PhD Opportunity // Modelling and Optimisation of Spatio-temporal Patterns of flows in the Urban Food-Water-Energy Nexus

Developing sustainable future cities depends on the opportunities to optimally integrate and mobilize food, water and energy resources in a synergistic way to reduce water, carbon, and ecological footprints, and increase the community resilience against challenges exacerbated by climate change, population growth, and resources depletion. This project aims to generate actionable information by analysing the distributed production and storage of materials and energy flows into, out of, and within a community/city given their consumption patterns and supply chains associated with various food-water-energy (FWE) nexuses.

The objectives of the PhD will be to model and study the spatio-temporal patterns in the flow of materials and energy, and how the integration of different FWE technologies impacts the city’s sustainable growth. With Dutch cities (eg. Amsterdam) as a case study, we will explore the emergence of urban metabolic models from data of resource use over many years, and explore future strategic change under different demographic, socio-economic, climate change scenarios.   

This PhD is part of ENLARGE, a EUR 1.5m project funded through the Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative (SUGI)/Food-Water-Energy Nexus call jointly established by the Belmont Forum and the Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe.     


The project coordinators are looking for highly talented and driven candidates, who

  • have a relevant MSc degree in Systems Engineering, Operations Research, Computer Science, Urban Planning or a related Applied Sciences field (such as Agricultural Science or Management Science)
  • have an analytical and quantitative approach toward problem solving and proficient in a programming language (eg. Matlab, Python)
  • have a proven background and interest in mathematical modelling and data analytics skills or be willing to invest in developing expertise in these research techniques;
  • are interested in decision support tools,
  • knowledge about urban infrastructure (eg. water supply, energy supply, etc.), industrial ecology or sustainability concepts is a plus. Experience in data processing and visualization is also an advantage.
  • have excellent writing skills, as evidenced by a writing sample, such as a chapter from your Master’s Thesis or a (forthcoming or published) article or presented conference paper. 
  • you should be fluent in English as you will participate in an international research team and will publish internationally.   

Salary Benefits

TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.

More Information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Edo Abraham, assistant professor, e-mail:


To apply, please e-mail a detailed CV, proof of English language proficiency, abstract of your MSc thesis (1 page), a 1 page motivation about your ideas of an approach and methodology to optimize food-water-energy resources, to (mention vacancy number CiTG18.20). This should be done by 21st of May 2018. Please make sure to include in your document examples of projects in which you successfully demonstrate your mathematical modelling and technical and analytical skills.   

About Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) is a multifaceted institution offering education and carrying out research in the technical sciences at an internationally recognised level. Education, research and design are strongly oriented towards applicability. TU Delft develops technologies for future generations, focusing on sustainability, safety and economic vitality. At TU Delft you will work in an environment where technical sciences and society converge. TU Delft comprises eight faculties, unique laboratories, research institutes and schools.

› back


HLPF Nexus Side Event Presentation // Addressing Resilience through the Nexus of Water-Food-Energy – Cities as SDG Laboratories

By Felix Dodds. The Nexus community is growing in numbers, in depth of analysis and in influence. While the focus of the existing Nexus is on Water, Energy, Food, and Climate, the time has come to consider applying the approach more widely as it can help to enhance the understanding of connections among other issue such as health, gender, human mobility, population growth and other matters pertaining to the 2030 Agenda.

// more
Solar-powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS)

Getting Pumped // A Quest to Finance Solar Irrigation in Kenya

By Evgenia Sokolova. Solar pumping is a well established technology. But financing solar irrigation can be difficult, escpeially for small farmers.

// more
Sanitation and Wastewater

Water Supply in Southeast Asia // "Water is life, contaminated water might mean death"

By Ruth Ehrbeck. 2.1 billion (3 in 10) people worldwide lack access to safe, readily available water, 4.5 billion (6 in 10) people worldwide lack safely managed sanitation, though there is a human right to water and sanitation! The energy cost for pumping water and treating waste water closely links water and energy. As part of the Urban Nexus Programme, GIZ has set up metering and monitoring schemes in India's city of Rajkot and in Korat in Thailand.

// more