PhD position on Agricultural Resilience under Climate Change

Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)
Montpellier, France
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
University/Academia/Research/Think tank
Experience Level: 
Not Specified
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)
Languages Required: 
English and French


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.

Conditions of employment

The funding is granted by the Occitanie region as part of a larger project supported by the Investissements d'Avenir, “Make Our Planet Great Again” grant (AgrobiodiverSity for a food SEcure planet, ASSET project). The salary offered will be 1,768.55 € gross per month (1,421.89 € net per month) during the three years of the project. The candidate will have social benefits (including French national medical insurance). Montpellier is a hotspot for research in ecology and ethnoecology, and a very dynamic and pleasant place to complete a PhD program. For more details on the CEFE, please visit:

We are looking for an enthusiastic and talented student for a fully funded PhD position to work as part of an interdisciplinary project aimed at understanding how to use agrobiodiversity to enhance the resilience of food systems in the face of climate change. The successful applicant will work with Delphine Renard and Doyle McKey (ecologists), Sophie Caillon and Yildiz Aumeeruddy-Thomas (ethnoecologists) at the Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CEFE) in Montpellier, France. The CEFE is currently the largest French research center in Ecology and Evolutionary Ecology. The student will be part of the Doctoral school GAIA for Life and Environmental Sciences, and Technology Sciences at the University of Montpellier, which is first in ecology in the world according to the Shanghai ranking of universities.


Ensuring food security for a rapidly growing population under a changing climate is one of the greatest challenges to society. Climatic projections suggest that social and environmental impacts and their associated human costs of poverty, malnutrition, and political unrest will worsen. The successful candidate will assess the potential of a biodiversity-based solution to reduce climatic risks to food security. The successful applicant will aim at better understanding (1) What are the links between on-farm biodiversity of crops, food production and weather variability? (2) How do smallholder farmers perceive climate change? and (3) How do smallholder farmers create, transmit and apply local knowledge to adapt and innovate to reduce exposure and limit impacts of increased climate variability?

These questions will be addressed in the field, more specifically in a wine-growing system in France. The PhD candidate will use quantitative approaches (on-farm collection of ecological and agronomic data (GIS and possibly remote sensing) to measure agrobiodiversity and productivity within fields. He/she will combine this study with qualitative and quantitative ethnoecological approaches to identify local perceptions of climate changes, actions taken by farmers to reduce climate risks (i.e. open interviews and questionnaires analyzed using social network, free-list and consensus methods developed by the research team). Specificities of the project:

Winegrowers in Gaillac (France): Adaptation of knowledge and practices to climate change. The wine industry is particularly sensitive to climate change. Recent droughts have left an indelible mark in many wine regions of the South of France, leading to decreases in yield and lower quality of the harvest. Due to climate change, grapes may mature too early, with further impacts on wine aromas. Public or private plant breeders conduct experiments in ex situ agronomic stations to transform grape varieties and rootstocks, while farmers transform practices through local experimentation and observations. The PhD candidate will investigate how practices have changed in response to climate variations recorded over the last ten years, and how knowledge has been created by and transmitted among winegrowers practicing conventional, organic or biodynamic farming.

This PhD project will be conducted in parallel to another PhD in northern Morocco.

The PhD candidate will receive cutting-edge training in interdisciplinary research merging the disciplines of anthropology, geography and ecology. The candidate will acquire skills in the study of local ecological knowledge, climate science and the links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in agroecosystems. There will be ample opportunities for following advanced courses, workshops and conferences. The successful applicant is committed to conducting original scientific research in close collaboration with the other PhDs, postdocs and researchers involved in the project as well as independently, to report on this research in international publications and presentations, and to present the results of the research in a PhD dissertation, to be completed within three years.


The ideal candidate is highly motivated, hardworking and creative, and have strong affinities with interdisciplinary, biocultural and participatory, collaborative science. He/she will have the following general required qualifications:

  • An MSc degree with specialization in ecology, agronomy, geography, ethnoecology, anthropology or related disciplines;
  • The ability to work independently and in a team;
  • Experience with field work for long periods and the ability to adapt to socially diverse contexts;
  • Experience with interviews, GIS and statistical analyses will be a plus. The PhD will require more extensive skills in dealing with large, historical statistical databases.
  • Excellent communication skills, both spoken and in writing in French and English.
  • Driver license is required and a car


The preferred starting date is July 2019. We will receive applications until March 15, 2019 but applications will be considered when they are received. Your application should be compiled in a single pdf, in the language of your choice (French or English), and include:

  • A curriculum vitae
  • A cover letter explaining your previous experience and motivation for the PhD project.
  • A paragraph providing details on your research plan, the questions you would ideally like to tackle in relation to the PhD subject
  • Academic transcripts
  • Contact details of two academic references who can provide information on your suitability for the position.

For information and applications:

Delphine Renard: