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Vacancy – PhD Climate change & Vector borne disease | The role of bird reservoirs

climate change

Job vacancies | The Pandemic Disaster & Preparedness Center in Rotterdam located Erasmus MC is looking for a phd student on climate change and vector borne diseases, the role of bird migration.

Job description

Are humans more likely to get mosquito transmitted diseases in the near future when cities in the Netherlands will grow, wetlands will become more saline and the climate will change?

Join our project as a PhD student to answer these questions. You will explore how projected wetland development and salinization in the Netherlands will change the likelihood of transmission of arboviral infections by birds from the wetlands to the nearby cities. By following individual animals equipped with tracking devices you will describe and quantify current changes in use of cities by wild birds. With historical abundance data you will reconstruct past responses of bird population to wetland developments. Additionally, you will work in the lab to detect novel and existing arboviruses and develop a new approach to monitor connectedness through analysis of virus phylogenies.

Work environment

Erasmus MC, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam have joined forces in the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC). PDPC aims to prepare society for future pandemics and disasters. We will reduce vulnerabilities and risks and build resilience through effective disaster prevention, preparedness and recovery measures. Convergence of the technical, medical and social sciences is essential for developing the next generation of approaches to disasters and pandemics. In the foreseeable future, our society can expect many more and unforeseen virus outbreaks and extreme events because of climate change. But how do we protect society from the next pandemic or disaster? Which of the lessons learnt could develop prevention and intervention measures, and how could research contribute to preparedness?

The combination of water-rich landscapes, (exotic) mosquitoes, high numbers of (migrating) birds, international trade and travel and high population density makes the low-lying delta in the Netherlands vulnerable to future outbreaks of vector borne diseases. In addition, climate change and climate change mitigation measures will likely result in changing mosquito, reservoir host and virus ecology. Rapid sea level rise is a threat resulting from climatic change as it will cause increasing salinization of coastal areas with large expected impacts on biodiversity and land use. Moreover, subsequent changes in water management are expected to affect mosquitoes and birds. In this frontrunner project on Climate Change & Vector Borne Diseases, 3 PhD students will work with a large team of senior researchers across a range of disciplines including environmental sciences, epidemiology, ecology, virology, climate science, ornithology and veterinary sciences, to study the effects of climate change and salinization on vector borne diseases.

You will be working at the Viroscience Department of the Erasmus Medical Centre as well as the Department of Theoretical and Computational Ecology (TCE), Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics at the University of Amsterdam. The Viroscience department is an international centre of excellence for multidisciplinary, basic, translational and clinical research of viruses and virus infections at the molecular, patient and population level. TCE movement ecology group has unique expertise in animal tracking and statistical modelling. You will work closely together with two other PhD students in this project, that will focus on mosquito ecology (LU; WUR) and future scenarios of land use, water management and hydrology (TU Delft). You will be employed by Erasmus MC, and partly based at the UvA. You will be supervised by Marion Koopmans (ErasmusMC), Reina Sikkema (Erasmus MC) and Eldar Rakhimberdiev (UvA).

Qualifications and skills

  • MSc degree (MSc) in ecology, biology, biomedical sciences, or a related field;
  • Knowledge of R and/or Python, experience in statistical modelling;
  • Experience in disease epidemiology, molecular biology and/or pathogen diagnostics;
  • Willingness to work in the field and in the lab as well as to develop and apply new computational approaches;
  • Interest in infectious diseases and animal ecology;
  • Good social and communication skills;
  • excellent report writing and presentation skills;
  • Inquisitive, reflective and eager to grow;
  • Excellent command of the English language.

We expect dedication and enthusiasm for innovative research, combined with scientific curiosity and the capacity for teamwork in an interdisciplinary environment.

Before you apply please check Erasmus MC’s conditions for employment.

Terms of employment

You will receive a temporary position for 4 years. The gross monthly salary is € 2.631 ,- in the 1st year and increases to € 3.336,- in the 4th year (scale OIO).

  • Excellent fringe benefits, such as a 13th month that is already paid out in November and an individual travel expense package.
  • Pension insurance with ABP, we take care of approximately 2/3 of the monthly contribution.
  • Special benefits, such as an in-company physiotherapist and bicycle repairer. There is also a gym where you can work on your fitness after work.

More information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Reina Sikkema, workgroup leader, phone number: 010-704 4066 or e-mail:

To apply, please submit the mandatory documents on the Erasmus MC Werkenbij website by September 30, 2022.

If you are excited by the thought of this position and would like to apply, please do so by using the application form on our website.

No agencies please.

Check this vacancy on the Erasmus MC website.

Bron: convergence

Datum: 5 september 2022