Postdoc Human-Environment Systems Analysis and Modelling

Website Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam)

About the job

Do you want to contribute to informing sustainability transformations by developing better methods for the analysis and modelling of socio-ecological systems? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8 – 1

Job Description

Urban food systems, commodity value chains, as well as European agricultural systems need to adapt to help meeting global climate and biodiversity targets. Identifying and implementing the best mitigation measures and system adaptations requires solid understanding of such complex, socio-ecological systems. Analysis and modelling can help enhancing system understanding, and the assessment of impacts of policies and other interventions on the system as a whole. However, modelling tools for socio-ecological systems analysis need further development to better represent human decision making and multi-level structures. This postdoc position aims to advance our portfolio of methods for addressing such issues. This is, in practice, targeted to modelling urban food systems in Africa, and to modelling the adoption of alternative farming systems in Europe. In these contexts, the postdoc will add analytic and modelling skills to a number of collaborative projects conducted in our laboratory. To that end, the postdoc is expected to participate in (international) project meetings and workshops and collaborate with multiple (international) project partners from different disciplines. Based on the interest and ambition of the candidate, candidates are also encouraged to contribute to project acquisition and teaching in the department, including the supervision of BSc and MSc theses.
The successful candidate has experience in quantitative modelling and possesses knowledge of different modelling approaches such as Bayesian Networks and Spatial modelling.

Your duties

  • conduct innovative research and contribute to collaborative projects
  • publish research findings in peer-reviewed journals and on international conferences
  • contribute to Msc thesis supervision (and potentially some other teaching)
  • contribute to applications for new projects
  • contribute modelling skills to smaller consultancy projects


  • Strong interest in interdisciplinary research
  • PhD in environmental sciences, ecology, quantitative social sciences or geography
  • strong evidence of writing skills by a good publication record
  • an attitude towards teamwork and (international) collaboration
  • willingness to contribute to the coordination of multi-partner projects

What are we offering?
A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €3,491 (scale 10.5)
and a maximum €5,127 (scale 11), depending on your education and experience. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The employment contract will affect a period of 3 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About The Department, Institute, Project

Established in 1971, IVM is a leading environmental research institute that is internationally recognized for its high quality research output in a range of environmental disciplines, as well as for its interdisciplinary work. The mission of the institute is to contribute to sustainable development and care for the environment through scientific research and teaching. IVM aims to do excellent problem-oriented research that is useful to a wide range of stakeholders in the Netherlands and internationally. A unique strength of our research is to understand sustainability problems in their social and economic context. IVM’s research community works within four departments: Environmental Economics; Environmental Policy Analysis; Environmental Geography; and Water and Climate Risk.

The Department of Environmental Geography investigates the role of spatial variation in human-environmental systems. The focus of the group is on Land System Change with research on Ecosystem Services, Food Systems, Urban Sustainable Development and Spatial modelling. The department bridges disciplines by using a wide range of mostly quantitative methods across local to global scales. Advanced methods for stakeholder participation and ex-ante evaluation are developed and tested to support environmental management and land use planning.

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until January 9, 2021. If you are able to provide contact details of possible references it is appreciated. Recommendation letters or other documents are not required.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Peter Verburg

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