NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

PhD position: “Future-proofing low trophic aquaculture systems with marine macrophytes”

2024-05-19 (Europe/Amsterdam)
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NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research is the National Oceanographic Institution of the Netherlands.

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The department of Estuarine and Delta Systems at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research (NIOZ) in Yerseke is looking for a highly motivated PhD student with a background in experimental (marine) biology/ecology and an interest in molecular ecology to investigate the prospects of using marine vegetation (e.g., seagrass, seaweeds) to improve the health of commercially important shellfish. The position advertised is part of the Delta Climate Center‘s Iconic Project “δelta Protein”.

The department of Estuarine and Delta Systems (EDS, NIOZ-Yerseke) aims at understanding how the interplay between organisms, hydrodynamics, sediment dynamics and chemistry shapes the estuarine and delta environment in the context of natural and human-induced environmental changes. An important focus of our research is how these abiotic-biotic interactions create value for society, following for example the “Building with Nature” paradigm or investigating sustainable sources of marine biomass for food. We do frontier applied science, meaning that we link fundamental understanding to societal usage. In doing so, we aim to actively support managers with the insights needed for ecosystem conservation, ecosystem restoration, and enhancing ecosystem services (e.g., creating nature-based flood defence, alternative sources of food, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, etc.) all in the face of global change and accelerating sea level rise.


The Delta Climate Center (DCC) in Vlissingen is a new and innovative knowledge center in the field of climate adaptation. It unites science and practice through a unique partnership between the knowledge institutions Scalda, HZ University of Applied Sciences, University College Roosevelt, NIOZ, Utrecht University, and Wageningen University & Research. The core question of the DCC is: how to advance the transition towards sustainable, climate-resilient, and prosperous deltas? With the Zeeland delta as its living lab, the DCC fosters innovative and impactful solutions for future-proof deltas worldwide. The “δelta Protein” project is the first transdisciplinary Iconic Project of the DCC, and involves all its partners and many stakeholders.


The advertised PhD student position at NIOZ in Yerseke and the DCC in Vlissingen is part of the transdisciplinary consortium “δelta Protein”. It will study how the transition from animal protein to low-trophic (e.g., shellfish, plant) protein-based diets can be facilitated. This will be done by exploring the conditions needed for this transition, as well as the challenges that need to be overcome and the opportunities that will arise, all within the province of Zeeland. The project covers legal, social, technical, ecological and implementation aspects. The PhD candidate is expected to actively collaborate with members of the “δelta Protein” consortium, as well as stakeholders from companies, governmental agencies, and NGOs. The appointed candidate will obtain a PhD degree from the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Groningen.


Within the “δelta Protein” project, novel insights are needed to facilitate the transition to a sustainable, climate change-resilient food system based on low trophic protein sources, cultivated in a nature-inclusive manner in the marine environment in Zeeland. The PhD candidate will use field and mesocosm-based experiments in combination with ecophysiological, molecular and microbial ecological approaches (incl. bioinformatics) to assess how seagrass and seaweed may improve the health of low trophic aquaculture (LTA) species (e.g. mussels, oysters) under future climate scenarios. This is an innovative nature-inclusive approach to develop future-proof, sustainable methods to produce healthier and higher quality seafood, and to improve seafood security, human health, and the environment.


Applicants should have a MSc degree in marine ecology, molecular / microbial ecology or related disciplines; and have experience or affinity with bioinformatics. The candidate enjoys conducting experiments both in mesocosms as in the field, performing molecular labwork, and applying data science approaches to analyse large multivariate datasets. Experience with or a keen interest in developing skills in bioinformatics are a big plus.

In this project, you will learn and apply state-of-the-art analytical techniques and research concepts to cross scientific boundaries. Excellent communication skills and an open collaborative attitude are essential for the success of the project. You will work in a transdisciplinary research environment; a very good command of spoken and written English is essential. Because of interactions with regional stakeholders, a good command of Dutch will be a plus; Dutch language courses will be offered to the appointed candidate through the NIOZ Academy - for personal and professional development.

NIOZ is a transparent institute with a healthy working climate and an inclusive culture, where people from diverse backgrounds and gender bring their talents and further develop these talents. We aim for inclusive decision-making processes and expect our leadership to show visible commitment, awareness of bias, and cultural intelligence.


  • Employment of this full-time position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO-I, for a total duration of 4 years.  You start with an appointment for the duration of 1 year, that, after a positive evaluation in the 9th month (Go-No go), will be extended to the full period of 4 years.
  • Salary compliant with scales for PhD candidate (OIOs) CAO-WVOI (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes). 
  • An appointment at NIOZ as a PhD candidate means working and learning simultaneously conform the NIOZ PhD policy.  
  • 338 annualized holiday hours for a full-time 40-hour work week.
  • Pension scheme via ABP, 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.33%. 
  • 2nd class public transportation travel is reimbursed 100%.
  • Employment benefits plan to exchange a portion of your salary for days off or vice versa, or can be used to purchase a bicycle with tax benefits.
  • We offer relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation. Yerseke is located on commuting distance from major cities such as Antwerpen, Breda, Bergen op Zoom and Middelburg.

For additional information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Jeroen van de Water or Prof. Dr. Klaas Timmermans. For additional information about the procedure, please send an e-mail to

Closing date for this vacancy is 19 May 2024

We aim to invite suitable candidates for an interview on May 27st.  

Job details

PhD position: “Future-proofing low trophic aquaculture systems with marine macrophytes”
Landsdiep 4 Den Helder, Netherlands
Application deadline
2024-05-19 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam)
2024-05-19 23:59 (CET)
Job type
Save job

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About the employer

NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research is the National Oceanographic Institution of the Netherlands.

Visit the employer page

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