VLIZ recruits: Researcher Molecular Traits in Marine Ecology | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

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VLIZ recruits: Researcher Molecular Traits in Marine Ecology

Join our Research Department as a researcher in molecular traits in plankton ecosystem functions and processes. This research will be performed in close collaboration with a post-doctoral researcher working on the same research line. Through collaboration with an academic promotor, the researcher is expected to pursue a PhD at a Flemish university.

Researcher molecular traits in plankton ecosystem functions and processes

Natural ecosystems are often too complex to study them under controlled laboratory conditions. Organisms interact with their environment in multifaceted ways. Our understanding of how species traits, species interactions and evolution of individual species contribute to ecosystem functions is therefore still very fragmentary. Nevertheless, we urgently need better insights in the functioning of ecosystems to predict how they will change under anthropogenic pressures such as global warming or ocean acidification.

In this research line, VLIZ aims to unravel important processes in natural plankton communities such as ecosystem functions, and mutualist and antagonistic interactions among different species using an ecosystems biology approach. Specifically, VLIZ wants to use high throughput sequencing to describe the composition (metagenomics) and functions (meta-transcriptomics) of eukaryotic micro- and nanoplankton communities. This information will be used to model relevant ecosystem processes such as biogeochemical cycling. VLIZ is furthermore interested to investigate how such processes will alter under various scenarios of global change.

The study area is primarily the southern North Sea, where field surveys can readily be conducted to cover seasonal and spatial dynamics of plankton communities. Next to the regional focus, we will encourage collaboration in international consortia to work on global datasets. Within this context, VLIZ wants to address the following research questions:

  1. Which key species and key traits are essential for the pelagic ecosystem of the North Sea?
  2. Which important ecosystem functions can we derive from plankton meta-transcriptomics data?

In a later stage, we aim to incorporate these molecular trait based ecosystem functions in ecosystem models to investigate biogeochemical processes, and use these models to predict the effect of anthropogenic change.

Our offer

  • A challenging job in the dynamic environment of VLIZ.
  • A contract of two years as researcher, which will be followed by a new two-year contract in case of a positive evaluation. The salary follows the salary scales of scientific personnel in the Flemish Government.
  • Fringe benefits: holiday pay, end-of-year bonus, meal vouchers, hospitalization insurance, bike allowance, free public transport for home-work commuting and an attractive holiday arrangement.

Your main responsibilities

  • To plan and perform a research project on the use of meta-transcriptomics data to unravel ecosystem functions of diverse eukaryotic micro- and nanoplankton communities. This involves the planning and performance of sampling campaigns, sample and data processing, data analysis, and modelling;
  • To take initiative to discuss planning and report progress to the head of the research unit and collaborating scientists;
  • To write high quality research manuscripts for submitting to peer-reviewed scientific journals;
  • To supervise BSc and MSc students for job student, internship or thesis work;
  • To interact and collaborate with colleagues at VLIZ to increase interdisciplinarity in various research projects;
  • To possibly contribute to aspects of research and innovation projects in collaboration with partners from the Blue Economy;
  • To present research at national and international conferences;
  • To network at national and international level with other (marine) scientists;
  • To contribute to events organized by the Department or the Institute, such as the VLIZ Marine Science Day.
For each function, VLIZ considers enthusiastic involvement, open servitude, excellent professionalism and integrity as important characteristics.

Your profile

  • MSc in Exact or Applied Sciences, including biology, bioinformatics and (bioscience) engineering, with a keen interest in molecular ecology and systems biology;
  • Experience with handling DNA and RNA and/or experience with bioinformatics;
  • Experience with mathematical modelling is a plus;
  • Critical and creative;
  • Scientifically integer;
  • Open minded and taking initiative;
  • Passionate scientist, keen to learn new skills and develop excellent research;
  • Strong interpersonal skills, a motivated team player;
  • Willing to work in an international context;
  • Good oral and written English communication skills;
  • Academic writing skills are a plus;
  • Knowledge of statistics;
  • Knowledge of marine ecology, microbiology and interpretation of gene-expression data is a plus.

About us

For 20 years, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) has been strengthening the accumulation of marine knowledge and the excellence of marine scientific research in Flanders. VLIZ is a coordination and information platform, a focal point for marine and coastal research, which also serves as an international contact point for marine science. Important activities are national and international networking, information and data management, scientific communication for policy and industry, education and the general public, and logistical support of marine research. Since 2017, the institute also initiates, promotes and executes innovative and multidisciplinary marine research, and this at the service of, in collaboration with or complementary to Flemish and international marine research groups.

To strengthen its research capacity with research that is in line with priority innovation domains of the Flemish Blue Economy, VLIZ hires a new colleague in its Research Department. Join our multidisciplinary team in Oostende at the Belgian coast. You will work in a unique institute in which your science will be supported by state-of-the-art data systems and services, research infrastructure, science communication and an extensive marine library. Moreover, VLIZ is part of a wide network of Belgian and international marine research groups, offering many opportunities for scientific collaboration.

Additional information

For more information concerning this vacancy, please contact:

Does this vacancy appeal to you?

Send in your cover letter and curriculum vitae no later than Monday 30 September 2019:

You can contact us by telephone on +32 (0)59 34 21 30.

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.


Based on the received motivation letters and CVs, a select group of candidates will be invited for a job interview. You will be informed by e-mail. The interviews take place in the offices of VLIZ. Employment can start immediately after the selection procedure.