Are you an enthusiastic post-doc researcher who wants to be part of the multidisciplinary Synergia team of 18 PhD candidates, 2 postdocs and 6 PdEng from 5 Dutch universities working towards the next-generation agricultural production systems that are sustainable, circular and regenerative? The aim of this postdoc position is to explore and design future visions for the agricultural production systems in the three use-cases of the program.

The Synergia research program
The Synergia program is a crossover program funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Synergia contributes to the UN Sustainability Development Goals for the environment (depletion of scarce resources, global warming, acidification, eutrophication, nutrient losses, and biodiversity loss), labour (availability of skilled workers), and society (consumer/societal acceptance of novel technology and production methods). Synergia goes beyond current precision agriculture (PA) and precision livestock farming (PLF) and is developing the new concept of ‘Technology-4-Ecology-based farming’ (T4E). Starting point in T4E is that biological/ecological principles in farming lead the development of new farming systems, and the required technological knowledge, principles and tools. Our multi-disciplinary team includes biology, ecology, agronomy, technology and social science backgrounds. Jointly, they will explore how current and future farming technologies can enable and support truly ecology-based farming systems. The partners in this program are Wageningen University & Research, University of Twente, Eindhoven University of Technology, Technical University Delft, Radboud University, Top Institute Food and Nutrition (TiFN) and a broad range of private sector partners. Next to the 26 full time researchers, over 30 experienced researchers will contribute to the program. The program consists of 5 work packages which are connected to three use-cases in different agricultural domains: greenhouse horticulture, dairy and arable farming. The program will run from 2020 to 2027. For more information see www.technology4ecology.org.

The research challenges for this position
The work of the postdoc entails the conceptual design and exploration of future farming systems for the three use-cases in the Synergia research program. This task will be carried out in close collaboration with WP5 (societal aspects) and will involve cooperation with researchers, farmers, industry partners and policy makers related to each use-case. The scientific challenge is to further develop and apply the Reflexive Interactive Design (RIO) approach, build upon the T4E approach and integrate current and future technologies. Part of the design process is to provide ‘hooks’ in both the process and the resulting design to stimulate the practical uptake (building on the concept of ‘anchoring’) of the new farming systems. To this end, three forms of anchoring are distinguished, viz. technological, network and institutional anchoring. The design process is shaped such that each of these is stimulated along the way. The design process will also make use of expectations and experiences of biology and technology researchers in WP1-4 and in the use-cases. We see all stages of innovation, i.e. conception/design, development and uptake/implementation of new technology and farming practices as an inherently socio-technical process. For this reason the postdoc will closely cooperate with social scientists and scientists with a background in Science and Technology Studies (STS), thus on the intersection between the technical and social development. The postdoc will closely cooperate with Dr. Bram Bos from Wageningen Livestock Research and Dr. Boelie Elzen from Wageningen Plant Research.

We ask

The ideal candidate has:

  • A university degree (MSc) and a PhD degree in a combination of disciplines in design and engineering/technology on one hand, and science and technology studies and innovation studies on the other hand.
  • Knowledge and experience with a systems approach or systems thinking.
  • Experience with stakeholder engagement in design and development processes (trans-disciplinarity) and cooperation with other scientific disciplines (interdisciplinarity).
  • Affinity with agricultural or biological systems, and genuine interest in the sustainability challenges in this domain.
  • Proven scientific ambition, proven performance in scientific publishing, and strong ambition to publish future work.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English and, preferably, Dutch. This position requires an excellent English language proficiency  (a mininum of CEFR C1 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.
  • Attitude and abilities to act as a team player who can work independently and who also communicates well with colleagues.
  • We encourage female researchers to apply.

We offer

We offer a meaningful and challenging position with, depending on your experience, a competitive salary from a minimum of € 3.353 to a maximum of € 4.402 for a full working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities. The position is for a period of 4 years (initially for 1 year and after a positive evaluation extension for another 3 years) at an internationally leading research organization. Besides the research you will also be involved in BSc and MSc courses and supervision of students.

  • Close cooperation with internationally renowned researchers with an innovation studies and STS background;
  • Wider collaboration within the inter-disciplinary project Synergia, with participation of various chair groups of 5 top universities in the Netherlands and leading international industrial partners;
  • A good academic working atmosphere and an inspiring university campus;
  • A professional and personal development program.

In addition, we offer:

  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities on campus.

Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.
We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

More information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof.dr.ir. P.W.G. Groot Koerkamp, professor in biosystems engineering and chair holder of the Farm Technology Group, telephone +31 (0)317-480831 or by e-mail peter.grootkoerkamp@wur.nl.
For more information about the procedure, please contact vacaturemeldingen.psg@wur.nl.

You can apply up to and including January 31, 2021.
For this position you can only apply online: http://www.wageningenur.nl/career.

Please do not upload more than 8 pages in total. Proofs of certificates and papers are not requested and not needed in the first stage of application. These will not be taken into consideration. 

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 6,000 employees, and 12,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at the special career site.

Equal opportunities employer
We are an employer that offers equal opportunities. We are happy to receive applications from all suitably qualified people regardless of race, gender, functional impairment, religion / belief, sexual orientation or age.
We believe that a diverse and inclusive working environment makes us a more relevant, competitive and resilient organization. Click here for more information about working at WUR with a functional impairment.

The postdoc will be based at the Farm Technology Group which is part of Wageningen University and which is embedded in the Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen UR. The Farm Technology Group aims at enhancing, exploiting and disseminating technology in primary agricultural production processes with the aim to fulfil the needs of mankind and protect nature in a sustainable way. This mission is achieved by combining knowledge, methodologies and tools from technical sciences with biological, environmental, agricultural and social sciences with the goal to study, understand, manage and design biosystems. The group covers arable farming, (greenhouse) horticulture and livestock farming and variations and mixtures of these application domains as they emerge in response to challenges posed by moving towards a more bio-based economy. Typical research instruments and expertise in our field include sensor technology, data analysis, systems analysis, continuous time and discrete time modelling, systems engineering, integral systems design, systems optimization and management and control of production processes, robotics and precision agriculture techniques. Thus, the group has a technology focus but the postdoc is expected to operate at the intersection of the technical and social aspects related to innovation. More information about the Farm Technology Group can be found on www.wageningenur.nl/fte.

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