PhD Position Understanding the Ecophysiological Controls of Biological N2O Emissions

Research / Academic

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a potent greenhouse gas almost 300 times stronger than CO2. Globally, the majority of N2O originates from biological conversions in natural and engineered ecosystems. Despite decades of research, the environmental conditions controlling the underlying microbiology remain largely unknown.
This PhD project aims to advance our fundamental understanding of biological N2O formation as a basis for robust emission mitigation strategies. You will run parallel bio-reactors to enrich for nitrogen transforming communities, and understand how they assemble and function under highly-controlled non-axenic conditions. Cutting-edge meta-omics approaches, including metagenomics and metaproteomics, will be employed to resolve the function of each community member and their metabolic interactions in dynamic environments. Special emphasis will be given to as-of-yet overlooked processes and metabolic nitrogen intermediates.
The project bridges the Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Biotechnology groups at TU Delft. You will be directly supervised by Michele Laureni, Jules van Lier and Mark van Loosdrecht, with ample freedom to explore your own curiosity.


For a good candidate you will have the following 'Need-to-haves':

  • MSc in Chemical/Environmental Engineering, Microbiology or Bioinformatics
  • Demonstrable background and strong interest in biological processes and biotechnologies
  • Independent, self-motivated, curiosity-driven mind, open to communicate and collaborate with peers and partners
  • A scientific attitude and analytical skills combined with a hands-on mentality
  • Laboratory experience proven by lab courses, internships or other previous work.
  • Excellent spoken and written English

and hopefully the following 'Nice-to-haves':

  • Experience in design and/or operation of lab-scale bio-reactors proven by previous practical or research projects
  • Experience in metagenomics and metaproteomics, including wet-lab and bioinformatic pipelines, proven by previous research projects
  • Linux, R, Python programming skills

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Salary Benefits:

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.
Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.
The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 
For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

Work Hours:

32 - 38 hours per week


Mekelweg 2