Greater Paris Sanitation Authority (
  • supervision of research traineeships and literature theses of master students within the scope of the LimnoPlast project
  • regular progress updates at LimnoPlast project meetings and group meetings
  • dissemination of results in peer-reviewed journals and at conferences
  • write and defend a PhD thesis at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


  • required diploma: MSc in Analytical environmental chemistry, Analytical chemistry or very closely related degree
  • equired expertise: Analytical environmental chemistry, excellent command of the English language and scientific writing skills
  • recommended expertise: Environmental monitoring and/or Human biomonitoring
Eligibility criteria of Marie Curie Initial Training Networks apply. Only applicants who comply with the following conditions may be considered:
  • at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, candidates must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree
  • conditions of international mobility: Eligible candidates may be of any nationality but must not, at the time of recruitment, have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 last years immediately prior to the reference date

What are we offering?

Fixed-term contract with a maximum of 36 months.
LimnoPlast offers the candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam :
  • a generously funded full-time position (duration 36 months) for an early stage researcher (ESR) according to the EU Marie Curie ITN funding scheme (for more information see version 2 on
  • a high profile research project in the LimnoPlast Innovative Training Network Program
  • excellent facilities for research and education
  • research training in both academic and nonacademic settings
  • training in state-of-the-art scientific and transferable skills
  • access to large network via LimnoPlast international collaborators and secondment abroad
A challenging position in a socially engaged organization. In accordance with university regulations for academic personnel the gross-per-month salary amounts to €2709 (PhD) during the first year and increases to €2972 (PhD) in the third year, based on full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1.0 FTE.

More information on the set of 15 LimnoPlast PhD positions:

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 LIMNOPLAST consortium
The LimnoPlast consortium has a dedicated mission to train and educate the next generation of interdisciplinary early stage researchers (ESRs) in the field of plastic particle environmental continuation. These scientists will have expertise in three commonly very distant disciplines, environmental, technical and social sciences, which will make them highly employable after the project closes and enable a step change in how we deal with this and future environmental challenges. The LimnoPlast consortium will offer an extensive multidisciplinary training programme to the ESRs to ensure that they can take on complex environmental issues and contribute to Europe’s eco-innovation. This will include both research and transferable skill sets. The aim is to enhance their career opportunities by specifically focusing on skill sets that are needed to work in today’s environmental science pipelines not only in academia, but in the public and private sectors. LimnoPlast will hire 15 ESRs across Europe who will be trained in both academic and industrial settings according to a personalised scheme with cross-secondments in academic and/or industrial participating organisations. One ESR will be hosted at the Department of Environment and Health, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter on or before 1 February 2020. The job interviews will take place via a Skype interview.

Please send the following information (as one pdf file):
  • detailed CV (include information on your BSc and MSc studies, languages, achievements, expertise, laboratory skills)
  • motivation letter, addressed to the LimnoPlast selection committee, explaining your motivation and suitability for the position.
  • contact details of at least 2 references (names, addresses, emails).
  • reference letter from one of the references
  • academic diplomas and certificates, scanned copies
  • official academic transcript (i.e. documents enlisting your performance as BSc and MSc student over time by listing the course units or modules taken, credits gained and the grades awarded). If you have not completed your MSc degree yet include all grades obtained so far.
  • english language skills certificate, for non-native English speakers

N.B. Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.  If you have applied by email, please reapply via the VU website

Vacancy questions

If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:
Name: Dr. Heather Leslie

No agencies

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