PhD Student

Last application date
Sep 30, 2020 23:59
LA21 - Department of Plants and Crops
Employment category
Research staff group 1
Limited duration
Master degree in Bioscience Engineering, Engineering, Physics, Biology, or an equivalent degree. Students who will graduate in September 2020 can also apply for this position.
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description

PROJECT understanding water and carbon dynamics in trees in a changing European climate (4-year research project) ( is a pioneering tree water and carbon monitoring network, in which high quality measurements of sap flow, stem diameter variation, stem water content and stem CO2 efflux will be collected in individual beech trees along north-south trajectories in Europe. The resulting unique dataset will be used to parameterize in real-time a mechanistic tree model to understand differences in growth, tree hydraulic responses and respiration to temperature and drought along trajectories through Europe from underlying water and carbon relationships.


  • Literature survey on plant monitoring technology and plant process-based modelling.
  • Installation and follow-up of monitoring units across Europe.
  • Expansion and maintenance of the website. - Data analyses and interpretation.
  • Tree mechanistic modelling (model parametrization, uncertainty, sensitivity and identifiability analyses).
  • Synthesis of research results in internal project reports and peer-reviewed journals.
  • Present results during national and international conferences, seminars and workshops.
  • Participation in a collaborative international research network, with highly motivated and top-level researchers.


The candidate will work at the Laboratory of Plant Ecology (Department of Plants and Crops, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University) under the supervision of Prof. Kathy Steppe and Dr. Roberto Salomón. The project is at the core of the lab’s mission:


Tentative starting date: September 2020.

Profile of the candidate

  • Highly motivated to obtain a PhD and write scientific publications.
  • Basic understanding of quantitative data interpretation and processing (e.g., growth, sap flow, respiration).
  • Experience, knowledge about and/or interest in tree monitoring techniques and modelling.
  • Good MSc study results.
  • Excellent communication skills in English – both orally and written.
  • Availability and flexibility for short-term mobility to visit experimental sites across Europe.
  • Strong interests in tree physiology, climate change, state-of-the-art plant sensor technologies, and in integrating knowledge across plant science disciplines in developing science-based outcomes.

How to apply

  • The application has to be submitted electronically (in a single pdf-file) to
  • Include a motivation letter and your CV, and if possible, an overview of study results. - Submit your application as soon as possible, as a decision may be taken before 30 September (deadline).
  • For more information about the project, contact Prof. Dr. ir. Kathy Steppe (