PhD in aerosol science – Infectivity of influenza viruses in expiratory aerosols

Updated: 7 months ago
Job Type: Temporary
Deadline: The position may have been removed or expired!

100%, Zurich, temporary

We invite applications for a PhD position under the supervision of Dr. Ulrich Krieger and Prof. Thomas Peter at the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Project background

This interdisciplinary research project aims to unravel, how ambient conditions, in particular relative humidity (RH) and temperature (T), affect the infectivity of influenza viruses in expiratory aerosol. RH and T have been shown to affect virus infectivity, though their effects depend on the aerosol matrix. What is lacking is a mechanistic understanding of the effects of ambient conditions on virus stability in expiratory aerosols. We hypothesize that virus infectivity is governed by the very fast kinetics of aerosol drying after exhalation, resulting in transient states with thermodynamic non-equilibrium concentrations of organics, salts, surfactants and water in the aerosol matrix, and affecting pH, all of which vary as function of ambient RH.

Job description

The main tasks of the PhD student will be to characterize the composition, morphology and properties of aerosol generated from different respiratory fluids – containing varying portions of mucus – as a function of RH and T and integrate the results into a comprehensive aerosol process model. She/he will perform experiments using an existing single particle levitation setup and a Raman microscope, and compare the results with processed-based numerical simulations. The duration of the PhD project is three years and the position can be taken as soon as possible, preferably not later than 1 April.

Your profile

The successful candidate should hold an MSc degree (or equivalent) in physical chemistry, physics, atmospheric or environmental sciences. The candidate should be curious, creative, collaborative as well as able to think critically about the own measured and modeled data. She/he should be keen on working in an interdisciplinary team consisting of atmospheric scientists and virologists at ETH Zurich, EPF Lausanne and University of Zurich. Prior hands-on laboratory skills are essential. Some experience in aerosol science and numerical modeling will be a plus. Good written and oral communication skills in English are required.

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.

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