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PhD candidate, effects of artificial light at night on plant communities

Vacancy number
Function type
PhD positions
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
8 October 2021
Closing date
24 October 2021 8 more days to apply

Apply now

The Institute of Environmental Sciences is looking for a:

PhD candidate, effects of artificial light at night on plant communities (1.0 fte)

Vacancy number 21-466

Key responsibilities

We are looking for an outstanding PhD candidate to work within the recently established BioClock consortium. The aim of this consortium is to reduce the disruptive effects of our 24-h society, including light pollution, on the biological clocks of humans, plants and animals. Focussing on plants, this PhD will detail, and scale up from, the physiological and phenological effects of light pollution to understand the effects on fitness and cascading effects on communities. Using experimentally illuminated sites and existing dark-light night sky gradients across The Netherlands, the study focusses on the impact of light at night on plants from the individual to community level.  Key tasks for this position include:

  • Collecting observational data on plant phenology along dark-light night sky gradients;
  • Designing and conducting experiments in both the field and controlled outdoor research facilities e.g. ‘Living Lab’ (https://youtu.be/SDStzIdK9ic) of Leiden University to assess impacts of artificial light at night on plants from the individual (phenotypic) to community level;
  • Determine how different sources of artificial light at night impact different plant species and what role this might play in the wider community;
  • Combining data from a wide spectrum of collection methods and spatial scales ; remote sensing, citizen science, lab studies etc;
  • Collaborating with other researchers from the BioClock consortium with the vision to strengthen data interpretation and analysis.

Selection Criteria:

  • You should have a strong interest in plant communities with a focus on human impacts on plant phenology and ecology;
  • You should have a MSc degree in either environmental biology, ecology, botany, or other relevant field, ideally with proven skills in producing scientific output (publications);
  • You have relevant experience in plant phenology, ecology, and collection and ecological interpretation of field data with experience in data analyses using R;
  • Having experience in experiments across ecological levels (from individual to community level) is an advantage;
  • You are comfortable with using data collected with different methods and across varying spatial scales;
  • You are a team player, take initiative, and have a strong interest and motivation to pursue academic research;
  • Flexible attitude, keen interest in developing field skills;
  • Excellent English proficiency;
  • A valid driving licence.

Research with BioClock

This PhD position is one of in total 25 positions at the core of the BioClock consortium, funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) in the framework of the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA). BioClock is a national consortium in which academic institutes, societal partners, and industry join forces to address a broad spectrum of fundamental and applied research questions on the circadian clock in modern society. As a PhD researcher in the BioClock consortium, you’ll get the opportunity to actively participate in this multidisciplinary team effort. See the website for more information about the BioClock consortium.


Our organisation

The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to contribute to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) is positioned in the Faculty of Sciences. The core focus of CML is to perform research and education in the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Sciences. CML has two Departments: Industrial Ecology (CML-IE) and Environmental Biology (CML-EB). Presently, about 125 fte (including postdocs and PhDs) are employed at CML. CML collaborates with the TU Delft and Erasmus University in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability (LDE-CfS), Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, and other partners.

For more information, see the website of the Faculty of Science. Information about CML can be found at the website.

Terms and conditions 

We offer a 1-year position with the possibility of extension to 4 years based on performance. Salary ranges from € 2.434 gross per month in the first year to € 3.111 gross per month in the fourth year based on a full-time position (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). 

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development. 

Graduate school

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.


Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries can be made to Dr. Emily Strange (e.f.strange@cml.leidenuniv.nl).


To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to sollicitaties@cml.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • CV
  • Motivation letter
  • The names and phone numbers of two referees

We will consider applications submitted before October 24th 2021. Interviews will likely take place in the following week. The exact date will follow.

Apply now

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