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


Relevance of green stem tissues to hydraulics of urban trees (international 4-year research project; cooperation of Ghent University (Prof. Kathy Steppe) and the University of Innsbruck (Prof. Stefan Mayr)). The project deals with the relevance of green stem tissues to tree hydraulics of urban trees. Based on numerous methods, such as sap flow and stem diameter measurements or acoustic emission analyses, the functional importance of these tissues during drought and frost will be investigated in potted trees of several species, and in adult sycamore trees in Ghent and Innsbruck to compare their hydraulic performance under natural drought and winter stress in a temperate versus alpine climate.


  • Literature survey on drought and frost stress, plant monitoring technology, and process-based tree modelling.
  • Assessment of vulnerability to drought- and frost-induced embolism in potted trees of several species.
  • Installation and follow-up of novel tree-monitors and CITREE-band dendrometers on adult trees in Ghent.
  • Expansion of the and CITREE 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 (UGent) and Prof. Stefan Mayr (UIBK). The project is at the core of the lab’s mission:


Tentative starting date: October 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., tree growth, sap flow).
  • 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 Innsbruck.
  • Strong interests in tree physiology, climate change, state-of-the-art sensor technologies, citizen science 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 (