PhD Researcher in land change monitoring for tree diversity

June 10, 2024
Location Wageningen
End date Mon 19 August 2024
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Your job

Are you a motivated and curious individual with a strong interest in remote sensing, plant ecology, land change monitoring, vegetation dynamics and tree diversity? Do you have an MSc degree in geo-information science, remote sensing, ecology, forestry, nature conservation, data science or a similar relevant field, and are you proficient in programming with R/Python and/or GEE? Then we have the perfect opportunity for you!

The Laboratory of Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing (GRS) and Plan Ecology and Nature Conservation Group at Wageningen University are jointly looking for an aspiring PhD to explore the potential of land change monitoring in understanding the causes and consequences of tree diversity changes. We start investigating the relationship between vegetation dynamics and the species composition of tree communities at a large scale using remote sensing, before assessing anthropogenic and natural drivers of tree species diversity, functional diversity and ecosystem resilience.

As a PhD researcher you will:

  • work together with an interdisciplinary team of experts in remote sensing, and plant ecology.
  • characterize vegetation dynamics in terms of abruptness, severity and persistence and link these with the composition and distribution of tree species at large scale.  
  • assess changes in land cover and vegetation dynamics as anthropogenic and natural drivers for tree species diversity.
  • investigate remote sensing methodologies for quantifying functional diversity based on traits such as leaf N content and specific leaf area.
  • investigate ecosystem stability and resilience using time series remote sensing.    
This research will contribute to a better understanding of ecosystem functioning and structure and can contribute to effective conservation and management of plant biodiversity.

You will work here
The research is hosted within the Laboratory for Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing (GRS) and Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation Group (PEN), and will be supervised by dr. Nandika Tsendbazar and dr. Fons van der Plas.  This PhD programme is also a part of PE & RC, a collaborative research and PhD training institute coordinated by Wageningen University (WU). The PhD programme is embedded in a coherent and productive research environment that aims to perform academic research of the highest quality. For more information, click here.

Your qualities

As a PhD researcher you must have:

  • a completed (or about to be obtained) MSc degree in geo-information science, remote sensing, ecology and forest/nature conservation, data science or a similar relevant field.
  • sound understanding of remote sensing;
  • sound understanding of ecology and biodiversity;
  • experience or strong interest in big geo data analysis;
  • proficiency in programming, preferably with R/Python and/or GEE;
  • excellent English language skills both written and spoken;
  • motivation, curiosity, and willingness to work in a highly dynamic team;
  • meet the entry requirements of English language for WUR PE&RC PhD programme.
This position is available from January 2025, with a duration of four years. Strong candidates that will graduate before September 2024 are encouraged to apply too.

We offer you

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

  • study leave, and 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.

Do you want more information?

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Nandika Tsendbazar, by email: nandin.tsendbazar@wur and Dr. Fons van der Plas , by email:  

For more information about the procedure, please contact Noorien Abbas, Corporate Recruiter, by

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly by uploading your CV and motivation letter using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website, which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.
This vacancy will be listed up to and including August 19th 2024. We aim to schedule the first job interviews in September 2024.

Additional information form
For this position, you must fill in a mandatory form which will allow us to have a comprehensive view of your qualifications and better assess your fit for it. You can access the form using the link below:   

Your prompt response will ensure that your application continues to move forward in the evaluation process. We assure you that the information provided will be kept confidential and used solely for this application process.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch the video below to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.