Tailored opportunities: PhD position: Living on the Edge-Resilient Mangroves for Coastal Safety at the University of Twente


Are you interested in innovative, nature-based solutions to enhance flood protection of coastal areas around the world? At the Water Engineering & Management department we have an active and dynamic group of researchers pioneering in nature-based engineering.

In this position you will study the resilience of coastal mangrove systems and their contribution to coastal safety. Mangrove ecosystems are known to significantly reduce flood risks in low-elevation coastal areas, well-known hotspots for population growth and economic development. Mangroves’capacity to attenuate hydrodynamic forces and to accumulate sediments also provides them with a natural resilience to buffer the impacts of flood events and to adapt to changes in environmental conditions. Nevertheless, mangroves are increasingly stressed by decreasing sediment supplies, accelerated sea-level rise and other anthropogenic impacts. Critical thresholds to mangrove resilience may be reached and quantitative insights into how such factors affect biophysical interactions in mangroves are required to develop predictive models to help assess mangrove shorelines’ vulnerability as well as their contribution to coastal safety.

Assessing and predicting mangrove resilience is challenging because of the disparity between short-term and longer-term biophysical dynamics in these ecosystems. The aim of this PhD position will be to bridge the gap between short-term and long-term morphodynamics in mangroves ecosystems, by combining field observations with numerical simulations. Field observations will be instrumental in obtaining a mechanistic understanding of the morphological development of mangroves. You will then use these insights to develop a numerical model able to predict both the short-term and long-term biomorphodynamic development of mangroves and its sensitivity to the effects of climate change and other anthropogenic impacts. The aim is to quantify mangrove resilience, thus enabling the assessment of mangroves’ integrity and contributions to coastal safety, now and in the future.

This PhD position is part of the Mangrove-RESCUE program, ‘Mangrove Resilience for Enhanced Safety of Coastal Urbanisations and Environments’. Within this program, you will collaborate with a wide range of partners in the Netherlands and overseas.


Requirements for this scholarship include;

  • Master’s degree in Civil Engineering, Physical Geography, Ecology or related discipline.
  • Work and/or study experience in an interdisciplinary and international team/setting.
  • Familiar with (field)work in adverse environments/conditions.
  • Sound numerical/programming skills (e.g Matlab, Python, Fortran) and experienced in modelling biophysical dynamics and interactions (e.g. Delft3D, MIKE, TELEMAC).
  • Good organizational skills, enthusiastic, independent, like to push boundaries and don’t mind a challenge.
  • Willing to teach/tutor in the Civil Engineering program and to supervise BSc and MSc students.
  • Good communication skills in English and able to collaborate and communicate with academic and non-academic counterparts.


Deadline for application is 30 June 2019


For more information about the position, you can contact Dr. Erik Horstman ( e.m.horstman@utwente.nl , +31 53 489 1539) or Prof. Kathelijne Wijnberg ( k.m.wijnberg@utwente.nl , +31 53 489 4701). 
The project will start as soon as possible after a suitable candidate is found.

Please upload your application via the ‘Apply now’ button by June 30th 2019. Your application should include a cover letter (emphasizing your specific interest, motivation and qualifications), a detailed CV, an academic transcript of B.Sc. and M.Sc. education, a publication list (if applicable) and contact details of 2 referees. An interview and a scientific presentation will be part of the selection procedure.

The selection interviews are scheduled on July 9th 2019 and can be held through Skype if you are not based in the Netherlands. The project will start as soon as possible after a suitable candidate has been selected.

If you need support in making an application to this opportunity, write your questions as a comment.

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Author: African Academic/Researcher

Science and Research by Africans for Africa

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