PhD in decision support system for designing transition pathways towards circular hospitals

Research / Academic

Would you like to contribute to making a more sustainable healthcare system? Are you passionate about steering and guiding the transition towards circular hospitals? Do you have a strong interest in developing and applying model-based decision support system for designing circular material management? If that's the case, an exciting PhD opportunity is waiting for you!

What are you going to do?

Hospitals are responsible for keeping local people healthy, but unfortunately this is fulfilled at a cost of environmental impact and hazards beyond the hospital. Their current operation and resource management practice result in excessive use of raw materials, generation of waste(water), and induces greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental hazards in the associated medical supply chain around the world. In The Netherlands, the health care sector is accounted for 7% of national emissions and 13% of national footprint of material extraction.

EU and the Dutch government have called for a more sustainable and circular healthcare system. The healthcare professionals have also started pursuing a more sustainable material use and waste management in their systems. However, hospitals are dealing with a large variety of different (single use) medical consumables and transition of the entire sector will take decades. Moreover, circularity-based interventions may potentially compromise the hygiene and bring risk to patients and workers. A comprehensive technical-economic-environmental assessment of all potential circularity interventions and their trade-offs is required to prioritize actions and a decision-making framework is needed to design a dynamic and adaptive transition pathway towards circular hospitals.

To guide and aid the transition towards circular hospitals, the urban system engineering (USE) team, part of the Environmental Technology group (ETE) from Wageningen University, is looking for a motivated PhD candidate to join our interdisciplinary research project focused on “developing decision support system for designing transition pathways towards circular hospitals”. The project belongs to a large research consortium “ESCH-R” (Evidence-based Strategies to create Circular Hospitals: Applying the 10-Rs framework to healthcare).

Your duties and responsibilities include:

  • to establish a novel design toolbox which embeds all crucial interventions and their trade-offs to aid a successful transition towards a circular hospital;
  • to advise on how a transition towards circular hospitals could and should take place over time in a sustainable, safe and feasible manner;
  • to iteratively develop, test and validate the toolbox and transition pathways with stakeholders from Dutch hospitals and their supply chains;
  • publish the research findings, the toolbox and the transition pathway map in leading international academic journals and platforms, and communicate across disciplines, project partners and stakeholders;
  • participate in the supervision of MSc and BSc thesis research and in the relevant teaching activities;
  • become a team player and integral part within the urban system engineering team and contribute to our team cohesion.


  • you have an MSc degree in environmental sciences, environmental technology/engineering, environmental management, chemical engineering, bio-based sciences, or a related field from an internationally recognized two year master program taught in English or provide a recent English Proficiency Test IELTS of 7.0 (scores of at least 6.5 in all sections) or TOEFL of 100 (scores of at least 2.1 for all sections);
  • you have knowledge of the technologies for treatment and/or management of (single use) commodities, preferably related to healthcare sectors;
  • you have skills and experience with quantitative modeling, data analysis or decision support system in common programming language (e.g., R, Python or Julia);
  • knowledge and proven experience with sustainability assessment (e.g., life cycle assessment) and/or operational research (e.g., mathematical optimization) is a strong plus;
  • you are able to think in and work with multidisciplinary research approaches;
  • you have proven relevant academic research experience, for example as part of a MSc- or BSc-thesis;
  • you have affinity with working as a team player, proactive in your work, involved actively in your working environment and capable of independently addressing and solving research problems.

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.

Salary Benefits:

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.770 - per month rising to € 3.539,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 19th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about for example helping your partner to find a job, housing, or schooling.

Finally, certain categories of international staff may be eligible for a tax exemption on a part of their salary during the first five years in the Netherlands.

Work Hours:

38 hours per week