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PhD Modeling sustainable development (1.0 FTE) (V23.0621)

Job description

We are hiring a PhD candidate to model sustainable development within the project BeyondSDG: “Transformation towards long-term sustainability beyond Sustainable Development Goals.” The project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant.

Countries are not on track to meet the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which comprises 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030. Failing to achieve SDGs will negatively affect billions of people and worsen environmental conditions and socio-economic problems. BeyondSDG aims to understand the conditions for long-term sustainability, including rescuing SDGs from failing. It will identify critical targets for prioritising SDGs, investigate the effects of (under)achieving SDGs on long-term sustainability beyond 2030, and identify sustainability targets for the post-2030 development agenda. BeyondSDG will apply a threefold scientific approach that combines statistical analysis of empirical and modelled data, qualitative analysis of literature, and knowledge co-creation based on systems thinking.

The PhD candidate will identify long-term sustainability determinants considering the planetary boundaries. These determinants will be used to investigate the effects of underachieving SDGs on long-term sustainability based on multiple scientific methods, including scenario analysis. Building on this investigation, the student will also answer whether achieving SDGs is enough to ensure long-term sustainability.

Responsibilities and tasks:

• identifying ecological and earth systems processes determining sustainability
• analyzing published model outcomes linking to sustainability determinants and SDGs
• exploring SDG scenarios, linking them with long-term sustainability
• publishing scientific articles and participating in conferences
• supporting the project activities and workshops, and
• teaching activities (15% of total workload) include mostly supervision of Bachelor and Master students.

The University of Groningen has an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education, offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in various disciplines encourage 37.000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, we are truly an international place of knowledge.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering harbours a kaleidoscope of disciplines and research strengths. Our programmes in research and education range from nanomaterials and biomachinery to astronomy, mathematics to pharmacy, neurosciences to computer science, and molecular and evolutionary biology to marine biology.

The Energy and Sustainability Research Institute (ESRIG) is a highly multidisciplinary institute performing research on energy and sustainability. Activities include experimental and model studies and studies into the societal interaction with scientific knowledge. The research of the Geo-Energy group within ESRIG focuses on the safe, sustainable utilisation of the subsurface for energy production and storage as well as carbon utilisation and storage.


The candidate should hold an MSc in environmental sciences and modelling, data analysis, natural resource management, geoinformation, physics, mathematics, or related disciplines. Knowledge of a programming language (Python, R, or MATLAB) is required, and experience with models (integrated assessment model, systems dynamic model, or input-output model) related to sustainable development is beneficial. For the motivated and skilled student, excellent verbal and written communication skills in English are mandatory


Conditions of employment

We offer the successful candidate in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,770 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month in the fourth and final year for a full-time working week
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a full-time (1.0 FTE) position for four years
• a position for four years; first, you will get a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years; extension of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year so that successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected.

A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Candidates are expected to start preferably before 1 January 2024


To be successful, the application has to include:

• cover letter
• curriculum vitae
• transcripts from your Bachelor’s and Master’s degree
• contact details of three potential referees, and
• any other relevant documents (e.g., short research statement, awards, publications, and language certifications).

You can submit your application until 15 October 11:59 pm / before 16 October 2023 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Dr Prajal Pradhan, Assistant Professor, p.pradhan

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.