We are offering a fully funded, four-year PhD position in the Soil Biogeochemistry Laboratory (SOIL) at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale of Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. The SOIL aims to understand the fundamental principles and processes that govern the biogeochemical cycling of key elements in soils. It forms part of EPFL’s new Alpine and Polar Environments Research Center (ALPOLE) in Sion.

Soil plays a pivotal role in climate regulation due to its large carbon exchange fluxes with the atmosphere. Carbon is released from the soil into the atmosphere in the form of greenhouse gases when soil organic carbon is microbially degraded and mineralized. The susceptibility of organic carbon toward microbial processing is dependent on a variety of factors, including the redox properties of organic carbon and those of available electron acceptors for respiration. Knowledge on these properties could thus provide insights into controls on soil organic carbon mineralization and hence soil organic carbon persistence.

The project focuses on the development of experimental approaches to characterize the redox properties of various soil components and the integration of these properties into bioenergetic frameworks to improve predictions of carbon cycling. The novel experimental and conceptual approaches developed in this project will be applied to assess the impact of climate change on carbon cycling in selected soils in the Swiss Alps.

Main duties and responsibilities include

  • Carry out research activities involving soil (components) in the laboratory and field
  • Design and execute laboratory experiments
  • Participate in field work and sample collection
  • Complete classes required by the doctoral school
  • Write scientific articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals
  • Participate in teaching assistance
  • Attend and present at national and international conferences and meetings

Your profile

  • Master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., environmental science, soil science, environmental engineering, ecology)
  • Enthusiasm, self-motivation, and willingness to learn
  • Critical thinking and rigor in experimental work
  • Good organizational and communication skills
  • Fluent English
  • Familiarity with wet chemistry approaches and soil characterization or willingness to learn
  • Field experience or interest in learning to design and conduct field work

We offer

  • An opportunity to develop a scientific career in soil and environmental biogeochemistry
  • Access to state-of-the art experimental techniques
  • A chance to learn emerging techniques in soil science
  • Opportunities to attend and present at international conferences
  • Stimulating research environment
  • Opportunity to build a scientific network in the fields of environmental and soil science
  • Excellent educational and working conditions

Start date: Fall 2022 or winter 2022/2023 (exact start date is negotiable)

Work rate: 100%

Duration: one-year fixed-term contract that is renewable for a maximum of four years according to EPFL rules

To apply, please send the following documents as one single pdf file to meret.aeppli@epfl.ch:

  • A brief letter of motivation / interest in the project
  • Detailed CV- including contact information for 2-3 references
  • Grades for master and bachelor studies

Please also ensure to apply to the Doctoral Program in Civil and Environmental Engineering (EDCE). The submission deadline for this post is September 15, 2022. For additional information, please contact Dr. Meret Aeppli by e-mail via meret.aeppli@epfl.ch

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