PhD in Tree-species-specific resilience to drought

Updated: about 1 month ago
Job Type: Permanent

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The professorship of Forest Ecology at ETH Zürich is dynamic interdisciplinary research team that examines both theoretical and applied questions in forest ecology and dynamics. We are seeking a highly motivated and qualified person to fill a doctorate position to study tree species-specific resilience to drought. This research opportunity presents a chance for a driven and capable individual to delve into the complexities of climate change impacts on forest ecosystem functioning, with a particular emphasis on drought events. We offer excellent facilities in a relaxing work atmosphere with many opportunities for collaboration within and beyond the group.

Project background

Climate change, and in particular drought events, are increasingly threatening European forests. The resilience of future forests depends, among others, on species composition and species-specific vulnerability to drought. The aim of this study is centred around a comprehensive exploration of the drought resilience displayed by native and non-native tree species, with the ultimate goal of discerning their potential roles in shaping the forests of the future. We will focus on mixed-species forests across Switzerland using growth traits and tree physiological proxies to assess the responses to extreme drought years, and the cumulative impact of climate change. This study will produce a holistic perspective on how diverse tree species react to changing climatic conditions.

Job description

The successful candidate main duties will involve:

  • Field work in forests across Switzerland
  • Laboratory work with a focus on dendrochronological and wood anatomical procedures
  • Statistical analysis of the collected data and interpretation of the results
  • Publishing scientific papers and presenting findings at conferences and workshops
  • Contribute to teaching and outreach activity
  • Collaborating with the team to contribute to a broader understanding of climate change impacts on forest ecosystems

The 4-year PhD position is based in the Professorship of Forest Ecology at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. There will be a requirement to take courses at ETH Zurich as part of the PhD training program.

Your profile
  • A MSc degree in forest sciences, forestry; environmental sciences; geography or a related field
  • Enthusiasm for ecological research and curiosity regarding forest dynamics, forest growth and climate change
  • Experience in fieldwork
  • Programming skills in R
  • Interest in scientific outreach
  • Strong teamwork and communication and writing skills in English, enabling effective collaboration and the preparation of scientific publications and reports
  • Ability to work independently and in a goal-oriented manner and to quickly familiarize with new topics

Your workplace

Your workplace

We offer
  • Opportunity to contribute to cutting-edge research in a field of utmost ecological significance
  • Access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources at ETH Zürich's Forest Ecology Group
  • Collaborative and intellectually stimulating research environment
  • Supportive supervision from experienced faculty members
  • Competitive stipend and benefits package

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Curious? So are we.

Interested candidates are invited to submit their application, including

  • a CV
  • cover letter
  • academic transcripts
  • contact information for references

Shortlisted applicants will be contacted for interviews.

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

The position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found. We expect to hold interviews at the end of October or early November and expect the position to start in January 2024.

For inquiries please contact Prof. Andreas Rigling, e-mail:

About ETH Zürich

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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