The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and its Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research / Atmospheric Environmental Research (KIT/IMK-IFU) at Campus Alpin in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, invites applications for a PhD position (f/m/d): Measuring and modelling effects of land use intensity on grassland nitrogen turnover using stable isotope approaches

The division of “BioGeoChemical Cycles” at IMK-IFU has a vacancy for a PhD position to study effects of biodiversity and land use intensity on nitrogen cycling in grasslands.

The position is for three years starting in March 2023 and is funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG) within the Biodiversity Exploratories, an Infrastructure Priority Programme (SPP 1374). Within the Biodiversity Exploratories, scientists from different disciplines from all over Germany and Europe join forces to address crucial questions of biodiversity and how these are interrelated with ecosystem change.

Increase in land use intensity is a strong driver for environmental nitrogen losses and decline of biodiversity and multifunctionality in grassland ecosystems. Still, interactions between land use intensity, above- and belowground biodiversity and N cycling in grassland ecosystems lack a mechanistic understanding, which prevents targeted mitigation measures.

This collaborative PhD project aims to fill this knowledge gap by linking measurements and modelling, thereby considering short-term biotic N partitioning in the plant-soil-microbe system, and long-term physicochemical soil organic nitrogen retention pathways. Experimental work is based on 15N stable isotope tracing approaches at all three Biodiversity Exploratories. The gained knowledge from field isotope experiments will be used for testing and advancing N routines of the process-based ecosystem model LandscapeDNDC.


The candidate should have strong interest in measurement and modelling of ecosystem nitrogen and carbon cycling as well as practical experience in these fields, preferably including the use of stable isotope based approaches. The candidate should hold a MSc degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline. An aptitude for both modelling and laboratory as well as for field work is required.  A strong command of English is indispensable. For international candidates, knowledge of German would be beneficial. Drivers license class B is required for the travels to the field campaigns across Germany.

We offer

State of the art technical research infrastructure, advanced training, close cooperation and interaction with interdisciplinary partners, and a vibrant and friendly, international research environment in the beautiful surroundings of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The salary will be equivalent to the public service TV-L13 (65%).

This PhD project is collaboratively supervised by PD Dr. Michael Dannenmann and PD Dr. Ralf Kiese (KIT/IMK-IFU, Garmisch-Partenkirchen) and also involves close cooperation with Prof. Dr. Michael Schloter and Dr. Stefanie Schulz from the Research Unit of Comparative Microbiome Analysis (Helmholtz Munich) and Dr. Steffen Schweizer from the Chair of Soil Science (Technical University of Munich.

For more information please contact
PD Dr. Michael Dannenmann ( or
PD Dr. Ralf Kiese (


Applications should be sent by email to PD Dr. Michael Dannenmann ( by January 29, 2023. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.
Applications must be made in the form of a Declaration of Interest including the following:
•       A letter stating your specific interest, motivation and qualifications for the project in question (max. two pages)
•       Detailed CV, including personal contact information
•       Copies of diplomas, Bachelor as well as Master’s degree, including transcript of notes/grades
•       At least one signed reference letter included into the application or send per email directly to

KIT strives to achieve gender balance at all levels of employment. We therefore particularly encourage female candidates to apply for this position. With appropriate qualifications, applications from persons with handicaps will be treated with preference.

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