PhD Candidate

PhD Researcher on new frontiers of data collection for industrial ecology and sustainability

The Faculty of Science and Institute of Environmental Sciences CML is looking for a:


PhD Researcher on new frontiers of data collection for industrial ecology and sustainability
Vacancy number: 14147


Key responsibilities 
In order to curb over-exploitation of natural resources and prevent further ecological pressure, we need more and better data on the production and composition of products, and their supply chains. Such data helps sustainability practitioners and decision makers to make choices about sustainability that affect the ability of society to live within planetary boundaries. 
Data, however, is difficult to obtain due to multiple factors such as the sheer lack of financial and human resources to perform data collection, or even confidentiality. Novel computer science methods from the field of artificial intelligence in combination with traditional data collection approaches and engineering methods, could finally allow scientists to overcome these barriers and make vast amount of quality data available to support sustainability decision making tackling societal environmental challenges.


Your main responsibility as a PhD candidate in this project will be to work on this new scientific frontier in the field of sustainability science. You will investigate how to overcome data availability barriers by adopting a combination of field work, artificial intelligence methods and simulation tools to expand the coverage of databases commonly used in the industrial ecology community (e.g., Life Cycle Inventories, Material Flow and Input-Output databases).


The PhD researcher will focus on:

  • Investigating how artificial intelligence methods can facilitate data collection
  • Investigating simulations tools that can be coupled to Life Cycle Inventory Modelling and Material Flow Analysis
  • Developing open source software and databases
  • Engaging with potential data providers


The Institute of Environmental Science CML at Leiden University offers a vibrant and supportive community of scientists committed to the challenges of sustainability, with a multidecade record of leading the field of industrial ecology in Life Cycle Assessment, Material Flow Analysis and Environmental Input-Output Analysis. CML distinguishes itself for its attention to professional development in coordination with the interests of its scientists. As such, there are plenty of opportunities to learn new skills, expand your knowledge, collaborate across disciplines, and experiment in a friendly environment fully embodying academic freedom across all career levels. 


Selection Criteria

For applicants at the PhD researcher level:

  • You hold a master's degree in the field of industrial ecology, environmental sciences, computer science, mechanical or process engineering or another related fields. 
  • You have programming skills (e.g. Python or other languages) and documented expertise (e.g. master's thesis) in software development, or are enthusiastic to learn
  • You have experience with - or knowledge of - industrial ecology methods (e.g. Life Cycle Assessment, Material Flow Analysis,  Environmentally-extended input-output analysis (EEIO). 
  • You are intellectually curious, possess good analytical skills, are self-propelled, flexible, and quality conscious and have recorded experience in planning and executing research tasks within a given timeframe. 
  • You have excellent social and communication skills and the ability to interact with other researchers, industry and policy actors. 
  • You have excellent English language skills in writing and speaking, 


Our organization
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.


The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,300 staff and almost 5,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.
The Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) is positioned in the Faculty of Sciences. The core focus of CML is to perform research and education in the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Sciences. CML focuses on the sustainable use of natural resources and preservation of natural capital and biodiversity. CML has a culture of mutual support and collaboration between researchers. CML has two Departments: Industrial Ecology (CML-IE) and Environmental Biology (CML-EB). Presently, about 140 fte (including postdocs and PhDs) are employed at CML. CML further collaborates with  TU Delft and Erasmus University in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability (LDE-CfS), Naturalis Biodiversity Centre.


For more information, see Information about CML can be found at


Terms and conditions  
We offer a 1-year position with the possibility of extension to 4 years based on performance. Salary ranges from € 2.770.- gross per month in the first year to € 3.539 gross per month in the fourth year based on a full-time position (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).  
Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.   


Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries can be made to dr. Franco Donati ( 


Please submit your application via the online recruitment system, via the blue button at the top or bottom of this page. Applications received via e-mail will not be taken into consideration. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • A CV.
  • A motivation letter.
  • Name and contact details of at least two referees.


Only applications received before 12th of November can be considered.

Read more / apply
  • Application deadline: Nov 12, 2023
  • Leiden University, CML
  • Industrial Ecology
  • Leiden, The Netherlands
  • PhD Positions
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