PhD position: beyond the known drivers of marine carbonate mineral dissolution

This vacancy is the result of the collaboration between Utrecht University and NIOZ. The Department of Ocean Systems (OCS) at NIOZ (Texel) is looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate holding a Masters degree in Geology/Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Oceanography, Environmental Sciences, or a related field.


Vacancy ID: 2021-59

Closing Date: 12 November 2021 (application period is extended)

Interviews will be held online (Microsoft Teams) on 8th–9th November 2021.


The Faculty of Geosciences at UU offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere. With a population of 2,600 students (BSc and MSc) and 600 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organization. The Faculty is organized in four Departments: Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, and Human Geography & Spatial Planning. The Department of Earth Sciences conducts teaching and research across the full range of the solid Earth and environmental Earth sciences, with activities in almost all areas of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, biogeology and hydrogeology. The Department hosts a highly international group of more than 100 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers and houses a wide variety of world-class laboratories.

NIOZ is the national oceanographic institute and principally performs academically excellent multidisciplinary fundamental and frontier applied marine research addressing important scientific and societal questions pertinent to the functioning of oceans and seas. Second, NIOZ serves as national marine research facilitator (NMF) for The Netherlands scientific community. Third, NIOZ stimulates and supports multidisciplinary fundamental and frontier applied marine research, education and marine policy development in the national and international context.

Researchers in the Department of Ocean Systems (OCS) study open-ocean processes and aquatic ecosystems from a variety of disciplines including physical and chemical oceanography, marine geology, palaeoceanography, and deep-sea ecology. We investigate the past and present ocean to assess its future role in the Earth system. We collect data during oceanographic research cruises and conduct experiments both at sea and in the laboratory at our home base on Texel. The department carries out work in diverse environments all around the globe, from the Antarctic to the Arctic, and from the Caribbean to the North Sea.

Many marine organisms secrete carbonate minerals, and their post-mortem dissolution mitigates climate change and ocean acidification by neutralising excess CO2. Current dissolution models are based on seawater’s saturation state ( ? ). However, these models cannot explain a large gap in the biogeochemical alkalinity budget that indicates that dissolution happens where  ?  suggests it cannot. Furthermore, preliminary experiments show that aspects of seawater composition not captured by  ?  have an unsuspected influence on dissolution. The main aim of this project, called BEY ? ND, is to progress ‘beyond  ? ’ by determining how these aspects affect dissolution in the ocean, with implications for the carbon cycle and Earth’s resilience to rising CO2. The approach will include a variety of laboratory work (e.g. seawater chemistry measurements, atomic force microscopy, dissolution experiments), fieldwork (research cruise) and computational modelling (e.g. COMSOL Multiphysics, Python, transport matrix modelling). Training will be provided for each aspect. The principal supervisors are Dr Matthew Humphreys (NIOZ Texel) and Dr Mariëtte Wolthers (UU), and the work will be supported by Dr Olivier Sulpis (UU), Dr Helen King (UU) and Dr Jamie Wilson (University of Bristol).


We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate holding a Masters degree in Geology/Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Oceanography, Environmental Sciences, or a related field. Laboratory and/or coding experience would be advantageous. Your application should show how your knowledge and experience will help you succeed in this position. You will be expected to participate in multi-week sampling expeditions on research ships. Components of the research will take place in both locations (Texel and Utrecht). Due to the international character of our research, good command of spoken and written English is essential (at least C1 CEFR proficiency level, all IELTS components at 6+). You should be able to start the position by 1st January 2022.

In the vocabulary of the VSNU Competence Instrument for the Dutch Universities (see here), the most essential competences are Capacity to learn, Conceptual capacity, and Accuracy. Other desirable competences include Written fluency, Analytical capacity, Planning and Organising, and Presenting.

We highly encourage applicants from all members of our community and of diverse background,  including LGBTQI+ communities, to join us.

For additional information about this vacancy, please contact Matthew Humphreys or Mariëtte Wolthers For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (senior HR advisor).

For more information about the Department of Ocean Systems at NIOZ Texel, see here; for more information about the Department of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University see here.

Find more information about the UU-NIOZ projects here.

If you are interested in this position apply for this job by submitting a motivation letter with your CV and the names and contact details of three referees. You may decide whether to submit your CV in a traditional or narrative format.

The Royal NIOZ, 5 November 2021. More information.

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