Postdoc position:position in trait-based ecology 2.0 of harmful cyanobacteria

Location: Wageningen
Max hours per week: 38.00
Max salary: €4,670.00
Duration of agreement: 3 years
Apply until: 02/15/2023


What you will be doing

Scarcity of clean and healthy water is among the biggest societal challenges for the 21st century. The quantity and quality of surface waters are declining at a high rate by increased societal demands and global environmental change. Notably, eutrophication may lead to harmful cyanobacterial blooms, which are expected to be further promoted by elevated pCO2 and warming. Although studies focussing on individual global change factors are relatively common, studies on combined stressors on harmful cyanobacterial blooms are remarkably rare. Importantly, harmful cyanobacteria produce toxins, which are the major cause of their threat to human health. We currently lack a mechanistic understanding on key indicators of bloom toxicity, and their response to the complex interplay of multiple global change factors.

Trait-based ecology approaches can provide a mechanistic understanding on the impacts of environmental factors on community and population dynamics. This project is aimed at developing a high throughput pipeline using FACS flow-cytometry to rapidly assess a wide range of cyanobacterial traits.


What you will be contributing

The specific aims of this project are to 1) develop a novel flowcytometry based pipeline or the rapid detection of a multitude of traits, and 2) assess whether consistent responses of these traits to environmental factors can be used to develop physiological fingerprints of both experimental and natural communities.


Tasks in this project will mainly involve setting up a bioinformatics pipeline for flow-cytometry data and apply this on samples from natural and experimental systems in close collaboration with other members of the project team. Using the FACS sorter, methods can also be combined with genomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic data analysis of sorted samples, and associated data flows. The extent of involvement in sample analysis, field work and experiments will depend on the candidate’s expertise and interest. There will be support provided for all indicated aspects of this position, specifically including flow-cytometry and bioinformatics.


Job requirements:

  • Holding a PhD with a background in phytoplankton ecology, microbiology, or related fields.
  • Affinity with microbial or phytoplankton ecology and/or trait-based ecology.
  • Experience with analyzing large datasets, and interested in (learning to) setting up a bioinformatics pipeline (similar to -omics approaches).
  • Strong intrinsic motivation for doing science, a natural curiosity, and the ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Professional working proficiency in English, including scientific writing.


What we are offering

We offer ample opportunities for personal development through mentoring, training programs, and courses. Because this project is part of a larger group, we also can offer various opportunities for collaboration. Moreover, the project includes funds for conference visits.


Your workplace

This project will be performed within the Department of Aquatic Ecology of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), located in Wageningen, the Netherlands, with supervision by Prof. dr. Dedmer van de Waal. The Department of Aquatic Ecology at NIOO-KNAW is a dynamic, diverse and respectful group of enthusiastic aquatic ecologists, with ample opportunity to socially and scientifically interact. 


For more information

Please contact: Dedmer van de Waal, Senior Researcher,, +31(0)317 473 553.



In your application, in English, please include a cover letter indicating your motivation and relevant experience, a CV, and 1-3 professional referees (name, address, telephone & email). Deadline for applications is 15 February 2023. 


About NIOO
The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is a top research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). NIOO-KNAW focuses on fundamental and strategic research on individual organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems.


Terms of employment
Depending on education and experience the minimum salary is €3,557.00 and the maximum salary is €4,670.00 gross per month for a full-time appointment (scale 10 cao Nederlandse Universiteiten/KNAW). This is exclusive of 8% vacation allowance, 8.3% year-end bonus, travel allowance, internet allowance, home working allowance and pension accrual with ABP.

The KNAW offers its staff an excellent package of secondary benefits. A package that meets the different needs of employees depending on their stage of life, lifestyle or career ambitions. For example, by working an extra two hours a week, it is possible to increase the number of days off from 29 to 41 days a year (with full-time employment).  

For a complete overview of the terms of employment, please refer to the web page: werken bij de KNAW.


Diversity & Inclusion
The KNAW considers a working environment in which everyone feels welcome and appreciated of great importance. A working environment in which attention is paid to individual quality and where development opportunities are paramount. Together we strive for an inclusive culture in which we embrace differences. We would therefore like to invite candidates who want to contribute to this through their background and experience. In the event of equal suitability, preference will be given to the candidate who thus enhances diversity within the Academy.

We will not respond to any supplier enquiries based on this job advertisement.