The purpose of the position is to help the project achieve its stated objective, which is to develop sustainable city-region food systems predicated on the recycling of organic waste and enhanced food value chains.

The project scientist will be based in the Sustainable Agroecosystems group at ETH Zürich but will be responsible for coordinating with, and travelling to, each project country on a regular basis. The project scientist will lead efforts to quantify the impact of the project, ensure the safety of the recycled products produced by project innovation leaders,

support scaling efforts, write project reports, develop and disseminate grey literature, author peer reviewed publications focused on the project’s findings, and actively lead and manage the entire project.This is a one year contract with the possibility for extension through RUNRES phase II (4 years).

Project background

RUNRES: “The rural-urban nexus: establishing a nutrient loop to improve city region food system resilience” is a science-based development project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Its aim is to address two critical development challenges facing rapidly urbanising countries across sub-Saharan Africa: the sustainable and equitable production of food, and the provision of dignified and sustainable basic sanitation.

Currently, both the agricultural and sanitation sectors are dominated by linear solutions which heavily depend on resource-intensive inputs. These approaches have led to nutrient imbalances within rural-urban interfaces across the world. In rural areas, long-term nutrient mining has created a downward trend of agricultural productivity, which harms livelihoods and exacerbates food insecurity.

Simultaneously, rapidly growing urban areas in lower income countries suffer from an accumulation of organic waste (wasted nutrients) caused by insufficient collection and disposal of green, food and human waste, which harm environmental and human health. Most research and development approaches view these problems as disconnected. In contrast, RUNRES adopts a circular model of resource use predicated on the capture, treatment and reuse of food processing and urban organic waste streams as a viable alternative to linear systems.

Thus, by reimagining the rural-urban relationship, the project seeks to create a transformed local economy, one that supports circular flows of resources within the following African city regions: Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); Arba Minch, Ethiopia; Kamonyi, Rwanda; and Msunduzi, South Africa. The circular model in these city regions will be hinged on important food commodity value chains: coffee in Bukavu, bananas in Arba Minch, cassava in Kamonyi and vegetables in Msunduzi.

Job description

  • Conduct laboratory analyses to assess the quality of the products produced by RUNRES innovation leaders. This will include characterization of the quality parameters of the animal feed products and value-added products for human consumption as well as physical/chemical/biological analyses of the soil inputs
  • Coordinate regularly with project teams in each city-region
  • Support project teams with the collection, analysis, and interpretation of project impact data
  • Write project reports
  • Present findings and results to the project donor
  • Co-lead innovation scaling efforts together with project business experts
  • Identify and pursue funding opportunities to address key scaling bottlenecks
  • Develop outreach material such as videos, policy briefs, non-peer reviewed articles, etc.
  • Lead efforts to publish peer reviewed articles related to the project

Your profile


  • PhD degree (possibly a MSc degree with several years of experience in project management) in agricultural sciences, environmental sciences, or similar


  • At least two years working in an interdisciplinary environment with diverse actors
  • Well versed in agricultural/soil science analytical methods
  • Experience working in Sub-Saharan Africa or other lower income settings
  • Experience leading/managing diverse, complex, and large-scale projects
  • Experience designing and managing agronomic field trials
  • Meaningful publication record

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Experience working in an agricultural/soil science laboratory
  • Knowledge of ArcGIS
  • Experience working in a transdisciplinary setting
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English. Conversant in French is a bonus
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and leadership experience is a must

Working Conditions

  • The position will require travel to countries across Sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa)
  • Willing, able, and enthusiastic to work in lower income settings is a must

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.

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 with the following documents:

  • Cover letter
  • CV including a list of all scientific publications
  • Contact details of 2-3 references

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr. Johan Six, (no applications).

Apply online now

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