PhD Modelling spread of invasive forest pests

Gepubliceerd op
27 juli 2018
Locatie Wageningen
Expertisegebied Agriculture
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We are looking for

The project is formulated in the context of invasion biology and aims to understand the drivers of forest pest emergence and invasion. The candidate will identify key traits and climate and socio-economic drivers that drive forest pest invasions and to translate these drivers in generic models that can be used to investigate risk management options. Identification of key traits and drivers will be done through data mining followed by meta-analysis. The study requires mathematical/statistical skills and an ability to engage with other team members as well as professionals in the plant health field who are data owners. The suitable candidate therefore has knowledge on ecology, epidemiology or plant science, has a strong background (both theory and applications) in mathematical statistics and model fitting with likelihood methods, and (s)he has good communicative skills enabling him/her to engage with team members. Furthermore, the suitable candidate has strong project/time management skills enabling him/her to engage efficiently with team members, to deliver intermediate and end products. Contribution to teaching is welcomed.
The candidate will strengthen our work on spatial ecology, biomathematics and plant health economics by contributions to team meetings and collegial engagement within our team. We expect the candidate to aim for publication of results in high impact journals and to finalise a PhD thesis within four years.

We ask

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with the following qualifications:

  • A MSc degree in a relevant field, including: ecology, epidemiology and health.
  • Clear affinity with quantitative modelling techniques and statistical skills (preferably meta-analysis).
  • Good oral and written communication in English.

We offer

In principle this is a 4-year PhD position. We offer you a temporary contract for 1 year which will be extended with another three years if you perform well. Gross salary per month: from € 2266-, in the first year- up to € 2897,- in year 4 based on full time employment. A part time employment is also possible. The position preferably starts October but the starting date is negotiable.

More information

Additional information about this project can be obtained from Dr. Wopke van der Werf ( and Dr. Bob Douma (

Candidates that are selected for the interview stage will be asked to give a short presentation on research background and their views on the project.

You can apply up to and including September 9, 2018
Please upload your application (motivation letter and curriculum vitae) via the “apply” button on this website. Do not mail your application directly to the people mentioned above.


We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at the special career site.

The candidate will be placed in the Crop & Weed Ecology Group of Wageningen University, Plant Sciences. Within this group research is conducted on the ecology and management of crops, diseases, and weeds. We study plant form and adaptation, and ecological processes from plant to landscape scale that determine productivity, resource use efficiency and crop health. The PhD will contribute to the quantitative ecology theme of the group, and particularly to the area of spatial ecology.

The successful candidate will be part of a European consortium working on the project HOMED: HOlistic Management of Emerging Pests and Diseases. The aim of the project is to develop scientific knowledge and practical solutions for managing native and non-native pests and pathogens threatening European forests. Our group has the task to develop models that predict entry, establishment and spread of forest pests and pathogens. Those models are then used to assess the invasiveness of emerging pests and to investigate effectiveness of risk reduction options. The PhD student will collaborate in small core team of scientists at Wageningen University and INRA Station Zoologie Forestière in Orleans, France.