Postdoc in Environmental Science
Utrecht University

Postdoc Position in Environmental Science


Job description

Research on sustainable water use is essential because of water scarcity on a big scale. Our project is part of the National Geographic World Water Map. In many areas of the world, water resources are overexploited, leading to the depletion of water volumes in aquifers, reservoirs and rivers. This, in turn, leads to a greater pressure on the remaining water resources and more water scarcity in different sectors. Together with the National Geographic Society, we want to understand how we can turn the tide and go from unsustainable water use practices to a sustainable future.

In this position, you will contribute to our understanding of sustainable water use strategies by modelling the impact of unsustainable water use on different sectors. For selected hotspot regions (e.g. Central Valley California, Upper Indus) you will study what is needed to move from an unsustainable water use regime to sustainable solutions with a focus on sustainable groundwater use. Your model developments will be validated and tested against local observations and knowledge for different hotspot regions around the world in close collaboration with our consortium partners.

For a number of hotspot regions, you will perform further in-depth analyses that will be supported by high-resolution modelling of the combined surface water-groundwater system and outcomes with other modelling efforts by our project partners. You will focus on the application of the existing PCR-GLOBWB hydrology and water resources model that is developed in Utrecht and provides high-resolution groundwater-surface water simulations that include dynamic human water interactions (e.g. abstraction for irrigation, industry, households).

You will collaborate closely with team members at Utrecht University (the team leaders, a software support engineer, a PhD candidate and a number of MSc students) and the National Geographic Society.

To be considered for this position, you must have or be:
  • a PhD in earth sciences, hydrology, civil engineering, environmental science or a related field;
  • affinity with numerical modelling, preferably hydrological modelling or groundwater modelling;
  • prior knowledge in handling large scale (hydrological) datasets and enthusiastic about working with global large datasets and models;
  • interested in global water and sustainability challenges;
  • a team player;
  • excellent English oral and writing skills.


We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) initially for one year with an extension to three years upon a successful assessment in the first year. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between €2,960 and €4,670 (scale 10 of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.

In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

About the organization

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

Find out more about our university by watching the Utrecht University Campus Tour.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development. 

The Department of Physical Geography excels in research and education on BSc, MSc and PhD level. We research processes, patterns, and dynamics of Earth’s systems from the mountains to the sea, and the interaction in between. This knowledge is essential for the sustainable management of our planet and to guarantee the availability of resources for the next generations.

We are a lively department that hosts an active early career community (PhD candidates, young teachers, young lecturers). There are always a few guests among us as well as some student assistants. We organise a warm welcome for every new member. 

Additional information
For more information about this position please contact Dr. Niko Wanders (associate professor) at or Prof Marc Bierkens at


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. 

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation via the 'apply' button.

The first round of interviews will take place on 6 September 2023. The second round of interviews will take place on 11 September 2023. The first round of interviews can take place online (via MS Teams). The preferred starting date will be before 1 December 2023.

The application deadline is

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