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PhD-position: Natural Bank Erosion Processes, the Netherlands

Delft University of Technology

Faculty/department Civil Engineering and Geosciences /Hydraulic Engineering Department/ River Section
Level Master degree
Maximum employment 38 hours per week (1 FTE)
Duration of contract 4 years

Salary scale €2083 to €2664 per month gross

Civil Engineering and Geosciences 
The Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences provides leading, international research and education. Innovation and sustainability are central themes. Research addresses societal issues. Research and education are closely interwoven. The faculty consists of the departments of Transport and Planning, Structural Engineering, Geoscience and Engineering, Water Management, Hydraulic Engineering, and Geoscience and Remote Sensing. 

The Department of Hydraulic Engineering is concerned with the safe and sustainable use of surface waters (e.g., coasts, rivers, harbours). This involves studying and modelling the physics of these environments, optimising management strategies, and designing technical infrastructure.     

Within the Department of Hydraulic Engineering, the Rivers Group focuses on the flow of water and transport of sediment in rivers. The main research themes are: (longterm) morphodynamic prediction, sediment transport and sorting, flow over groynes and obstacles, river bank processes, interaction between flow and vegetation, and uncertainties in fluvial modelling. Analyses of field observations, laboratory experiments, as well as analytical and numerical modelling are key components of our research.     

Job description 
We seek a PhD candidate for the project "Natural bank erosion processes". The ecological quality of trained rivers and streams can be enhanced by leaving the banks unprotected and by creating side channels. Both measures increase spatial substrate variability due to the larger cross-sectional variation in flow and sediment transport and more dynamics, which improves ecological diversity. At the same time conveyance capacity and navigability should be guaranteed, and maintenance efforts should be manageable and cost-effective. Proper understanding and predictability of the biomorphodynamics are therefore of key importance in the design of river restoration projects. The local processes governing the rate of bank erosion require attention as they determine the planform changes in the main and side channels with freely erodible vegetated banks. 
The objective of the PhD project is therefore to improve understanding of processes related to the bank erosion, in particular bank toe erosion, and employ this to propose means of manipulation of bank retreat rates that are acceptable from a practical and ecological point of view. The candidate will combine geotechnical bank stability modelling, detailed turbulence modelling and morphodynamics experiments to complement field site studies, including effects of vegetation on the physical processes. 
This PhD project is part of the research programme ‘RiverCare: towards self-sustaining multifunctional rivers’, recently funded within the so called PerspectiefProgramme of the Dutch Science and Technology Foundation (NWO-STW). In RiverCare five universities and many public and private parties collaborate to get a better understanding of the fundamental processes that drive ecomorphodynamic changes, to predict intermediate and longterm developments, and to develop best practices to reduce maintenance costs and increase the benefits of interventions. The river restoration projects currently carried out in the Dutch Room for the River programme provide a unique opportunity to achieve these objectives and use the results to develop models and develop guidelines for best practices. The bank erosion research project will be conducted in close cooperation with other subprojects in the RiverCare programme, and more specifically with RiverCare projects focussing on side channels and on stream restoration. The research project will be conducted at Delft University of Technology in close collaboration with Utrecht University. Advisors are Prof. Wim Uijttewaal of TUD and Prof. Maarten Kleinhans of Utrecht University (promotores), and other members of the RiverCare consortium (Dr. Astrid Blom of TUD, Dr. Ralph Schielen of Twente University). The project is co-funded by, amongst others, Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment). A committee of users, c.q. stakeholders, will warrant a link to practice. 

The PhD student is required to have an MSc degree in Civil or Environmental Engineering, Applied Mathematics, (Geo-)Physics or a related field. The candidate should have a thorough background in hydrodynamics, morphodynamics, or general physics. In particular, the preferred candidate has a strong interest in the physics of natural systems with ecological components, and in societally relevant application of the fundamental science. He/she has excellent scientific writing skills, is communicative, curious, eager to learn, neither afraid of programming nor of dirty hands, and is able to contribute to a multi-disciplinary team of scientists.    

Conditions of employment 
The TU Delft offers an attractive benefits package, including a flexible work week and the option of assembling a customised compensation and benefits package (the 'IKA'). Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.
As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit www.phd.tudelft.nl for more information. 

Information and application 
For more information about this position, please contact Prof. Wim Uijttewaal, e-mail:w.s.j.uijttewaal@tudelft.nl. To apply, please send the following: (1) a letter of application (max 1 page), (2) a detailed Curriculum Vitae that explicitly states your educational record, list of publications (if any), industrial experience (if any), and the names of three persons who could be contacted for a reference, (3) a pdf of your MSc thesis or other evidence of scientific writing skills, and (4) a first and short indication of research questions and the methodology that you, at this stage, would propose for this project (in 400 words or less). 
Please e-mail your application before 15 December 2014 to Wim Uijttewaal, w.s.j.uijttewaal@tudelft.nl. When applying for this position, please refer to vacancy number CITG14-46.


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