Academic Positions Europe

KU Leuven, Belgium

A vacancy for a postdoc position on quantifying and modelling ecosystem services

(Ref. BAP-2017-15)

Occupation : Full-time
Period : Fixed-term contract
Place : Leuven
Apply no later than : January 27, 2017
The Remote Sensing & Terrestrial Ecology group, as part of the Division Forest, Nature and Landscape at the Department Earth & Environmental Sciences of KU Leuven (head Dr. Ben Somers; are looking for an environmental scientist for leading a study on monitoring and modeling tree health and ecosystem services in urban areas. The successful candidate has a proven track record in one or more of the following fields: noninvasive spectral and physiological sensing technology (e.g. thermal, optical and fluorescence measurements; in situ senor networks, etc.), signal processing, plant physiology, environmental modelling, ecology. Expertise in remote sensing is an added value. This position is framed within the context of the ERA-NET BIODIVERSA project URBAN-MYCOSERVE. Because of their well-known host tree benefits, Ectomycorrhizal Fungi (EM) may play an important role in urban tree management, improving tree vigor. Our knowledge of the EM community of urban trees, of its drivers, and of which role these fungi play in sustaining tree health and tree ecosystem service delivery is very limited. The aim of this project is (i) to provide an assessment of the EM community and functional group composition of urban trees, and of its environmental drivers, using next generation sequencing techniques; (ii) to relate specific EM, or functional groups of EM, to tree health, and tree ecosystem service delivery, using advanced noninvasive spectral and physiological sensing technology and urban biophysical modelling. The project is a cooperation between KU Leuven (B), INRA (Environment and Agronomy Department) (Fr), Universidade Católica Portuguesa (Escola Superior de Biotecnologia) (P) and Strasbourg University (Laboratory of engineering science, computer science and imagery) (Fr).


The research group Remote Sensing & Terrestrial Ecology focusses on studying the role, vitality and stability of plant species and their communities in (sub)urban and semi-natural environments. The most recent developments in remote sensing technology are exploited to quantify vegetation structure and functioning at various temporal and spatial scales. Through integration of remote sensing, GIS and in situ observations in spatial explicit modeling routines we explore how, and to what extent, different plant species and/or plant assemblages contribute to ecosystem services. Central in our approach is the concept of “nature-based solutions” which refers to the use of nature in tackling today’s environmental challenges such as climate change, environmental pollution, food security, water resources management, natural disaster risk management, etc. As such we want to support the use of vegetation/green infrastructure in the design, organization, management and spatial planning of urbanized regions, thereby improving the quality of life of its inhabitants.


Within the context of the URBAN-MYCOSERVE projectyou will be responsible for quantifying tree health, growth response andecosystem services provided by model tree species and identify the mediatingrole of EM community composition, richness and functional diversity. Therefore,you will use noninvasive spectral and physiological sensing technology andurban biophysical models. You will as such be responsible for setting-up andexecuting a continuous monitoring experiment on several model trees indifferent cities. You will closely cooperate with a postdoc at the Plant Population and Conservation Biologygroup of KU Leuven who will provide the EM community data, and with the otherproject partners.

You will further:

  • assistin a limited amount of teaching activities (related to remote sensing, GIS,landscape & urban ecology)
  • advise PhD and M.Sc. students
  • generatescientific output


  • You hold a PhD degree in bioscience engineering, environmental sciences, biology or closely related field. Experience in multiple areas is an advantage
  • Extensive experience and proven expertise in noninvasive spectral and physiologicalsensing technology, data management and data processing, environmental modelingand related software packages
  • You have a good publication record relative to your career stage
  • You are responsible, can work both independently and in a team, show initiative andseize opportunities
  • You hold leadershipskills (e.g. project coordination/management and networking)
  • You have good written and oral communicationskills in English
  • You get things done.


You start with a 1-yearcontract, renewable after positive evaluation for another year. We offer a verycompetitive salary with various additional benefits (in terms of holidays,health insurance, transport costs), excellent research facilities, andconference and travel budget. The start date is March 1st 2017.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Ben Somers, tel.: +32 16 37 91 01, mail:
You can apply for this job no later than January 27, 2017 via the online application tool
KU Leuven

KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

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