PhD position available

The Department of Water Resources (WRS) of the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) at the University of Twente is a multidisciplinary scientific department specialising in the understanding, monitoring, predicting and sustainable use and management of water resources. The mission of WRS is to develop and transfer knowledge of geo-information science and earth observation for water resources management and hydrology. This mission is realised by providing higher academic education (at PhD and MSc degree level) and professional training (short courses), as well as by executing fundamental and applied research in earth observation of water resources and related environmental issues.

The challenge

The researcher will work on the development of new techniques to measure photosynthesis from space by detecting vegetation fluorescence emitted from plant leaves. Thanks to improvements in the accuracy and resolution of optical spectrometers, it is possible to detect subtle variations in the reflected and emitted light of vegetation. From these variations, conclusions can be drawn about the health, stress and growth of vegetation. The relationship between the variations in emitted and reflected radiation and photosynthesis will be studied in the laboratory, in the field and beyond using satellite data, both experimentally and by numerical modeling. The research is carried out in collaboration with other national and international scientists.

Target of the project

To improve the understanding of and to quantify the relations between (water)-stress induced variations in optical reflectance, chlorophyll fluorescence and photosynthesis.

Main Tasks

  • Systematic analysis of laboratory, field and satellite data of plant physiological variables and spectrometry;
  • Development and validation of modeling tools for vegetation reflectance, fluorescence and photosynthesis;
  • Participation in laboratory and field experiments;
  • Publication of a minimum of three scientific papers and a PhD dissertation and presentation of results at conferences.


The PhD candidate will be based at the Faculty ITC of the University of Twente. He/she will be supervised by Dr. C. van der Tol and Prof. Dr. W. Verhoef. It is envisaged that for several months the candidate can be hosted at the Carnegy Institute for Global Ecology in Stanford, USA, in the laboratory of Dr. J. Berry.

Our offer

We offer an inspiring and challenging international and academic environment. The successful candidate will be employed for a period of four years. Salary and conditions are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) of the Dutch Universities. The gross monthly salary ranges from € 2,062 to € 2,638 exclusive of allowances in accordance with the job profile Promovendus, under the University System for Job Classification (UJC).

Your profile

The candidate must hold an MSc degree. Familiarity with at least one programming language (e.g. IDL, MATLAB, R, Octave, Fortran or C) and numerical modeling is desired. The required background for this position is an exact education in plant physiology, (applied) physics, or earth sciences. We prefer candidates with expertise in measurement techniques in these fields. The candidate is fluent in English, and prepared for open collaboration with colleagues.

Additional information can be obtained from Dr. C. van der Tol, Associate Professor at the Water Resouces Department (e-mail: are also invited to visit our homepage:

Interested candidates are invited to send the application, detailed curriculum and a letter elaborating the motivation for the application before 19 October 2013. Please locate this vacancy on and select ‘apply now’ to fill out the application form.

The Organisation

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which drives change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university in the Netherlands; divided over six faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. The University of Twente has a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out pioneering research. The Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) of the University of Twente provides international postgraduate education, research and project services in the field of geo-information science and earth observation using remote sensing and GIS. The aim of ITC’s activities is the international exchange of knowledge, focusing on capacity building and institutional development in developing countries and emerging economies.

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