PhD Candidate: Computational Techniques for Filling Data Gaps in Life Cycle Assessment

Are you interested in exploring, developing and applying new computational techniques to fill environmental sustainability data gaps? Then join our environmental science group for a 4-year PhD position focused on filling gaps in life cycle inventory data to improve the quantification of product environmental footprints. You will be part of an international team dedicated to solving environmental sustainability challenges in a collaborative project between Radboud University and Unilever's Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre.

Life cycle inventory (LCI) data represent the material and energy requirements as well as emissions of production processes, forming the backbone of environmental life cycle assessments (LCAs). However, there remains a wide gap between the diversity of real-world production systems (and associated processes) and LCI data available to represent them. You will explore, develop, and apply computational techniques, including machine-learning approaches, to fill data gaps. Gaps can be filled by extrapolating requirements of production processes across similar locations or extrapolating production processes across similar products. The focus will be on agricultural production systems. This project includes data compilation for material and energy requirements and emissions, the development of computational techniques to generate new LCI data, and an application to quantify product footprints and evaluate the implications of using LCI databases enhanced by imputed data. It is expected that 10% of the workload will be spent on education.



  • You should hold an MSc degree in data science, computer science, engineering, or one of the natural sciences.
  • You have experience in computational techniques for data analysis and preferably machine learning.
  • You have affinity with life cycle assessment (LCA).
  • You have a solid basis in at least one common high-level programming language (e.g., R, Python, Matlab).
  • You enjoy conducting collaborative research in international teams.
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English.

We are

You will be based at the Department of Environmental Science of Radboud University (Nijmegen, Netherlands), but will regularly visit Unilever's Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC) in the UK.

The mission of the Environmental Science Group of the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES) is to provide high-quality scientific knowledge that can help the world move towards greater sustainability. To achieve this, we aim to understand, project and address the impact of anthropogenic pressures on ecosystems and humans from the landscape to the global scale.This will enable us to explore and develop wide-ranging sustainable solutions for the environmental challenges the world faces today.

SEAC is a key part of the Unilever research and development (R&D) organisation with responsibility for safety and environmental assurance. As well as assuring consumer and occupational safety, SEAC also conducts environmental sustainability impact assessments and safety risk assessments that are underpinned by robust science across many scientific disciplines. These include toxicology, ecotoxicology, environmental sustainability, chemistry (analytical and mechanistic), computational science, modelling, informatics, microbiology and process safety.  

Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!


We offer

  • It concerns an employment for 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,541 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,247 in the fourth year (salary scale P).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.


Additional employment conditions

Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


Would you like more information?

For questions about the position, please contact Koen Kuipers, Postdoctoral Researcher at Alternatively, you can contact Sarah Sim, Professor of Corporate Environmental Sustainability at
Read more / apply
  • Application deadline: Dec 16, 2022
  • Radboud University
  • Department of Environmental Science
  • Nijmegen, the Netherlands
  • PhD and Postdoc Positions
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