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POLYRISK: multidisciplinary project on human exposure to nanoplastic and microplastic contamination

Department of Environment and Health

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Dr H Leslie No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The VU Dept. of Environment and Health is seeking a motivated and talented analytical chemistry MSc graduate in interested in an ambitious multidisciplinary project on human exposure to nanoplastic and microplastic contamination, and earning a PhD diploma.

 Location: AMSTERDAM


Job description

Microplastic and nanoplastic is one of the planetary pollution problems that affects practically all habitats and species, including Homo sapiens. This PhD candidate's chief responsibility is to develop and apply methods to detect and quantify plastic particles for human risk assessment. The PhD project takes place within the framework of the EU H2020 POLYRISK project with consortium partners from top (immuno)toxicology, public and environmental health, and analytical chemistry research groups across Europe. The PhD candidate has the opportunity to join a team of young and enthusiastic researchers working on various aspects of plastic particle pollution in the vibrant environment of the VU's O|2 Lab Building, also home to POLYRISK partner AUMC-VUmc location MCBI group.

Your duties

Develop and validate analytical methodologies to detect, identify, and quantify plastic particles in human biological matrices (inter alia) to use in generating an analytical dataset that gives insights into plastic particle exposure and enables human risk assessment.

·      investigate plastic particle distribution in human matrices

·      ensure QA/QC of data produced

·      gather data on potential exposure routes of microplastics for humans

·      inter/transdisciplinary collaborations with other PhD students in the consortium

·      supervise research traineeships and literature theses of master students within the scope of the POLYRISK project

·      provide regular progress updates at POLYRISK project meetings and group meetings

·      disseminate results in peer-reviewed journals and at conferences

·      write and defend a PhD thesis at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


·      Required diploma: MSc in Analytical environmental chemistry, Analytical chemistry or very closely related degree

·      Required expertise: Analytical environmental chemistry, experience with gas (or liquid) chromatography and mass spectrometry, excellent command of the English language and excellent scientific writing skills

·      Recommended expertise: Human biomonitoring and risk assessment

What are we offering?

·      a generously funded full-time position (duration 48 months)

·      attractive benefits (see

·      a high profile research project in H2020 POLYRISK consortium

·      excellent facilities for research and education

·      research and transferable skills training via the AIMMS Research School

·      access to large network via POLYRISK international collaborators

·      the preferred starting date for this position is 1 May 2021 (negotiable)

A challenging position in a socially engaged organization. In accordance with university regulations for academic personnel the gross-per-month salary amounts to €2395 (PhD) during the first year and increases to €2972 (PhD) in the fourth year, based on full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for an additional 3 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as: 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, solid pension scheme (ABP), contribution to commuting expenses, a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge.

The Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the department and the POLYRISK project

Department of Environment and Health (E&H) is part of the VU’s Faculty of Science. It aims to understand and inform society on the environmental and human health risks of chemicals. The department is a unique combination of chemists, toxicologists and epidemiologists. We develop methods to discover emerging chemicals characterize their toxicity for the environment, including humans. Plastic pollution scientist Dr. Leslie is co-coordinating the EU H2020 POLYRISK project and leading the analytical chemistry workpackage. Links: and


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until March 18, 2021. Note that job interviews are expected last week of March (online).

Please upload the following information as ONE SINGLE pdf file:

 ·      detailed CV - include information on your BSc and MSc studies, language skills, achievements, expertise, analytical chemistry laboratory skills and experience, publications list

·      motivation letter, addressed to the POLYRISK Selection Committee, explaining your motivation and suitability for the position

·      contact details of at least 2 references (names, addresses, emails).

·      reference letter from one of the references

·      academic diplomas and certificates, scanned copies

·      official academic transcript i.e. documents demonstrating your performance as BSc and MSc student over time by listing the course units or modules taken, credits gained and the grades awarded). If you have not completed your MSc degree yet include all grades obtained so far

·      English language skills certificate, for non-native English speakers

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions

If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact F. Kok (HR related questions) or H. Leslie (science-related questions):

Name: Fleur Kok (HR rep)

Position: Human Resources rep

E-mail: [Email Address Removed]


Name: Dr. H. Leslie (scientific supervisor)

Position: Scientist

E-mail: [Email Address Removed]

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