ESR 3 advert

PhD scholarship in Soil Quality Indicators, establishing an operational definition of soil quality.

ESR 3, 4 years starting 01 July 2012 to 30 June 2016

Department of Microbial Ecology, CEES, University of Groningen
Nijenborgh 7, 9747AG Groningen, The Netherlands

PhD position Soil Microbial Ecology

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 27,000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is truly an international place of knowledge. The department of Microbial Ecology is part of the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies (CEES) and is housed in the brand-new Life Sciences building on the Zernike campus.

Job description
Project ESR3 will search for, and establish, a set of indicators for soil quality (health) . Briefly, we will build upon our vast experience with the characterization of soil microbial communities that are key to functioning, and then single out those that are determinative for soil quality, allowing the design of indicators (which will be molecular in nature). We will then validate such indicators across a range of soils under varying conditions of health and stress.

The PhD position is in the department of Microbial Ecology, in the team of Prof. dr. Jan Dirk van Elsas. The work is part of a Marie Curie FP7 ITN funded project which aims at the establishment of a quantitative index of soil quality based on bioindicators by establishing an operational definition of soil quality. In the project, bioindicators will be based on abundance and activity of soil microorganisms and, moreover, the concept of a minimal resilient community will be tested as a bioindicator.

Candidates should have a Master’s degree or equivalent in a Life Sciences discipline (Biology, Biochemistry, Biophysics etc). Previous laboratory experience as part of the degree or otherwise is essential. Fluency in English (both spoken and written), proactive communication and problem solving as part of a team, strong record keeping, a great work ethic, and initiative are essential characteristics.

Conditions of employment
The University of Groningen offers a salary of € 2042,-- gross per month in the first year up to a maximum of € 2612,-- gross per month in the final year. First you will get a temporary position of 1.5 years with the perspective of prolongation with another 2.5 years. After the first year, there will be an evaluation on the perspectives of the successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years. If these perspectives are poor, the contract may not be renewed. A PhD training program is part of the agreement and you will be enrolled in the universities' Graduate School of Science.

Eligibility criteria of Marie Curie Initial Training Networks apply. Only applicants who comply with these conditions will be considered. Details can be found on

The call is open. Deadline for submission: 05/04/2012. The post is expected to commence no later than 01-07-2012.
Letters in the English language, including a signed letter of intent outlining motivation (important), Curriculum vitae, and the names and addresses of three referees (including telephone number and E-mail address). To apply, please visit job opportunities at the University of Groningen (

Additional information
For information you can contact: Dr Joana Falcão Salles,
Phone: +31 (0) 50 363 2162 | Email: