PhD Position in Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry

VU University of Amsterdam Department of Earth Sciences


Are you an Earth scientist that is highly motivated and strongly committed to science? Would you like to work at the interfaces of sedimentology, geo-microbiology and geochemistry? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.


FTE: 1 

Job description

The PhD student will work in the field of geomicrobiology and  biomineralization of carbonates, within the project Geobiological mechanisms controlling the formation of carbonate minerals at low temperatures. The overall aim is to investigate if and how microorganisms control the mineralogy and therefore, the geochemistry of carbonate minerals that grow at low temperature (<50° C) to establish if these minerals can act as proxies of the paleo-conditions of formation. We will examine the hypersaline system in Laguna Fuente de Piedra (SW Spain), one of few places of present-day dolomite formation, and perform biotic and abiotic laboratory experiments that mimic natural environments (i.e., vary temperature, pH, salinity etc). The different metabolisms involved in carbonate biomineralization under oxic and anoxic conditions are expected to deliver characteristic nanotextural and geochemical signatures in both mineral and organic phases. Therefore, the characterization of dolomite in the hypersaline and evaporitic environment of Fuente de Piedra, coupled with laboratory experiments, will allow a quantitative interpretation of the processes that cause dolomite formation. Models developed from these data will be applied to examples of early Earth environments where unaltered carbonates are preserved to determine the palaeo-environment and possible role of life.

The project is highly interdisciplinary acting at the interfaces of sedimentology, geomicrobiology and geochemistry. The integration of field and laboratory studies with state-of-the-art analytical techniques will allow us to model the bio-physio-chemical controls of the geochemistry of carbonates formed with and without biological mediation. This project involves a multi-technique approach linking fieldwork, laboratory experimentation with the application of cutting-edge analytical and spectroscopic technique


  • highly motivated candidate who is strongly committed to research
  • MSc or equivalent degree in Earth Sciences
  • strong analytical skills
  • affinity with fieldwork
  • willing to supervise BSc and MSc student projects

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,395 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 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), a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

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

The Earth Sciences Department at the Faculty of Science offers a stimulating multi-disciplinary working environment in research and teaching within two clusters: Geology and Geochemistry and Earth and Climate. This PhD position is in the Geology and Geochemistry cluster that covers a broad spectrum of research including isotopic and trace element studies of the Earth system, time scales and rates processes, sedimentology and stratigraphy, geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry, Earth’s climate, geodynamics and tectonics, and planetary science.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 23 August 2020.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions

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

Name: Dr. Monica Sanchez-Roman
Position: Assistant professor

No agencies

In your application, please refer to


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