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 Altermatt lab at the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies (IEU) of University of Zurich and the Department of Aquatic Ecology of Eawag has a vacancy for a
Postdoctoral Researcher in modelling spatial environmental-ecological processes in river networks (2 years)

The position is fully funded for two years, and will be based in the group of Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt, under the direct supervision of Dr. Luca Carraro.

Assessing spatial patterns of biodiversity has been a central theme of ecology. Species distributions are driven by energy and material inputs, medium fluxes, environmental disturbances, and species interactions, and exhibit characteristic spatial structures or gradients in association to the landscape inhabited. In particular, river networks are characterized by a tight link between their landscape features and the patterns of communities that they host, because of their highly spatially structured habitat, their gradients in physical characteristics (such as river depth or discharge), and their peculiar, dendritic-like connectivity that constrains species dispersal and resource flows.


The specific focus of this project will be on developing and enhancing models of riverine metacommunities and meta-ecosystems that integrate physical and biological viewpoints, in order to provide a holistic understanding of biodiversity in river networks. The project will be built on theoretical analyses, computer simulations as well as analysis of existing datasets including direct organismal observations and environmental DNA (eDNA) data collected in rivers. The project will fit in the wider range of research conducted in the Altermatt lab, involving conceptual and experimental work on metacommunities and meta-ecosystems via theory and microcosm experiments, study of spatial distribution of amphipod communities, and eDNA techniques. While not all of these aspects are necessarily part of this project, the successful candidate is expected to build and link to these capacities and wider interests of the lab.


Competitive applicants ideally have previous experience in community/ecosystem ecology, spatial dynamics, hydrology or ecohydrology. They will be highly motivated, enthusiastic and independent persons with a passion for science. Candidates should have a good conceptual understanding of theoretical and modelling approaches, either in the field of ecology or (eco-)hydrology, and willingness to rapidly become knowledgeable about the other field. Excellent programming skills are expected (preferably in the R or Matlab environment), as well as a very solid mathematical and statistical background. Excellent communication and writing skills in English, good work ethics, and creative thinking are a must. A PhD in Ecology, Environmental Sciences/Engineering, Earth Sciences or related subject is necessary for admission.


The Altermatt lab has a shared base at University of Zurich and at Eawag. It offers a stimulating and international research environment, excellent research facilities and a lively and social working place. Zurich hosts many other research groups in environmental sciences, ecology and biodiversity research, and is among the world’s leading cities in terms of science, culture and quality of life.


For further information, directly contact Dr. Luca Carraro.


Applications must be submitted by 25 September 2023 and should include a motivation letter with a description of pertinent experience, a complete CV (incl. publication list), the names and e-mail addresses of three academic references, and copies of certificates of academic qualifications. The application should be submitted as one single pdf file. The position is open as of now, and the successful candidate is expected to start in early 2024.


University of Zurich and Eawag are both committed to promoting diversity and equal opportunities for underrepresented minorities, and to support the compatibility of family and work. Applications from women are especially welcome.


We look forward to receiving your application through this webpage, any other way of applying will not be considered. Please click on the button below, this will take you directly to the application form.

Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology