Project description
Nitrogen is one of the most important pressures affecting nature quality and biodiversity. Nitrogen policy and effective measures to reduce the nitrogen pressure have so far not been successful enough. Various interests and obstacles play a role. Agriculture has the largest contribution to the nitrogen problem and burden on nature. In addition, biodiversity in the agricultural landscape has declined by 40% in recent years, affecting both nature and agriculture itself. It leads to more use of resources, which in turn increases the pressure on nature. Agriculture itself is stuck in a system, where the focus is on cost reduction and intensification to maintain their income. In order to lead the agricultural transition to a sustainable system, it is essential to develop knowledge and instruments. Within the Liveable Planet program of Leiden University innovative tools and instruments will be developed that can contribute to sustainable agriculture in balance with its surrounding.

The development of Key Performance Indicators as an instrument in agricultural transition trajectories is being worked on from different levels. It offers good prospects to develop agriculture integrally towards sustainable use of resources with a good businessmodel. However, it is important to set the right goals for the public values translated into policy goals. On the basis of performance in the realization of those goals, farmers/agricultural entrepreneurs can be rewarded. This is in line with a strong need from farmers: more clarity, an integrated approach and long-term goals instead of regulations. CML is involved in the development of KPI’s for agricultural systems and is looking for a postdoc that can support this development.

Key responsibilities

  • Contribute to the scientific development of KPI’s and the collection of data taking into account the integral approach and the coupling between different spatial scales;
  • Coordinate the various developments of various KPI’s and bringing the developments together;
  • Keeping track of new developments around KPI’s in the field, including international developments;
  • Derive goals, target values, and possible threshold values for the different public values such as biodiversity, climate, ecology and environmental quality and regionalize them;
  • Contribute to governance of KPI systems and it use for policy and market initiatives.

Selection criteria 

  • A doctoral degree (PhD) in environmental sciences, natural sciences, agriculture or a related field;
  • Extensive knowledge on natural processes (e.g., in biology, geography, chemistry or physics), combined with profound skills in modelling, scenario development, data science, modern programming languages and tools;
  • Demonstrated experience with spatially explicit and process-oriented modelling of environmental or agricultural systems;
  • Experience in gathering and analysing large data sets from public literature or databases;
  • Good social and communication skills. Interested in cooperation with many different parties;
  • Experience with presentation and practical knowledge transfer
  • Excellent report writing and presentation skills.
  • You must be proficient in spoken and written Dutch.

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 make a contribution 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. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,300 staff and almost 5,000 students. 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.

Terms and conditions
We offer a one-year term position with the possibility of renewal based on need, funding and performance to a maximum of three years. The salary range is from € 2.790,- to € 4.402,- gross per month (pay scale 10 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 and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information, see the website.

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

Enquiries can be made to Jan Willem Erisman, email

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • CV;
  • A motivation letter;
  • The names and phone numbers of two referees.

Only applications received no later than  December 4th, 2020 will be considered. Interviews will take place on December 11 between 9 AM and 1 PM. You are kindly requested to be available on this date.

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