Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, is an internationally networked aquatic research institute within the ETH Domain (Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology). Eawag conducts research, education and expert consulting to achieve the dual goals of meeting direct human needs for water and maintaining the function and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.
The Aquatic Geochemistry Group at Eawag opens a
PhD Student Position in Earth Sciences
The goal of the PhD project is to explore the potential of metal stable isotopes (δ60Ni, δ66Zn, δ114Cd) as emerging proxies for biological productivity. We will work with coupled water column, porewater and marine sediment samples from the subantarctic Southern Ocean. Emerging potential proxies will be compared to more established tracers to build a better mechanistic understanding of the controls on metal distributions in the water column and near-surface sediments. New and established tracers will then be applied in sediment cores spanning the last glacial maxima. The project bridges modern and paleo settings, and aims to understand how signals from modern surface waters are connected to underlying sediments in order to guide future reconstructions based on metal stable isotopes.

The selected PhD candidate will participate in a collaborative, cross-disciplinary project involving international research groups interested in biogeochemical cycling and reconstructions of the global ocean under past climate conditions. The PhD student in Earth Sciences will be responsible for sample preparation and analysis of water and sediment samples, and interpretation of data based on oceanographic and sedimentary conditions. The PhD student will integrate new and existing tracers to comprehensively understand the potential utility of emerging proxies, guide future applications, and aid our understanding of coupling between global climate and biogeochemical cycling in surface waters. Analytical work will be based on purification and concentration of trace metals using ion exchange chromatography followed by analysis with multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.

The duration of the PhD position will be 4 years. The PhD degree will be awarded by ETH Zurich. The candidate will be based in the department of Surface Waters at Eawag in Kastanienbaum, and supervised by Dr David Janssen. The project is funded in collaboration with the group of Prof. Derek Vance, and lab work will be conducted at ETH Zurich and Eawag. The PhD candidates will benefit from collaboration with the PIs’ groups and external collaborators. The international and cross-disciplinary nature of this project will be ideal for promoting problem solving, independent thinking, and for building a research network for the future scientific career development of the student.

We are looking for a highly motivated person with interests in biogeochemistry, and in comprehensively evaluating information from modern settings in order to better understand modern, past and future biogeochemical cycling. The project integrates data across wide time and spatial scales, and would benefit from a creative and open researcher who can synthesize information well. Sample preparation and analysis will account for the majority of the work, with significant time also dedicated to processing and analysing data. There will be opportunities to gain experience with fieldwork based on related projects, should the student be interested.

The successful candidate is expected to hold an MSc degree in Earth Sciences, Chemistry or Environmental Chemistry, has experience in analytical chemistry (ideally inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and experience preparing samples in cleanroom settings), demonstrated skills in scientific communication (e.g., thesis, paper writing, and oral or poster presentations), and a willingness to learn and expand skills in sample preparation and multi-collector plasma mass spectrometry. Prior experience with metal stable isotope analysis, column chromatography, oceanography and/or coupled biogeochemical cycling will be valuable assets. Fluency in English is required.

Eawag is a modern employer and offers an excellent working environment where staff can contribute their strengths, experience and ways of thinking. We promote gender equality and are committed to staff diversity and inclusion. The compatibility of career and family is of central importance to us. For more information about Eawag and our work conditions please consult www.eawag.ch and www.eawag.ch/en/aboutus/working/employment.

The review process of candidates will start on 1 February 2022, therefore submission is encouraged by 31 January 2022. Applications should include a cover letter with a concise statement about your previous education and research experience, your vision for the future and in particular your motivation to work on this project (2 pages maximum), a curriculum vitae including (if applicable) the list of publications or MSc/BSc thesis, copies of your academic qualifications, and names and contact information of 2-3 academic references (please do not include letters with the application). The preferred start date will be from April to June 2022.

For further information, please contact Dr David Janssen.

We look forward to receiving your application. Please send it through this webpage, any other way of applying will not be considered. A click on the button below will take you directly to the application form.
Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology