HOURS PER WEEK: 28 to 40FACULTY: Faculty of GeosciencesDEPARTMENT: GEO / Dept SDAPPLICATION DEADLINE: 10 September 2023



Job description

The Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development is looking for an enthusiastic and highly motivated postdoctoral researcher to join our research team studying transitions to animal-free safety assessment. The position is advertised in close collaboration with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment 

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 (RIVM) and part of the Virtual Human Platform 

external link for safety assessment (VHP4Safety) project: a transdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder collaboration that aims to spearhead the transition from animal-based testing to innovative animal-free safety assessment by integrating innovations in data science, human tissue culture models and transition management.

As a postdoctoral researcher, you will conduct research on perspectives, values and visions of stakeholders regarding future safety assessment without the use of animals. You will play a crucial role in understanding how radical innovations, such as those developed in the VHP4Safety project, can contribute to making the transition to animal-free safety assessment a reality. Part of your research activities will consist of connecting stakeholders to ongoing project developments through a dedicated multi-stakeholder process and by utilising co-creation and futuring approaches. You can also develop your own action-oriented research ideas on transitions to animal-free safety assessment or related challenges in the life-sciences sector at the intersection of sustainability and health.

You will become part of an enthusiastic team of researchers working on animal-free safety assessment from an innovation and transition studies perspective at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The team is embedded in the larger VHP4Safety consortium consisting of leading scientific groups from Dutch universities, university medical centres, public health institutes and applied research organisations, with expertise spanning biological, chemical, medical, data and social sciences. A diverse group of regulatory, industrial and societal partners ensures stakeholder involvement throughout the entire safety assessment knowledge chain. The VHP4Safety research project is funded by the Dutch Research Council 

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 (NWO) ‘Dutch Research Agenda: Research on Routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC 1292.19.272)’.


In addition to contributing to high-quality and impactful research the position offers opportunities for further professional and competence development focused on transdisciplinary method development, network-building, coordination and teaching (10% of your time). The start date is expected to be between October 1 2023 and December 1 2023.

We are looking for candidates who have:

  • a PhD degree in the field of innovation studies, transition studies, risk governance or science and technology studies (STS), or alternatively a PhD degree in the life-sciences with proven interest in research on technology acceptance, implementation, management or policy; 
  • affinity with studying technology, innovation and transitions in the life-sciences domain;
  • expertise or proven interest in utilising co-creation methodologies, such as designathons, and in engaging with stakeholders in a collaborative process;
  • excellent written and oral communication skills external link in English;
  • the ability to work in a self-propelled manner in a large transdisciplinary project, including a contribution to the coordination of research activities;
  • affinity with qualitative research, coordination tasks, and stakeholder engagement. 


We offer a temporary position (0.8 – 1.0 FTE) for two and a half years in an international working environment. The gross salary – depending on previous qualifications and experience  – ranges between €3,720 and €4,332 (scale 10.3 – 10.7 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 

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, including an attractive retirement scheme, professional development 

external link, (partly paid) parental leave, sports external link and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University external link.

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 strategic themes 

external link. Our focus is on Pathways to Sustainability, Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, and Life Sciences. You can watch the Utrecht University Campus Tour external link to get an impression of our university. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow. external link

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 of Sustainable Development 

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 wants to have a positive impact on the transition to a sustainable society, which includes strengthening risk regulation regimes for chemicals and pharmaceuticals and reducing the need for the use of laboratory animals. We do this by developing excellent and relevant knowledge in interdisciplinary teams and by educating the change agents of the 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.

The Innovation Studies section 

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, in which you will be embedded, hosts a large group of tenured staff (over 23.0 FTE) as well as many PhD candidates, postdocs and junior lecturers. It is run by Professors Ellen Moors, Koen Frenken and Flor Avelino. The group culture is open, supportive and collaborative.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Jarno Hoekman 

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 (Associate Professor) at j.hoekman@uu.nl 

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Everyone deserves to feel at home 

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 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 10 September 2023.


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