Tailored opportunities: PhD student in Sustainability Sciences


The mission of the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) is to advance research for biosphere stewardship and innovation. Research at the SRC applies a social-ecological systems perspective and resilience thinking to generate knowledge and understanding to enable social-ecological transformations towards sustainable futures. Research is advanced through transdisciplinary collaboration with international leading researchers, research environments worldwide, and environmental actors.

The SRC aims to foster new generations of researchers and academic leaders through our Resilience Research School. The school equips students with a theoretical and practical foundation in Sustainability Science with a focus on resilience in social-ecological systems. Students are encouraged to develop new approaches that integrate methods and concepts from the social, natural and applied sciences. Emphasis is placed on developing student ability to define a problem, develop research methods, and communicate research findings within international scientific and science-policy discussions.

Project description
The project is part of an effort to improve the understanding of interactions among planetary boundaries (the boundaries in which the Earth system remains in a stable state), and to understand the implications of simultaneous human pressure on several systems that is characteristic of the Anthropocene – the human dominated era.

The three key questions in this project are:

  1. What are the dynamic feedbacks of changes in rainfall on land systems, i.e., are there water induced tipping points in biomes, and thus how resilient are biomes to changes in rainfall?
  2. What are the combined impacts of land-use change and climate change on rainfall/moisture feedback (in rainforest systems)?
  3. Estimating potential regional risks of climate induced rainfall changes for humans as well as investigate consequences of human decisions on influencing water cycling and thus biome tipping elsewhere.

The PhD student will be investigating effects of land-use and climate change altering moisture feedbacks (change of rainfall patterns) affecting ecological and anthropogenic systems (e.g. rainforest systems, agricultural systems). The PhD student should use empirical observations (remote-sensing satellite vegetation data, climate data) to learn about tipping points in biomes related to the water cycle. Moreover, several models (STEAM, WAM, LPJmL, and CLIMBER/POEM) are available to run scenarios studying the feedbacks within coupled social-ecological systems: the dynamic relationship between hydro-climate, crop yield, food demand, agricultural expansion, deforestation, and rainfall.

This project is part of the European Research Council (ERC) funded project Earth Resilience in the Anthropocene (ERA). The selected PhD candidate will be employed by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and be supervised by researchers at SRC and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands as part of a collaboration project. The PhD candidate will also be part of the larger ERA international research group, with researchers integrating insights from Earth system science and social-ecological resilience. The SRC is a leading international centre in sustainability science for biosphere stewardship, and TU Delft is ranked among the top universities in hydrology and water resources management research.

The first year will be spend 50 % at the SRC and 50 % at TU Delft. The total time at TU Delft can be up to 2 years and possibly shorter periods can be spend at other project partners with the ERA project (e.g., Wageningen University or Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research).


To be hired as a PhD student at the Stockholm Resilience Centre one must be eligible to be admitted to a PhD Programme in Natural Science at Stockholm University.

In order to meet the general entry requirements, the applicant must have completed a second-cycle degree, completed courses equivalent to at least 240 higher education credits, of which 60 credits must be in the second cycle, or have otherwise acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere.

Specific entry requirements for admission to postgraduate studies in Sustainability Science are that the applicant has a total of at least 30 credits, or equivalent, at advanced level in Natural Science, as well as a thesis of at least 30 credits at advanced level in a relevant subject, or equivalent knowledge.

The qualification requirements must be met by the deadline for applications.

The selection among the eligible candidates will be based on:

  • Knowledge of hydrology, ecology, atmospheric science, and land systems;
  • Experience in modelling and data analysis;
  • Programming skills (e.g., Python, MATLAB, R);
  • Practical experience and knowledge relevant to the research task;
  • Knowledge of scientific theory and methodology;
  • Analytical ability as demonstrated by a scientific report, paper or degree project thesis;
  • The applicants personal references;
  • Willingness and ability to work as part of a transdisciplinary team, particularly in collaboration with domain experts in social and ecological aspects of fisheries and agriculture.
  • Fluent in English.

Admission Regulations for Doctoral Studies at Stockholm University are available at: www.su.se/rules.


Application deadline is 24 April 2018


Apply for the PhD student position at Stockholm University’s recruitment system by clicking the “Apply” button. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline.

Please include the following information with your application

  • Your contact details and personal data*
  • Your highest degree*
  • Your language skills
  • Contact details for 2–3 references

    and, in addition, please include the following documents

  • Cover letter*
  • CV – degrees and other completed courses, work experience and a list of degree projects/theses/publications*
  • Research proposal (no more than 3 pages) describing:
    – why you are interested in the field/project described in the advertisement
    – why and how you wish to complete the project
    – what makes you suitable for the project in question
  • Degree certificates and grades confirming that you meet the general and specific entry requirements (no more than 6 files)*
  • Letters of recommendation (no more than 3 files)
  • Include electronic copies of 3 most relevant works (degree projects or published articles) (no more than 3 files).*

Items marked with an asterisk (*) are obligatory.

The instructions for applicants are available at: Instructions – Applicants

For detailed information on this opportunity, please visit this page.

If you need any support in making an application, post your question in the comment box below.

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African Academic/Researcher

Science and Research by Africans for Africa

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