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2 PhD Positions in Biogeoscience at ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich, Switzerland is inviting applicants to apply for a PhD position in analytical chemistry. This position is open until filled.

Research and studies at the Department of Earth Sciences (D-ERDW) at ETH Zurich works towards a deeper understanding of all domains of our home planet, from the inner Earth to the continents, oceans, biosphere and atmosphere. It is a broad and dynamic department of ETH Zrich that is active within a large range of Earth Sciences related topics. Within the Department, the Biogeoscience group research programme focus is to investigate the role of organic matter production, remineralisation, transport and burial as a component of the global carbon cycle. new position.The Biogeoscience Group (Geological Institute, Department of Earth Sciences) at ETH Zurich is looking for two highly motivated individuals to join our team in order to undertake doctoral research projects as part of a Swiss National Science Foundation-funded grant entitled "Climate and Anthropogenic PerturbationS of Land-Ocean Carbon TracKs (CAPS-LOCK)". The main goal of the CAPS-LOCK project is to understand the influence of climate and anthropogenic forcing on carbon storage and export in river basins. Fluvial export of carbon produced by the terrestrial biosphere and its subsequent burial in ocean sedimentary sinks forms a key component of the global carbon cycle, influencing atmospheric CO2 and O2 concentrations over a range of timescales. Terrestrial organic matter (OM) sequestered in fluvially-derived sediment sequences also provides a crucial window into the past influence of natural (e.g., climate) and anthropogenic forcing on terrestrial ecosystems. We seek to bridge key gaps in our understanding of underlying processes involved in the mobilization of OM and associated mineral phases, with a particular focus on the timescales of transfer of OM and its links to intermediate storage processes and transport pathways.

The PhD students will each focus on one of the following 2 sub-projects:

[1] The first sub-project involves use of a combination of quantitative geomorphological (including cosmogenic nuclides) and geochemical (from bulk to molecular 13C and 14C characterization) methods to develop a mechanistic understanding of the coupling between geomorphic soil processes (soil production and erosion rates) and its influence on characteristics of soil and exported OM.

[2] The second sub-project seeks to integrate the above processes at the scale of a large river drainage basin and assess whether riverine OM characteristics reflect landscape-wide soil processes. Abundances and isotopic signatures of soil specific biomarkers will be compared with inorganic erosion tracers (cosmogenic nuclides and fallout radionuclides) in the same river sediments in order to assess spatial and temporal relationships between organic and inorganic signals and to link these signatures to geomorphic and topographic landscape characteristics.

Both projects will involve significant fieldwork (in Switzerland and Canada) as well as extensive laboratory and analytical work, including merging of innovative approaches that will allow assessment of dynamics of mineral and carbon mobilization in landscapes and along the terrestrial-aquatic continuum. In particular, the projects will make extensive use of state-of-the-art isotopic (esp. radiocarbon) and mineralogical approaches to advance understanding and develop quantitative constraints on underlying processes.

Eligible candidates must have completed a Master's degree in earth, environmental or geographic sciences or in analytical chemistry. We seek candidates with a strong background in one or more of the following topics: organic geochemistry, geomorphology, cosmogenic nuclides, soil and/or fluvial systems. Strong quantitative and modelling skills will be considered as a plus. Demonstrable previous experience with both experimental and field work would also be ideal, together with strong oral and written communication skills in English given the international research environment of our group and of ETH. We offer two fully funded four-year projects that would preferably start in the fall of 2019 (latest: 01/12/2019). Evaluation of candidates will start in August 2019 and continue until the position is filled.


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