PhD Student “IR spectroscopy and soil quality – application in science, policy and agricultural practise” (100%) The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL is one of the world’s leading research institutions in the field of organic agriculture and employs around 300 people in Switzerland.

FiBL’s strengths are interdisciplinary research, joint innovations with farmers and the food industry, and rapid knowledge transfer. FiBL Switzerland’s expertise is also in demand beyond the country’s borders. It is therefore involved in numerous international projects – in research, extension and training as well as in development cooperation.

In the Department of Soil Sciences, we are offering the following position starting on September 1st, 2023 or by agreement: PhD Student (100%) “IR spectroscopy and soil quality – application in science, policy and agricultural practise”

Biodiversity loss and climate change are the two main challenges for the future of humanity. Sixty to seventy per cent of European soils are severely or moderately degraded by compaction, contamination, erosion, and loss of organic matter. In fact, soil degradation costs more than 50 billion € per year only in the EU.

Two EU projects (InBestSoil and BIOservicES) will enhance the knowledge base about the soil ecosystem functions and ecosystem services associated with soil health, soil biodiversity and climate change. In these projects, indicators, tools and incentives to contribute to the delivery of ecosystem services in European land uses will be developed.

The PhD candidate will contribute to both projects over 4 years by testing and developing infrared (IR) spectroscopy as an applicable tool for the rapid and precise measurement of soil quality indicators under laboratory and field conditions. The candidate will participate in field trials and soil sampling campaigns, run various lab analyses incl. IR spectroscopy and analyse the data for publication.

Specific tasks of this position

  • Coordinate and execute various soil sampling campaigns in Swiss on-farm trials;
  • Conduct state-of-the-art lab analysis on soil quality incl. IR spectroscopy;
  • Carry out statistical data analysis;
  • Evaluate the potential of (field and lab) IR spectroscopy for soil quality assessment in science, policy and agricultural practise.

We expect

  • Strong engagement for soil health and biodiversity in the era of climate change;
  • MSc in agricultural or environmental sciences, geography or similar;
  • Enthusiasm for interdisciplinary research in field, lab and at the desk (driving license);
  • Good understanding of statistics and knowledge in R or Python;
  • Good language skills in German and English, with the ability to publish in both.

We offer

  • Opportunity to do a PhD (University of Bern) within two EU projects;
  • Combination of field and lab work, data analysis and international exchange;
  • An excellent and passionate team of young and experienced scientists;
  • Attractive working environment with flexible working conditions (salary according to SNSF).

To apply: We will gladly accept your application until July, 15th via

Markus Steffens,  group leader soil quality and climate, is happy to answer your questions.

We are looking forward to receiving your application!

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