2 PhD Positions in Radiocarbon Biogeochemistry (# of pos: 2)

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 30 Aug 2020

Project background

Anthropogenically-induced climate change is inextricably linked with perturbations to the carbon cycle brought on by emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide and methane. Radiocarbon (14C) is unique in its potential to provide direct constraints on the magnitude and pace of carbon exchange between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and terrestrial ecosystems. Building on recent advances in 14C measurements and the emergence of isotope-enabled carbon cycle and earth system models, Radiocarbon Inventories of Switzerland (RICH)is a first-of-its-kind project to use 14C to constrain carbon cycle processes at a national level. RICH is a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) - funded “Sinergia” collaborative project. Our overall approach interweaves 14C measurements of major carbon pools – the atmosphere and terrestrial biosphere, the pedosphere, and the aquatic continuum, with modeling activities – to shed new light on the mechanisms and dynamics of regional-scale exchange between carbon reservoirs. The four research groups and further project partners provide a broad research framework utilizing pre-existing field and laboratory infrastructures, extensive data and sample archives, together with new field campaigns coupled with novel analytical and modelling approaches. We are seeking talented and motivated candidates to build a vibrant team of researchers that will work collaboratively on the various sub-projects within the RICH program.

Job description

The work package led by ETH will examine radiocarbon inventories of dissolved and particulate carbon phases in major river watersheds as well as in corresponding receiving (lake) basins. The first work package (ETH PhD #1) will focus on spatial and temporal variability in 14C characteristics of dissolved and particulate carbon species in rivers draining different Swiss ecoregions. The second work package (ETH PhD #2) will examine carbon inventories, residence times and transport pathways as a function of soil and drainage basin properties. Each project will involve fieldwork and laboratory work, including extensive 14C measurements by accelerator mass spectrometry, as well as data modeling, interpretation and integration. The work packages will be undertaken in close collaboration with co-investigators and project partners at ETH, WSL, the Swiss Federal Institutes of Aquatic Sciences and Technology (Eawag), and the Institut für Seeforschung (ISF-LUBW).

Your profile

We are looking for highly motivated candidates for 2 fully funded 48-month PhD positions (salary according to SNF guidelines ). Applicants must hold a relevant MSc degree or equivalent (e.g., in earth or environmental sciences, chemistry or physics), with prior experience in analytical and quantitative numerical methods. We are seeking candidates that can demonstrate independence, creativity, and strong technical skills. An ability to work in a multidisciplinary cooperative environment and prior experience in fieldwork is also a plus. Fluency in spoken and written English is essential, and a good level in German is useful.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.


The PhD positions should begin before January 1, 2021.

Applications should be submitted through our online application portal before 1st September 2020. The application should include: a curriculum vitae (max: 2 pages), contact details of at least 2 references, and a motivation letter for the position(s) (i.e., ETH PhD #1, #2), indicating how your background and interests match with the requirements for the position(s). Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. In September, we will conduct on-line interviews with shortlisted PhD candidates, potentially followed up by a visit to the host institution.

For further information about the host group please visit our Biogeoscience group website: www.biogeoscience.ethz.ch . Questions regarding the positions should be directed to Prof. Dr. Timothy Eglinton timothy.eglinton@erdw.ethz.ch (no applications).

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