Empa - the place where innovation starts

Empa is the research institute for materials science and technology of the ETH Domain and conducts cutting-edge research for the benefit of industry and the well-being of society.

In line with Empa’s mission, its Technology and Society Laboratory (TSL) creates and transfers knoweldge to support the transition to a more sustainability society. In particular, TSL analyses novel materials and emerging technology applications with a focus on associated material and energy stocks and flows, and evaluates them with regard to both natural environment and societal constraints.


For our project "Constraint Aware Pathways to the Post-Fossil Swiss City" (CAPATHITY), which will be funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and carried out within the Swiss National Research Programme (NRP) 73 "Sustainable Economy", we are looking for a
PhD student in Material Flow Analysis (MFA)

The CAPATHITY project aims at supporting stakeholders in identifying both visionary and realistic pathways to reach a post-fossil economy for the case of the Swiss City, a fictional built environment covering all Switzerland. It will do so by developing a simulation game enabling stakeholders to identify trajectories towards possible manifestations of the "Swiss City" in 2050, and to challenge them with numerical simulation approaches allowing for both a dynamic representation of resulting direct and indirect stocks and flows and their evaluation regarding material, technological, environmental and societal constraints. The simulation game will include role play elements, and haptic as well as computerized compontents.


The candidate will be in charge of the following tasks: (i) Support the conceptual development of the simulation game for transitioning the Swiss City into a post-fossil economy; (ii) based on this concept, develop a dynamic MFA model, which simulates the anthropogenic metabolism (material and energy stocks and flows) – this MFA model will serve as the backbone for the simulation game; (iii) calibrate the model using historical data from various sources; (iv) develop scenarios for the transformation of the Swiss City until 2050 – this step requires close collaboration with the development of the game (post-doc) and the simulation system (other PhD student); (v) support the testing and the implementation of the simulation game with stakeholders.

Suitable candidates hold an MSc degree in natural science, engineering, or equivalent with a solid background in mathematics and programming. Prior experiences in material flow analysis or in gaming (game designer, game artist, or game programmer) is an advantage. He or she has strong communication skills (in English and German) and is motivated to work in an inter- and transdisciplinary team.


The successful candidate will conduct his PhD at the Industrial Ecology Programme at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim (http://www.ntnu.no/indecol) and will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Daniel B. Müller, where the candidate will stay for at least two semesters. The main working place will be at Empa in St. Gallen.

For further information please contact Dr. Patrick Wäger (+41 58 765 78 45; patrick.waeger@empa.ch) or Prof. Dr. Daniel Müller (+47 9189 7755; daniel.mueller@ntnu.no) and visit our websites www.empa.ch/web/s506 and Empa-Video

We look forward to receiving your online application including a letter of motivation, CV, diplomas with transcripts and contact details of two referees. 

Deadline for the application is November 15, 2017. Please upload the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered.

Empa, Esther Zürcher, Human Resources, Lerchenfeldstrasse 5, 9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland.