PhD position in the field of “Microplastics in Wastewater Systems”

Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology)

Dübendorf, Switzerland 🇨🇭

Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, is an internationally networked aquatic research institute within the ETH Domain (Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology). Eawag conducts research, education and expert consulting to achieve the dual goals of meeting direct human needs for water and maintaining the function and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.

The Department of Process Engineering (ENG) has a vacancy for a PhD position in the field of “Microplastics in Wastewater Systems”

Background: Microplastic (MP) particles are defined particulate, synthetic polymers with a diameter smaller than 5 mm. MPs discharged to the sewer systems are accumulated in the sewage sludge during the wastewater treatment. Published data on MP contents in raw and treated wastewater as well as in sewage sludge samples are highly variable and difficult to compare due to different sample preparation protocols and different analytical detection methods.

The overall goal of this project is to quantify the amount of MPs in sewage sludge collected from selected WWTPs in Switzerland. Based on these data the importance of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) as po-tential sources for MPs in surface waters will be assessed. The following research topics will be addressed during this project:
• Evaluation and validation of sample preparation protocols tailored for selected analytical techniques (e.g., µ-FT-IR, Py-GC/MS) to quantify MPs in sewage sludge samples.
• Quantification of the types and sizes of MPs in sewage sludge and evaluation of possible sources.
• Quantification of the MP fluxes in urban wastewater systems and assessment of the importance of WWTPs as sources for MPs in surface water.

We are looking for highly motivated candidates with a Master’s degree in process engineering, environmental sciences or engineering, (analytical) chemistry or a related field. Moreover, demonstrable communication skills in English (and ideally German), willingness and ability to work in a team environment are essential.

The project is carried out in close collaboration with two other PhD projects at EMPA (focus on atmospheric deposition of MPs) and Agroscope (focus on MP in agricultural soils). All three PhD students will use similar analytical techniques, and will work closely together in the development of sample preparation, analytics and data analysis. The successful candidate will be enrolled at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in the group of Prof. Eberhard Morgenroth. The project is funded by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). The workplace and employment will be at Eawag (Dübendorf, Switzerland).

Eawag is a modern employer and offers an excellent working environment where staff can contribute their strengths, experience and ways of thinking. We promote gender equality and are committed to staff diversity and inclusion. The compatibility of career and family is of central importance to us. For more information about Eawag and our work conditions please consult and

Your application shall include: a cover letter describing your motivation for pursuing a PhD program in gen-eral and this project specifically; a complete resume, one reference letter, and the names and contact infor-mation of two to three academic references.

Deadline for applications is 30.11.2021 or until the position is filled.

For more details on the position, please contact Dr Ralf Kägi

Please submit your application through this webpage, any other way of applying will not be considered. The button below will take you directly to the application form.





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development