Postdoctoral Researcher on mitigation of N2O emissions from biological wastewater treatment using isotopic constraints (a)
Materials science and technology are our passion. With our cutting-edge research, Empa's around 1,100 employees make essential contributions to the well-being of society for a future worth living. Empa is a research institution of the ETH Domain.
The project contributes to SCENE (Swiss Center of Excellence on Net-Zero Emissions), a joint initiative in the strategic area Energy, Climate and Sustainable Environment of the ETH Domain. SCENE covers a broad range of research areas related to net-zero. The open position is located in a sub-project focusing on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from wastewater treatment.

Recent research reveals that the potent GHG and ozone depleting substance nitrous oxide (N2O) dominates GHG emissions from biological wastewater treatment. The development of effective operational strategies to avoid N2O generation requires detailed process knowledge. Isotope measurements of N2O are a powerful way to improve our process understanding and thus guide the development of N2O reduction measures.

We are looking for a highly motivated postdoc experienced in analytical chemistry, preferably with a background in nitrogen isotope analysis and/or optical spectroscopy.
Job description, responsibilities and tasks
  • Implement and validate an automated setup for spectroscopic analysis of N2O concentration and isotopic composition.
  • Design and perform experiments on pilot-scale and full-scale wastewater treatment plants to quantify N2O emissions and isotopic fingerprints under standard operation and optimized conditions. Collect auxiliary parameters, e.g. reactant concentrations and 15N/14N, in the aqueous phase. The measurement campaigns will be planned and conducted in collaboration with Eawag experts in process engineering.
  • Interpret results with respect to source processes to improve the parametrization of models established by a fellow-postdoctoral researcher at Eawag focussing on model development.
  • Communicate results in project reports, at meetings, conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.
Required skills
  • PhD degree in chemistry, natural sciences or a related discipline.
  • Solid background in analytics, automation, isotope analysis and / or optical spectroscopy
  • Good understanding of the nitrogen biogeochemical cycle and N2O formation pathways.
  • Experience and strong flair for experimental research on engineered systems.
  • Willingness to collaborate in a team environment with technicians, process engineers and operating staff at treatment plants.
  • Software skills (e.g. Python, MATLAB or R).
  • Ability to communicate scientific results in peer-reviewed journals and at conferences.
  • Fluency in English is required; basic knowledge of German is a plus.
Our offer
We are offering a multifaceted and challenging position for 2 years (with the possibility of extension) in a modern research environment with excellent infrastructure. Working place will be Empa in Dübendorf.

Appointments start preferably by fall/winter 2023. All applications received before 5 August 2023 will receive full consideration.
«a» stands for «all» in our job advertisements. We live a culture of inclusion and respect. We welcome all people who are interested in innovative, sustainable and meaningful activities. That's what counts - not age, gender, origin, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
We look forward to receiving your complete online application including a letter of motivation, CV, transcripts of diplomas and contact details of two referees. Please submit these exclusively via our job portal. Applications by e-mail and by post will not be considered.
Applications will be reviewed by experts of Empa & Eawag.
David Heusser, Bereichspersonalleiter / HR Partner
  Dr. Joachim Mohn
Group Leader
Air Pollution / Environmental Technology
+41 58 765 4687
Your future place of work
Ueberlandstrasse 129
8600 Dübendorf
Empa as an employer
Innovative, sustainable, meaningful activities
Creating added value for society
International, multicultural working environment
Freedom to create and develop
Culture of inclusion and respect
Excellent balance between different areas of life
Multiple award-winning and certified employer
Benefits for rail, mobile, childcare, catering, etc.