PhD Candidate
Resilience of water-plant-soil system in prolonged drought events


  • HOURS40 hr.
  • SALARY INDICATION€ 2,541 – € 3,247
  • DEADLINE31 Aug 2022

The extreme droughts of 2018-2020 in the Netherlands caused great social distress and huge economic damages. The drought-related damage in 2018 was estimated between 900 and 1,650 million Euro. Scientific knowledge can help to mitigate such adverse effects, if we integrate advanced drought knowledge and data, including satellite data, field observations and modelling, to study the water/carbon/nutrient use and the response of agriculture and nature systems to drought events.

You are expected to address the abovementioned challenges and develop improved formulations, thereby making extensive use of field observations and remote sensing data. You  will focus on understanding how the water-soil-plant dynamics vary with environmental and climate stress, by coupling the vegetation photosynthetic activities to soil water and heat dynamics considering dynamic root growth and synergized with satellite data. You will be encouraged to use our state-of-the-art modelling systems (STEMMUS-SCOPE). The existing modelling system will be extended with modules for plant growths and response of vegetation to drought conditions, and validated against field measurements and remote sensing observations (e.g., existing data products from VanderSat). Furthermore, you are expected to develop two emulated versions of STEMMUS-SCOPE with the physics-informed machine learning approaches, and closely working with VanderSat/Planet to explore the commercial potential of applying the emulated STEMMUS-SCOPE for producing operational data products. To add momentum to the collaboration with VanderSat/Planet, most of the research will be done while working from the VanderSat office in Haarlem.



  • An MSc degree in soil science, ecohydrology, remote sensing, computer science, geosciences or a related field;
  • A strong background in Earth system science, process-based (soil/biogeochemical) modelling, numerical methods, artificial intelligence, machine learning and remote sensing;
  • Strong skills in scientific programming (e.g., in Matlab, Python);
  • Demonstrated scientific creativity that has preferably resulted in scientific publications;
  • Excellent communication skills and English language proficiency, and like to communicate your research to a broader audience;
  • An open mind towards applying open science principles;
  • An affinity with a multi-cultural education environment, excellent work ethics and commitment to the job.


We offer you an inspiring multidisciplinary and challenging international and academic environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalisation is an important part of the strategic agenda. You will be employed on a fulltime basis for 4 years, with a qualifier in the first year. Salary and conditions will be in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement (CAO-NU) of the Dutch Universities.

  • A starting salary of € 2,541.- in the first year and a salary of € 3,247.- in the fourth year gross per month;
  • Tailor-made educational/development programme of at least 6 months (30EC), including visits to conferences;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • A total of 41 holiday days in case of full-time employment;
  • Professional and personal development programmes;
  • Costs for moving to Enschede may be reimbursed.


For more information, you can contact Prof Dr Bob Su  (email: or Dr Yijian Zeng (email: You are also invited to visit our homepage.

Please submit your application before 1 September 2022 (choose “apply here” below). Your application should include:

  • A cover letter (maximum 1 page A4), emphasizing your specific interest, qualifications and motivations to apply for this position.
  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • Two references

Interviews are scheduled to take place between 7 – 15 September 2022.

The University of Twente wants to be an organisation that optimally deploys diversity, talents and capabilities in the labour market for now and the future. In the framework of our diversity and inclusiveness policy, we strongly stimulate people with a (work) disability to apply for this position.


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