PhD / Post Doc position (vegetation modeller)

Last application date
Apr 01, 2019 12:00
LA20 - Department of Environment
Limited duration
PhD or MsC degree
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description

PhD / Post Doc position (vegetation modeller)

Incorporating heterogeneity of tropical forests in a global vegetation model


This position is opened at CAVElab (UGent) in the framework of the FWO research project:

There’s no such thing as “The Tropical Rainforest”: incorporating heterogeneity of tropical forests in a global vegetation model

CAVElab – Computational and Applied Vegetation Ecology (, is a research unit at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering of Ghent University, Belgium. The research unit is studying vegetation dynamics, carbon and water cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. CAVElab has a broad interest in all types of terrestrial ecosystems, but currently has a strong focus on the ecology of tropical forest ecosystems. Process-based vegetation modelling is the core research tool of the group, but the questions arising from the modelling work require dedicated field work activities. These field work activities are focused on improving uncertain process descriptions within vegetation models and on data-poor regions like the Congo Basin.

Project - Tropical forests play an essential role in the global carbon cycle and climate system. However, the impact of heterogeneity in tropical forest carbon dynamics on the global carbon cycle is not well understood. In this project, we will introduce, for the first time, drivers of tropical forest heterogeneity in a dynamic global vegetation model. Tropical forest heterogeneity will be included through continent-specific and regional model parameterizations and through implementations of new model developments including dependencies of specific functional traits and processes on environmental conditions. Unique improved simulations of pantropical forest biomass stocks and dynamics will be performed and the impact of tropical forest heterogeneity therein will be assessed.

Our offer

  • • A contract as full-time PhD student (4 years) or contract as a Post Doc (2 or 3 years)
  • • Starting date: as soon as possible
  • • The successful candidate will be based in Ghent, but will have the opportunity to visit partner modelling groups in Europe, North and South America
  • • Opportunity to contribute to CAVElab field work activities in the tropics
  • • Collaboration in a young and dynamic international scientific team

Profile of the candidate

For the post doc position:

  • • A PhD degree in a relevant field (e.g. forest ecology, biogeochemistry, ecophysiology)
  • • Knowledge of ecosystem demography and land surface processes
  • • Experience with vegetation modelling
  • • A research publication record in your relevant field

For the PhD position:

  • • A MSc degree in a relevant field (Bio-Engineering, Physics, Geosciences, Environmental sciences, Computer Science Engineering, or equivalent degree)
  • • Motivation to do a PhD and write scientific publications
  • • A keen interest in forest ecology

For both positions

  • • Knowledge of software development, fluent in programming with FORTRAN or C++.
  • • Knowledge of other languages such as R and Python is a plus.
  • • Familiar with the linux/unix environment and handling large datasets.
  • • A good command of English, both written and oral
  • • Willingness to collaborate and be a team player with good communication skills

How to apply

For applications (send CV and application letter) or more information: Prof. dr. ir. Hans Verbeeck | | +32 (0)9 264 61 13 Application deadline: 1 April 2019