Cynthia van Leeuwen

[2019 - present]

I am a PhD candidate at ISRIC, where I work under the supervision of Gerard Heuvelink, Titia Mulder and Niels Batjes on the development of a soil information system that stores uncertainty information in full, through probability distributions. 

Most soil information systems store soil observations without storing the associated uncertainties. Some have an ‘accuracy’ field, but this is usually unused because accuracy information about soil observations that are entered into the databases is rarely available. It is possible that the metadata that go with the soil data give some kind of summary measure of the accuracy, for instance the root mean squared error of a dataset, but this does not fully capture the uncertainty and is too little information to incorporate uncertainty information in digital soil mapping. The aims of this research project are to (1) design and implement a database for uncertain soil data, (2) analyse how quantitative uncertainty information can be included in digital soil mapping, and (3) analyse how the digital soil mapping results differ from a case in which uncertainty in soil observations is ignored.


I have completed the master Earth Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, following the research track Geo-Ecological Dynamics. I did my MSc thesis in collaboration with the University of Basel, where I have looked into the physical properties of wind erosion, i.e. the threshold friction velocity for PM10 dust emission, while comparing two instruments; a traditional straight-line wind tunnel and a new device, the Portable In-Situ Wind Erosion Lab (PI-SWERL).

I have experience as a teacher’s assistant for various bachelor courses on physics, modelling and programming (2 years) and as an administrative help during the accreditation procedure of an academic program. Prior to my PhD, I have published work on the implementation of soil conservation policies targeting land abandonment and soil erosion in Spain.(