PhD Project – Early warning signals for changes in bee health

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We are looking for

Honeybees are important beneficial insects for pollinator dependent crop production. For optimisation of pollination potential, keeping managed honeybee colonies healthy is essential. To ensure the colony’s health the beekeeper needs to monitor the health status of the colonies and to decide whether or not to take action. Preferably in a timely matter, so diseases will not spread and/or chances for winter losses of colonies are small. However, currently accurate and early predictors for changes in bee health are lacking, and monitoring protocols are disturbing for the colonies and tedious for beekeepers.

In this (fully funded) PhD project, the candidate will investigate early warning signals for changes in bee health. The project will involve working with stressed and healthy honey bee colonies in apiaries at the research institute and with local beekeepers. Monitoring bee health will involve the use of both state of the art and new sensor technology. The candidate will conduct experiments and coordinate experiments in several EU countries, and participate in a large research team of beekeepers and researchers. The project will also involve statistical data analysis and mathematical modelling.

The PhD project is part of a large 4-year EU (h2020) program B-GOOD (Giving Beekeeping Guidance by cOmputatiOnal-assisted Decision making), involving 15 other EU partners. Communication between the partners and travelling to their apiaries will be part of the PhD project. The starting date of the project will be June 1st 2019. The candidate will be appointed at the Business Unit Biointeractions and Plant Health (WPR) and supervised together with REG (WU).

We ask

We are looking for a motivated, enthusiastic and analytically strong candidate with a broad range of academic competences and a (potential) interest in honeybees and the use of sensor technology. The candidate should have proven affinity with statistical analyses and mathematical modelling, good communication and writing skills, and enjoy to work in an international multidisciplinary team. Preferably, you are a skilled organiser and able to oversee a variety of tasks. Proficiency in English (both oral and written) is a prerequisite. This position requires an excellent English language proficiency (a mininum of CEFR C1 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page. The applicant must hold a relevant MSc degree (e.g., Animal Sciences, Biology, Veterinary Medicine).

We offer

  • A versatile job in Wageningen as part of a multidisciplinary team within an international environment involved in a wide variety of activities and with many opportunities for personal development.
  • We provide a 4-year position as a PhD researcher. We offer a temporary contract for 12 months, which will be extended by another 36 months after a positive evaluation.
  • The job is scaled under job profile PhD student and will start with a salary of EUR 2.260,= gross per month in the first year and will increase up to EUR 2.890,= in the fourth year (fulltime, 36 hours per week). We offer an attractive benefits package, including an additional holiday allowances (8%), an end-of-year bonus (3%) and a pension scheme.

More information

If you interested and have additional questions, please contact Coby van Dooremalen, Researcher Honey bee Health at WPR, via or +31 317 482578.

Your application will be given full consideration if you apply before May 1, 2019.
You can only apply via the website of Wageningen University & Research: 

Upload the following documents: – letter of motivation – CV – list of grades (bachelor and master, or equivalent) – contact information of 2 references – if already available: your thesis

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at the special career site.

Wageningen Plant Research is part of Wageningen University & Research. The Biointeractions & Plant Health business unit focuses on solutions for diseases and pests in agriculture and horticulture. While current crop protection agents reduce yield losses, they often have a negative impact on people and the environment. Bio-interactions & Plant Health develops solutions such as biological crop protection and resilient cropping systems, offering opportunities for sustainable food production worldwide. We study harmful and beneficial insects, fungi, viruses and bacteria and analyse their effect on plant health above and below ground. Our work on beneficial insects includes studies on honey bee health.

The Resource Ecology Group (REG) is part of Wageningen University. REG studies how humans affect wildlife, directly as well as indirectly. We address fundamental scientific challenges on wildlife ecology as well as questions related to wildlife conservation. We embrace field-based, experimental and theoretical studies, and we work at levels of biological organization ranging from individuals to ecosystems. REG is embedded in the department of Environmental Sciences (ESG) of Wageningen University. ESG carries out fundamental and applied research and provides academic education related to our environment: nature, landscape, land usage, adaptation to climate change, water and ocean management, and the various competing claims on space. This also includes biodiversity and the sustainability of management and production.

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