Postdoc position in advanced data mining and analysis of marine plastic pollution (1.0 FTE)

Onderwijs en onderzoek
Uren per week: 
38 tot 38
Faculteit of dienst: 
Faculteit Betawetenschappen
Department of Physics, Physical Oceanography
Uiterlijk reageren op: 


The amount of plastic in our ocean is growing rapidly, with estimates of more than 5 million metric tonnes of plastic reaching the ocean each year. This plastic infiltrates the ocean food web and thus poses a major threat to marine life. However, the understanding of the distribution, pathways and fate of plastic once in the ocean is very limited.

In the project ‘Tracking Of Plastics In Our Seas’ (TOPIOS), funded by the European Research Council, we will create a novel comprehensive modelling framework that simulates plastic movement through the ocean, and use that framework to significantly improve the understanding of the plastic pollution in our oceans.

You will work within the TOPIOS project, focusing specifically on data analysis of the distribution of plastic in the ocean. You will combine published data from the literature and public datasets with output from ocean circulation models, to help create a map of the three-dimensional distribution of plastic in our oceans.
During the project, you will be involved in

  • automated processing of the literature to collate a database of observations of plastic in the ocean;
  • analysis of the database using advanced statistics;
  • together with others in the team, combining the observational data with numerical simulations;
  • writing and presenting the results to scientific peers, the general public and the media.

At the end of this postdoc project, you will have:

  • a deep understanding of the scale of the problem of global plastic pollution;
  • embedded yourself in the global community of scientists investigating marine plastic pollution;
  • further developed your skills to communicate your scientific results to a wide audience.


Our ideal candidate has a driven and collaborative spirit and:

  • a PhD in Physics, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics or a similar field;
  • experience with data mining and/or natural language processing;
  • the ability to cooperate within a wider and interdisciplinary research team;
  • an excellent level of written and spoken English.

Preferably you also have a proven affinity with physical oceanography and strong skills in python programming.


  • a position for 18 to 21 months, depending on start date (end date is 31 March 2022);
  • a full-time gross salary ranging from €2,709 to €4,274 in scale 10;
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities (cao).

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.

Over de organisatie

You will work at the Institute of Marine and Atmospheric research at the Department of Physics of Utrecht University, and then specifically within the Lagrangian Ocean Analysis group. This group, led by Dr Erik van Sebille, works on creating simulations of the transport of material (plastics, plankton, fish) by ocean currents and its impact on climate and marine ecosystems. Within the group, we adhere to Open Science principles and aim to create a collaborative and inclusive atmosphere.

At the Faculty of Science there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes which work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the University and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.

Aanvullende informatie

If you have any questions, please contact Dr Erik van Sebille via

Do you have questions about the application procedure? Send an email to


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the expertise and the experience to excel in this role, please apply via the “Apply now” button!

Please enclose:

  • a letter of motivation;
  • your curriculum vitae;
  • the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least two references.

If this specific opportunity is not for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Corona virus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

Uiterlijk reageren op 13 juni 2020.