The Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University invites applications for a Junior Assistant Professor position in the Environmental Sciences group. We are searching for an open and curious natural science-oriented and quantitative scientist. With the aim to contribute to and support research on reversing the current loss of biodiversity worldwide and ensure the future provisioning of ecosystem services. 

Terrestrial biodiversity is degrading rapidly as a result of human pressures. So-far, policies and conservation efforts have not halted this trend. In fact, scenarios show that due to increasing demand for resources, environmental pressures, and climate change, further degradation is expected – putting ecosystem services at risk. While policymakers have formulated ambitious targets at various scales, it is not clear that those can be met. The “Bending the Curve” initiative has started exploring scenarios that could achieve ambitious biodiversity targets. As part of this initiative, Utrecht University, Wageningen University & Research, and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) are collaborating to set up a knowledge hub to support this initiative together with the research institutes working on “Bending the Curve”.

Utrecht University is now searching for a Junior Assistant Professor who, as part of the hub, will support activities, perform original research and contribute to education at Utrecht University for a period of 6 years. The position will allow obtaining a PhD degree over those 6 years. In addition to coordinating activities to support the international network, the research will focus on scenarios that can stop further loss of biodiversity and even lead to recovery. For this, we will focus on key drivers of biodiversity loss, i.e. the expansion of agricultural land, climate change, nitrogen deposition and overexploitation – and look at possible options to reverse trends. 

The research will focus on three case studies, i.e.:

  1. the global scale;
  2. the protection of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and;
  3. nature areas in the Netherlands.

Possible tools depend on the scale but include the IMAGE integrated assessment model at the global scale. The position offers a unique opportunity to contribute to new insights into a critical societal problem, collaborate with researchers within the international network, and combine this personal development with a PhD. 

Next to research, the position will also involve teaching, in which the candidate is expected to obtain the Basic Qualification Teaching.


We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with a background in integrated global modelling, biodiversity or related research and knowledge of key interactions between human and environmental systems. You are expected to assess the possible future development of drivers of biodiversity loss and the state of ecological systems, and the response strategies. You are also interested in how science can play a key role in providing policy-relevant information for national and international policies. The candidate is expected to contribute to the coordination of activities in the Bending the Curve initiative and knowledge hub and perform new original research. Moreover, the candidate will also teach in the Global Sustainability Science bachelor. Teaching is in English.

We gladly receive applications from candidates who:

  • have a MSc in integrated global modelling or similar sciences such as environmental sciences;
  • have experience in programming – preferably using python or r;
  • have knowledge of processes of biodiversity loss and global change;
  • have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and collaboration skills;
  • preferably have experience with interdisciplinary research and working with stakeholders;
  • can demonstrate English language proficiency at C1 level (CEFR or comparable to level 3 of the Lecturer Assessment Grid) or are prepared to obtain this level by training.


We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for one year in an international working environment. Permanent employment will be offered based upon good performance, according to the Faculty’s performance indicators, after one year. The gross salary – depending on previous qualifications and experience  – ranges between €2,960 and €4,670 (scale 10 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions 

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 (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University 

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About the organisation

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University 

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, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences 

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 studies the Earth: from the Earth’s core to its surface, including man’s spatial and material utilisation of the Earth – always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The Copernicus Institute 

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 is part of the Faculty of Geosciences. At the Copernicus Institute, our goal is to have a positive impact on the transition towards a sustainable future. The Copernicus Institute has had an excellent research evaluation in 2021 and the institute takes pride in maintaining its leading position in national and international sustainability research, and by developing new, internationally oriented teaching programmes.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact Professor S.C. Dekker 

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 (Chair Global Ecohydrology and Sustainability), via 

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Do you want to know more about the project Bending the Curve (WWF), please contact: Professor D.P. van Vuuren 

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

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the ‘apply’ button.

The application deadline is 15 September 2022.


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