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PhD Position: Modelling coastal pathogens

Coral reef

Do you have a background in ecosystem modelling? Would you like to study the dynamics of coastal pathogens and find out how models can help to reduce human health risks by coastal pathogens due to climate change? Do you get energy from working in an international and multidisciplinary team in a European project? Apply for this vacancy and start your PhD research.

Job description

Bacterial and viral pathogens in coastal waters pose threats to health for different users – including occupational and recreational risks for activities in coastal waters. Under conditions of climate change, these risks may increase for various reasons: Increasing water temperatures are likely to influence the survival rate of bacteria and viruses and the dominance of certain strains of bacteria, including antimicrobial resistant strains. Human exposure to pathogens in coastal waters may also change due to an increase in recreational activities. Moreover, changes in precipitation due to climate change are also expected to affect the inputs of viruses and bacteria into our coasts.

BlueAdapt, a new project funded by the Horizon Europe programme, attempts to provide an evidence base for innovation and action around coastal pathogens. It focuses on reducing climate-based health risks in blue environments: adapting to the climate change impacts on coastal pathogens. BlueAdapt brings together an interdisciplinary team of biologists, climate scientists, economists, epidemiologists and public health experts to investigate and quantify the future health risks associated with viral and microbial coastal pathogens in Europe.

Deltares recruits two PhD candidates, who will work together in the BlueAdapt project: one focussing on laboratory and field experiments and one focussing on modelling to explain how pathogens behave in coastal environments and how they will respond to climate change. The latter PhD candidate will analyse the dynamics of coastal pathogens through modelling and analysis of field data. Field and laboratory findings from the other PhD candidate will support parameterization of the models. Model simulations will also be used to collaborate with local stakeholders to find innovative solutions to reduce human health risks, including early warning tools.

Your duties

As a PhD candidate in this project you will:

  • Analyze environmental and pathogen data;
  • Develop model formulations for coastal pathogens in collaboration with other BlueAdapt PhD candidate (microbial ecology);
  • Contribute to ecosystem understanding based on field and laboratory data (by others) and modelling;
  • Develop and validate models on fate and transport of coastal pathogens;
  • Use the models to simulate potential impacts of climate change;
  • Discuss model results and potential mitigating measures with stakeholders;
  • Participate in the relevant activities of the BlueAdapt consortium and your departments at Deltares and TU Delft;
  • Contribute to the Deltares deliverables of the BlueAdapt project;
  • Publish the results of your doctoral research in the form of conference papers, scientific journal articles, symposia and others; and
  • Complete a PhD thesis based on published scientific articles.


  • MSc degree in oceanography, limnology, marine biology or related field;
  • Experience in ecosystem modelling is a must;
  • Enthusiasm for building ecosystem understanding based on models;
  • Technical skills to work with large datasets using scripts (R, Phython, matlab etc.);
  • Affinity with microbiology;
  • Excellent English communication skills, written and oral;
  • Enthusiasm for collaborating with a larger team of researchers and stakeholders with diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

What we offer

  • Supervision by a multidisciplinary team, consisting of Dr Anouk Blauw (Deltares), Dr Ir Eline Boelee (Deltares) and Prof. Dr Gertjan Medema (TU Delft);
  • You will be employed at Deltares and based at Deltares and TU Delft;
  • Excellent training and personal development opportunities, in collaboration with TU Delft;
  • The gross salary will be in line with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU);
  • Diverse and inclusive working environment.


Are you interested in this position and do you fit the qualifications? Then apply directly by uploading your CV and a letter outlining your motivation. Deadline July 10.
If you have any questions about the vacancy you can contact Brian de Bruin (HR Recruitment Officer;; +31615267686).

Deltares is an inclusive employer. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming colleagues from diverse backgrounds enhances the quality of our research and organization. We welcome people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

Apply here!

Source: Deltares

Date: June 24 2022