PhD Student

Last application date
Sep 01, 2022 00:00
LA20 - Department of Environment
Limited duration
University, preferably bio-engineer, biology, ecology
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

THE ROYAL MUSEUM FOR CENTRAL AFRICA is recruiting a scientific employee in wood research (m/f/x)


The Royal Museum for Central Africa is one of ten Federal Scientific Institutions (FSI) that fall under the authority of the State Secretary for Federal Science Policy. It is a scientific institution and a museum.

The RMCA is looking for a scientific collaborator to strengthen the team of the wood biology service.

The TREE4FLUX project supports the participation of the Wood Biology Service of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in the eddy covariance (EC) CongoFlux tower in Yangambi (D.R.Congo), in collaboration with Ghent University. The RMCA part of this project aims to further develop forest research on the ground, in support of the CongoFlux data. Specifically, the focus is on three types of permanent forest inventory plots (intensive, large-scale and geographically dispersed). The project will re-measure and further expand this plot network. The data from the plots will be used to validate, supplement and amplify the EC data from CongoFlux. The plots are mainly located in Yangambi.

By linking the RMCA and UGent infrastructures, TREE4FLUX will make Yangambi the first 'supersite' that measures the CO2 fluxes in the African tropical rainforest. Combined data enable robust upscaling of CO2 fluxes, which can be used to optimize references for national and international policy.

The specific focus of this position:

  • to properly identify tree species in a new large-scale plot, by evaluating local botanical knowledge through modern techniques (e.g. DNA analysis, DART-TOFMS),
  • detailed measurement of tree growth (wood formation) with classical inventory methods (measuring tape) and with dendrometers,
  • measuring woody decay rates in intensive plots, to better estimate how quickly carbon is released from dead trees in a plot,µ
  • quantifying tree growth, mortality and woody decay rate per tree species, with an analysis of the relationship between these vital rates and species-specific wood anatomical and functional characteristics.


As a scientific employee, you will carry out the following assignments:

  • preparing fieldwork in DRCongo,
  • sampling (wood, leaves) to evaluate botanical identifications,
  • measuring tree growth,
  • measure woody decay rate,
  • laboratory analysis (DNA, DART, microscopic examination of wood anatomy),
  • analysis of data using standard programs (eg R).

Job profile

Job-related competencies:

  • willingness and (possibly) experience to organize scientific fieldwork, preferably with a focus on tropical forest.
  • communication skills: you are responsible for scientific reporting of the results and for contacts with various scientific and logistical partners.
  • data analysis skills: you are familiar with the basic methods of data storage and statistics.
  • knowledge of wood anatomy. You have successfully completed a relevant academic course on the microscopic structure of wood.
  • Autonomy, accuracy and organizational skills.
  • Degree required: University degree in bioengineering, biology or ecology.
  • Experience Required: No Professional Experience Required.

We offer

  • A contract of 3 years as a scientific employee (possibly renewable).
  • The possibility to register as a PhD student at Ghent University and to follow a Doctoral Schools track.
  • A wage in accordance with the scales of the federal government (minimum starting salary SW10: EUR 41,232.86 gross indexed annual salary).
  • An interesting holiday arrangement.
  • Free commuting by public transport or bicycle allowance.
  • A pleasant working atmosphere in a dynamic working environment with attention to equal opportunities and diversity.

How to apply

Please send your CV with cover letter by e-mail to with reference TREE4FLUX before September 1, 2022.

Only applications that match the profile and that are sent within the foreseen term will be accepted and answered. Interviews will take place on September 16.

For more information about:

  • the function: Wannes Hubau,
  • the working conditions: An Spegelaere, 02 769 52 90,
  • the RMCA: