Netherlands: PhD candidate in Mathematical Demography and Ecology at University of Amsterdam

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Job description

A PhD position is available with Prof. Hal Caswell, in the Theoretical Ecology Research Group within the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) at the University of Amsterdam. The Theoretical Ecology group currently comprises 2 professors, 3 assistant professors, 1 postdoctoral researcer, and 4 PhD candidates, and currently hosts two ERC Advanced Grants. It has active research programs in structured population modelling, resource-consumer interactions, epidemiology, demography, and evolutionary and eco-evolutionary theory.

The IBED is one of the eight research institutes within the Faculty of Science. Research in IBED includes Community Dynamics, Biodiversity and Evolution, and Geo-Ecology, and aims at a better understanding of the dynamics of ecosystems at all relevant levels, from genes to climate change, using a truly multidisciplinary approach.

Project description

This PhD position is part of a research program on Individual Stochasticity and Population Heterogeneity in Plant and Animal Populations, which is funded by an ERC Advanced Grant to Prof. dr. Hal Caswell.

Variation among individuals in reproduction, longevity, and other demographic traits, is universal. It has two potential sources: heterogeneity (biological differences among individuals in their properties) and individual stochasticity (random differences resulting from vital rates applied to identical individuals). The goal of this research program is to develop a comprehensive theory for incorporating individual stochasticity and heterogeneity into demographic models for plants, animals, and humans.

This PhD project will involve both theoretical development and application of matrix population models, Markov chain models, and perturbation analysis to explore variation in longevity, lifetime reproduction, and other demographic properties. Applications may include populations of conservation and management concern, evolutionary questions related to senescence and resource allocation, and measures of health status and health expectancy in human populations.


The candidate should have:

  • a Master’s degree, with strong quantitative skills, in ecology, population biology, or demography, or a degree in applied mathematics or statics with experience in population biology;
  • interest in developing new theory in population biology;
  • good computer skills, including programming in Matlab or R.;
  • willingness to work in a multidisciplinary environment.

Conditions of employment

The project starts early 2014. The full-time appointment will be on a temporary basis for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. The PhD candidate is also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduates. The full-time gross monthly salary will range from €2,083 in the first year to €2,664 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD candidates. The Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities is applicable. The annual salary will be increased by 8 % holiday allowance and 8,3 % end-of-year bonus.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

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