The ETH research group PoSE (Physics of Soils and Terrestrial Ecosystems; chair: Prof. Andrea Carminati) studies the physics of soil water and the fundamental implications for plant water relations and life in soils. We quantify processes in soils and across the soil–vegetation–atmosphere system at various scales using imaging, various experimental methods, and numerical tools.

Project background: Natural soil sustains biomass production and serves as a habitat for living creatures, forming a huge carbon pool. Various indicators must be defined to monitor and quantify soil health to maintain the various soil functions in a changing climate and with increasing population pressure. To quantify physical aspects of soil health, properties that can be deduced destructively from small samples (texture, porosity, soil hydraulic properties) are often used but they cannot capture soil structures and their impact on various soil functions.

Accordingly, we look for new physical indicators for soil health that (i) quantify structural quantities, (ii) include their impact on soil functions, and (iii) link them to environmental covariates that can be deduced from remote sensing products.

Job description: You will explore the relationship between soil structural quantities and information that can easily be deduced from lab measurements or mathematical rules denoted as pedotransfer functions. This relationship will then be applied to predict soil physical properties (characteristic length of evaporation, drainage and ponding times) that integrate material properties at the scale relevant to soil functions. As the last step, the new soil physical indicators will be calculated at a continental and global scale.

Your profile

You should possess a Master’s degree from an accredited university or an equivalent ( e.g. German “Diplom”, French “DEA”) in the areas of environmental sciences, engineering, or statistics. You should be independent, inquisitive and capable of formulating new research questions, developing research strategies, presenting research at conferences and publishing research results in international scientific journals.

Strong communication skills, experience in handling large data and machine learning experience would be an advantage. The candidate is expected to assist with teaching and other activities of the group.

We offer

ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions. You can look forward to an exciting working environment, cultural diversity and attractive offers and benefits.

More information is available on the ETH website regarding doctoral studies at ETH and employment conditions of doctoral students. chevron_right Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application including the following documents, each uploaded as a separate pdf.

  • Your CV (max. 2 pages), including information on your educational background and any relevant research/work/volunteering activities
  • A copy of your MSc degree (including thesis title) and a list of courses taken and grades (a transcript)
  • A motivation letter
  • Names and contact details of 2 references

Applications will be reviewed starting September 30, with the goal of conducting interviews in mid-October and making a decision by early November. The ideal start date would be January 2023.

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For further information regarding the position, please contact Dr Peter Lehmann, at (do not add application documents in case of email contact).

Apply online now

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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