PhD Studentship 2019 in Measurement and Management of Soil Contamination in EU and China, Belgium

Ghent University


May 31, 2019

Opportunity Cover Image - PhD Studentship 2019 in Measurement and Management of Soil Contamination in EU and China, Belgium


A PhD studentship in measurement and management of soil contamination in EU and China

Soils may become contaminated by the accumulation of petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs), heavy metals (HMs) and metalloids through emissions from the rapidly expanding industrial areas, mine tailings, disposal of high metal wastes, leaded gasoline and paints, land application of fertilizers, animal manures, sewage sludge, pesticides, wastewater irrigation, coal combustion residues, spillage of petrochemicals, and atmospheric deposition. These different sources of contamination in soil is a crucial problem not only in the EU and China but globally, and can cause serious health problems to human and ecosystems. Results of various environmental studies carried out in heavy industrial area show staggering levels of environmental pollution and adverse effects on biota due to the hazardous nature of PHCs and HMs when released into the environment. Prior to the remediation of the impacted media, a full assessment of the impact of the PHCs and HMs on the environment and/or humans is essential to identifying both the chemistry and the areal extent, to which the PHCs and/or HMs exceed local threshold limit values and providing decision support on the appropriate remedial strategy to adopt for effective cleanup of the environmental media including soil and water. However, a first step of land remediation of both PHCs and HMs is the measurement and mapping of the spatial distribution of contamination that should be done with high sampling density to allow the exploration of the spatial distribution accurately for accurate risk assessment and recommendation of effective remediation strategy. Apart from the traditional techniques available to measure PAH and HMs in soils, which are slow, costly and require special expertise, optical techniques e.g., the visible and near infrared spectroscopy (vis-NIRS), mid infrared spectroscopy (MIRS), x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRFS) and/or the fusion of them are the best candidate solutions to fulfil the requirement of high sampling density that should be provided quickly, and cost-effectively with portable sensing kits to enable in situ measurement and management on soil contaminants. A fully funded PhD scholarship in measurement and management of soil contamination in EU and China is available in Precision Soil and Crop Engineering Group (Precision SCoRing), within the Department of Environment, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University (UGent) in Belgium. We are looking for a top MSc student, to work as a PhD candidate under a recently funded project by the EC under H2020 program, Call Number SFS-38-2018-2020: Sino-EU Soil Observatory for Intelligent Land Use Management (SIEUSOIL). The aim of the project is to introduce and validate a holistic approach for land use and soil management for different crops and climate conditions across EU and China, aiming at minimizing the mining of soil nutrient reserves and the alteration of soil physical and chemical properties for stronger resistance to land degradation, including soil erosion, salinization, acidification, among others. The specific aim of the PhD project is to use advanced proximal soil sensing techniques for measurement and mapping of soil contaminants in EU and China to improve land reclamation and management towards more resilience lands to degradation.

We are looking for top students with a MSc degree obtained between September 2019 and not earlier than September 2016. Successful candidates will have the following responsibilities:

  • Run your PhD project and deliver the project results in a timely manner.
  • Submission of high quality publications in international journals.
  • Link and integrate with research project of the other PhD students in the group as deemed appropriate.
  • Contribute to group activities as requested by your promoters that are within the remit of the role and the grant, and the associated grade. This may include: 1. Supporting and collaborating with MSc and PhD students. 2. Contribution to teaching programmes if requested to do so. 3. Assist in other activates in the group as deemed necessary.

Profile of the candidate

The candidate should fulfil the following requirements:

  • Have or will soon have a MSc degree in Environmental Engineering, Agriculture Engineering, or Biosystems Engineering.
  • Should have knowledge in the use of basic software and modelling languages, such as, MATLAB Toolbox, LabVIEW, R, ArcGIS, C++…..
  • Should have basic knowledge in the use of optical techniques (e.g., vis-NIR, MIR, or XRF spectrometry), multivariate statistics, machine learning, and GIS.
  • Good contextual understanding of agricultural-environmental interface, soil contamination and reclamation and risk assessment of contamination lands.µ
  • The candidate should have a high level of proficiency in English sufficient to communicate effectively with colleagues and write papers and reports.
  • Good practical problem solver / Ability to find appropriate solutions to academic and technical problems.
  • Ability to work as a member of a team within a dynamic research group.


We offer a fully funded PhD scholarship starting anytime between 1st June 2019 and 1st September 2019. We offer approx. €2000 per month based on a full working week (38 hours).


Candidates will have the opportunity to work within a stimulating research environment within the Precision SCoRing Group with interdisciplinary team comprised of agricultural engineers, mechatronics engineers, electrical engineers, soil scientists, agronomists and data mining experts, where many international collaborations are foreseen.

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

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Eligible Countries
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Publish Date
May 06, 2019