The project

The global ocean comprises – together with the terrestrial biosphere – the most significant sink for man-made carbon dioxide (CO2). Recent studies suggest that 10-15% of the annual marine net uptake of CO2 occurs in coastal/shelf seas, however, air-sea CO2 fluxes and their variations in time in these regions are to-date insufficiently constrained by observations. This is largely the result of complex processes linked to the biological carbon pump and the resulting spatial heterogeneity of carbon source and sink regions. In order to measure the success of climate mitigation strategies and emission reductions, we need to better understand regional ocean CO2 sinks and the processes at play in the coastal oceans. Are you up for this challenge?

We offer

  • A 4-year fully funded PhD project in a vibrant and international environment at Innovocean Campus and in the MarSens research group on campus De Sterre of Ghent University
  • A salary according to diploma/experience (salary scales of the Flemish Government); Relevant experience can be considered
  • Additional benefits: holiday allowance, work and hospitalisation insurance, coverage of tuition fees for enrolment as a PhD student at UGent for 4 years,
  • A good work-life balance including 35 days off, flexible working hours within a 38-hour working week and the possibility to work partly from home;
  • Opportunities for personal development (training).
  • Opportunities to join the UGent doctoral training programme (  with specialist courses and transferrable skills seminars

Your tasks

  • Combine in-situ and remote sensing measurements with machine learning tools to improve our understanding of the coastal carbon cycle with focus on the biological carbon pump
  • Investigate the effects of a changing climate on the marine carbon cycle, benefitting from the richness of in-situ data collected, e.g., through the ICOS project and the VLIZ marine robotics
  • Add to the closure of the marine carbon budget of the Belgian Part of the North Sea (BPNS) in support of climate assessment studies and carbon mitigation efforts
For each function, VLIZ considers enthusiastic involvement, service minded, excellent professionalism and integrity as important characteristics.

Your profile

  • You have a Master degree in Natural Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Sciences, etc), Mathematics or Informatics (required)
  • You are enthusiastic about big data analyses, machine learning, and remote sensing (required); previous experience with these tools is a plus.
  • You are proficient in at least 1 programming language (required)
  • You are enthusiastic about the opportunity to conduct fieldwork (optional)

About us

Over the last 20 years, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) has become a knowledge institution indispensable to the marine research landscape. VLIZ initiates and carries out multidisciplinary research and supports marine experts by providing research infrastructure, data, information and knowledge. VLIZ supports the blue economy and reaches out to a broad public. VLIZ further broadens its marine horizons and aims at becoming a world player in the field of marine and coastal research. A stimulating working environment forms the base of our flourishing knowledge institute. The well-being of our employees comes first. VLIZ is looking for colleagues who, with their passion and knowledge, want to strengthen our growing institute and face the blue challenges of the future.

Ghent University is a world-class, open, pluralistic, and socially engaged university that conducts in-depth research within a wide range of scientific domains. Our credo is Dare to Think: we are a haven for courageous thinkers ! The Marine optics and remote sensing (MarSens) research group (Faculty of Science, department of Biology) performs cutting-edge research on biological carbon in open ocean and coastal environments using optical sensors. Our research approach encompasses optical modeling, laboratory and field work, instrument development, and observations from marine robotics and satellite platforms.

Additional information

For more information concerning this vacancy, please contact VLIZ research director Dr Peter Landschützer ( and Prof. Dr Griet Neukermans (

Does this vacancy appeal to you?

Send the following documents no later than 21 July 2023:

  • a letter of motivation (up to 2 pages, clearly mentioning your possible start date);
  • an example of previous programming/visualisation/cartographic work;
  • an academic CV (up to 2 pages), including a grade list (when you haven’t finished your degree yet, just provide us with the partial list of already available credits and grades);
  • contact details of an academic referee;
  • title, abstract, and academic promoters of your MSc thesis.

The preferential start date for this PhD position is 1 September 2023. There is some flexibility, so please clearly state in your motivation letter when you can start the position.

  • By mail: “> with subject “Vacancy 2023-010 PhD Position”
  • By post: Jan Mees, General director, InnovOcean Campus, Jacobsenstraat 7, 8400 Oostende, Belgium

You can contact us by telephone on +32 (0)59 33 60 00.

VLIZ promotes equality and diversity in the workplace. You will be recruited based on competencies. Qualities of people are decisive, regardless of gender, religion, ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation or any disability.
Do you have a disability? Please attach a document to your application so that we can adapt our selection procedure where necessary. This information will be handled with discretion.


Based on the received cover letters and CVs; a select group of candidates will be invited for a job interview. We anticipate the first round of job interviews taking place in the offices of VLIZ on 18 August 2023.

Further information about this opportunity, click here.