Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences

Assistant professor in Benthic Ecology

Faculty of Science – Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Publication date
15 March 2017
Level of education
Salary indication
€3,427 to €5,330 gross per month
Closing date
23 April 2017
38 hours per week
Vacancy number


The mission of the new Department of Freshwater & Marine Ecology (FAME) is to increase our understanding of the biodiversity and dynamics of freshwater and marine ecosystems. Our aim is to unravel how aquatic ecosystems function in all their complexity, and how they change due to natural processes and human activities. The focus lies on the interactions between aquatic organisms and their abiotic environment. Research includes both benthic (coral reefs, aquatic sediments) and pelagic ecosystems (plankton), with a strong emphasis on those organisms that play a key role in primary production and biogeochemical cycles (i.e., bacteria, phytoplankton, benthic invertebrates, pteropods, corals, sponges).

This research commitment is paralleled by a similar commitment in teaching: we wish to train students at all levels to follow fundamental and sound scientific approaches in order to understand the functioning of aquatic ecosystems and to solve complex water problems.

The organization of the FAME department is structured around 5 research themes: aquatic environmental chemistry & ecotoxicology, benthic ecology, microbial ecology, plankton ecology, coral reef ecology.

To strengthen specifically the benthic ecology theme, we are looking for an enthusiastic and outstanding new Assistant Professor, who wants to make leading contributions to the research and teaching program of the Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology.

Job description

FAME - Benthic Ecology research theme

In this research theme, we study the structure and functioning of biological communities at the sediment-water interface in both shallow freshwater and marine ecosystems. At this interface a multitude of biological, chemical and physical processes take place that sustain and modify benthic life consisting of consortia of bacteria, algae, invertebrates, and macrophytes. Individuals, populations and multi-trophic consortia depend on and adapt to a wide variety of abiotic processes, such as sedimentation and resuspension of particles or diffusion of gases and solutes (e.g., oxygen, methane, P, N and Si). In turn, benthic organisms modify these physical and chemical processes through their own activities. Moreover, benthic life is strongly coupled to the pelagic system and thereby to ecological functioning of aquatic ecosystems at larger spatial and temporal scales. Special attention is given to the progressively increasing worldwide anthropogenic disturbances causing a shift of species to new, environmentally defined boundaries. The benthic environment is highly susceptible to a large variety of human stressors in terms of e.g. nutrients, contaminants or silt. To what extent this leads to changes in benthic community composition and ecosystem functioning depends critically on the ability of each species to cope with a changing environment.
Our research approach is based on gaining fundamental insight in drivers and on quantification of processes. Often it involves fieldwork combined with an experimental analysis, and is carried out in systems ranging from freshwater agricultural ditches and shallow lakes to estuaries, tropical seagrass beds and mangrove lagoons


The department has a major contribution in the BSc program Biology (i.e. BSc courses in Aquatic Ecology, Marine Biology, Microbial Ecology) and related BSc programs (BSc Future Planet Studies, BSc Chemistry) and has full responsibility for the MSc track Freshwater & Marine Biology  (formerly known as Limnology & Oceanography), which includes courses in Aquatic Ecological Water Management; Ecotoxicology and Water Quality. Our teaching is research based in which scientific theory is implemented and applied in lectures, practical (field) assignments and individual research projects. Following shifts in the societal, educational and scientific domains, changes in the curricula of the different programs as well as in teaching paradigms are foreseen, to adapt our teaching to educate future generations of students.


We search for staff member whose research will focus on interactions between biological, chemical- and physical processes in both marine and freshwater benthic systems and whose research expertise is complementary to that of other staff members in the group.  The assistant professor is a specialist in productivity and trophic structure of benthic ecosystems and how these are driven by element cycles across the sediment-water interface. The candidate has experience in experimental studies, e.g., of functional responses of aquatic communities to (natural and human induced) stressors.  The assistant professor is foreseen to play an important role in the collaboration of FAME with other departments within IBED, in particular in such areas as water-soil interfaces, nutrient cycles, or population and community ecology.  In addition, the assistant professor should be an inspiring and stimulating teacher for both bachelor and master students, with a clear vision on quality, style and development of education and an open attitude towards integrating diverse teaching methods, being competent to steer (student) researchers at different stages of their career from BSc to PhD.

The candidate:

  • has a PhD in Aquatic Ecology or Freshwater/Marine Biology and at least three years of postdoctoral research experience, preferably on the interdisciplinary field of sediment biogeochemistry, ecology, ecosystem functioning, or stress-ecology in freshwater or marine systems;
  • has proven experience with experimental work in the field and/or the laboratory,  and with chemical analyses (stable isotopes, nutrient-fluxes) or data-analysis (foodweb analyses, multi-stress effect analyses);
  • has an good publication record in peer-reviewed international journals;
  • has a keen interest to combine fundamental research with relevant applications;
  • has supervised MSc and PhD candidates, or a teaching record at the Bachelor and Master level;
  • is in possession of the Dutch Basic Teaching Qualification (BKO, or foreign equivalent) or willing to obtain this qualification at short notice;
  • is fluent in English and Dutch;
  • has a driving license.

The candidate preferably also:

  • has a demonstrated ability to foster research collaborations with other scientists at the national and international level, or
  • considers teaching equally important as research;
  • has a clear vision on education and is willing to design courses (specifically in constructive alignments);
  • has the willingness to contribute to the organization of the research department and of IBED;
  • has experience in acquiring research funding from external sources (e.g. Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, EU, or other (inter)national research councils) and to manage research projects;
  • has a diving certificate.

Further information

For questions about this vacancy:

  • prof. W.P. (Pim) de Voogt
    T: +31 (0)20 525 6565

For questions about the application procedure:

  • P. (Pascale) Thiery, IBED Secertariat
    T: +31 (0)20 525 6021


The vacancy is a tenure track position starting with a temporary appointment as Assistant Professor for a period of six years. At the start, an advance agreement will be signed between the university and the candidate, specifying the tenure-track requirements that need to be fulfilled in five years including a promotion. The requirements in the tenure track agreement are negotiable and depend on experience and scientific profile of the selected candidate. After these five years, the tenure-track position will become a permanent position, provided that the candidate has been successful in the requirements of the tenure track agreement. If not the appointment will end after six years. The gross monthly salary of the assistant professor position (UD 2/UD 1) will be in accordance with the University regulations for academic personnel and will range from €3,427 up to a maximum of €5,330 (salary scale 11/12), based on a full-time appointment and depending on qualifications and on the number of years of professional experience.  The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities is applicable. There are also secondary benefits, such as 8% holiday allowance per year and the end of year allowance of 8.3%.

Job application

Applications should be sent before Monday 24 April 2017 to application-science@uva.nl. Please quote vacancy number 17-116 in the subject field.

Applications should include:

  • a letter of motivation (max. 1 page);
  • a detailed CV, including list of publications and teaching experience;
  • a research statement (max. 2 pages);
  • a teaching statement (max. 1 page);
  • the names and contact addresses of two references from different institutes, from whom information about the candidate can be obtained.

Please combine all these items into a single PDF file of manageable size.

Interviews, possibly via Skype, will be held in on Wednesday 10 May and the second round will be at Monday 22 May.

No agencies please

Published by  University of Amsterdam