Early Stage Researcher

Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology)
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
0-2 Years
Degree Required: 


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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 Water Resources and Drinking Water (W+T) of Eawag and the MSCA Initial Training Network P-TRAP has a vacancy for a Early Stage Researcher (PhD student).

Project framework: 

This project is part of the European H2020 Marie Slodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network P-TRAP (Preventing Phosphorus Input to Surface Waters – New Concepts in Trapping, Recycling and Management) (h2020-p-trap.eu/). P-TRAP tackles two urgent interlinked global problems: Potential shortages of phosphate for producing agricultural fertilizers and the decline of surface water quality upon excess phosphate input. P-TRAP targets the P flux from artificially drained agricultural areas and the internal P load of lakes. By this, P-TRAP aims at intercepting the undesired flux of phosphate from agricultural systems into surface waters and developing a phosphate recycling strategy. P-TRAP involves 11 early stage researchers (ESRs) at 9 partner institutions. 

Research project: 

The research of the ESR at Eawag is focused on the formation and transformation of P-bearing Fe solids in the presence of other solutes (Ca, organic matter) and impacts on P and trace element solubility. Laboratory experiments are combined with state of the art analytical tools, including synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopies, for solid-phase characterisation and with geochemical modelling to gain a conceptual understanding of the relevant processes. The laboratory studies can be complemented by spectroscopic studies on soil samples from field trials. Ultimately, this work should result in a model describing the formation and transformation of Fe solids and effects on P-trapping. The project will be performed in close collaboration with Swiss and international partners and involves secondments at academic partners in the consortium but also at companies which are partner organizations in the P-TRAP project. 

We are looking for an enthusiastic ESR (PhD student) holding an MSc degree (at the start of the contract) that ensures appropriate background knowledge in environmental sciences, earth sciences and/or (environmental) chemistry, and with a strong passion for environmental biogeochemistry. You have a solid knowledge on biogeochemical processes in aquatic and terrestrial environments and basic laboratory training. Experience with laboratory techniques for solution and/or solid-phase analysis are helpful but not required. 

The successful candidate approaches scientific problems with determination and is eager to develop multi-disciplinary skills. You must be willing to travel abroad for secondments and measurement campaigns, and to present your research to an international research community. As this project requires close collaboration within the consortium, candidates are expected to be excellent team players. You also have excellent written and spoken English skills. 

According to EU eligibility criteria, applicants can be of any nationality but must be at their early career stage and must not have resided or carried out their main activity (e.g. work or studies) in Switzerland for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the starting date of the fellowship. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account. 

The period of employment of the ESR within the EU ITN project is up to 3 years. Depending on the availability of funding, employment at Eawag may be extended for up to one more year. The ESR will enrol in the doctoral student programme of the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics at ETH Zurich (http://www.ibp.ethz.ch/education/PhD.html).

Work environment: 

You will work in the Molecular Environmental Geochemistry Group within the Department of Water Resources and Drinking Water. Research within the group aims at elucidating geochemical processes affecting the fate of major and trace elements by relating macroscopic observations from laboratory and field studies to the reactivity and transformation of distinct chemical species. In this context, synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopy represents a key analytical tool as it provides direct insight into the speciation of elements in complex environmental matrices. Your work will be supervised by Dr Andreas VoegelinProf. Dr Lenny Winkel from ETH Zurich will serve as your PhD student advisor.


Eawag offers a unique research and working environment and is committed to promoting equal opportunities for women and men and to support the compatibility of family and work. Applications from women are especially welcome. For more information about Eawag and our work conditions please consult www.eawag.ch and www.eawag.ch/en/aboutus/working/employment. Facilities for child care are available at Eawag, sports facilities via ETH Zurich. Eawag is located about 20-30 min from downtown Zurich and ETH Zurich. You will also profit from the training activities within P-TRAP, which includes summer schools and other project-wide and local activities. 

Applications must be submitted by 15 April 2019 and should include a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae, copies of university and high-school degrees (including grades) and either two letters of recommendation or contact information of two people that can be contacted for reference. The selection procedure will follow the Code of Conduct for Recruitment. Candidates will be selected first on EU eligibility criteria, second on qualifications. The candidate will be selected based on a job-interview with the direct supervisors. Intended starting date is 1 September 2019. For more information on the P-TRAP project, including this and other vacancies, visit the P-TRAP website

For further information, please contact:
Dr Andreas Voegelin (E-mail: andreas.voegelin@eawag.ch).