Doctoral fellow

Last application date
Aug 15, 2021 00:00
WE11 - Department of Biology
Limited duration
MSc degree related to the subject area (Master in Biology, bio-engineering sciences, geography,…)
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

Forecasting dune development and its functioning as a nature-based solutions for coastal protection

The Department Biology of Ghent University is offering a PhD scholarship (R1-level) in 2021. The PhD student will be hosted at TEREC (Terrestrial Ecology) research group.

Climate change is causing rising sea levels and increases the impact of extreme storm events. Because coastal dunes have the capacity to grow along with the rising sea, they are an important nature-based solution in coastal protection. Dune development results from close interactions between dune-building plant species and sand dynamics. A more in-depth understanding of the processes controlling spatial dynamics and interactions among ecosystem engineers is crucial to develop dunes as a nature-based solution for coastal protection.

This student will perform quantitative analyses of dune-vegetation feedbacks by means of
1. Detailed surveys by means of remote sensing and field measurements of vegetation development and sand dynamics in recently established unique field experiment (Duin voor Dijk) in Oostende and Raversijde
2. Controlled lab experiments in our new campus Greenbridge
3. Remote sensing data on dune dynamics in relation to vegetation structure
These insights will be used to parameterise and analyse a mechanistic model to forecast dune development and its value as a nature based solution under future sea level rise. Research will be done within an interdisciplinary consortium of researchers from the Coastal Division of the Flemish Community, VLIZ, INBO, Flanders Hydraulics Research and KU Leuven. The student will be stationed at the Ledeganck campus (Gent) and Greenbridge Science Park (Oostende).

Job profile

Candidates should have a strong background in relevant subjects such as (coastal, plant, spatial ecology), remote sensing and/or modelling. Experience in programming and/or machine learning (Python/R as a coding language) is seen as an advantage. The position is available for a 4-years period, pending a positive intermediate evaluation. Applicants demonstrate excellent study results and good English skills. As criteria for the assessment of your qualification, emphasis will also be laid on your motivation, previous publications (if any) and relevant experience.

How to apply

Send your CV, overview of study results, full details of 3 references, and your application letter, in English, to the supervisor (Dries Bonte) of the project.
Info: prof. Dries Bonte (, Phone: 0032/92645213.