PhD: Design and validation of reactive urban percolation systems for efficient pollutant biotransformation

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)

Leipzig, Germany 🇩🇪


The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) with its 1,100 employees has gained an excellent reputation as an international competence centre for environmental sciences. We are part of the largest scientific organisation in Germany, the Helmholtz association. Our mission: Our research seeks to find a balance between social development and the long-term protection of our natural resources.

The job

The UFZ offers four PhD positions in the framework of the PhD college “Fostering pollutant-sink functions of blue-green infrastructures: towards local urban water cycles in climate-resilient cities – CLEANER”. The aim of CLEANER is to identify the control options for biodegradation of urban pollutants in blue-green infrastructures – tree trenches and wetland roofs – and develop technical solutions based on the joint research within the PhD college (see for more information).

Project start: 1st May 2023.

Your tasks

  • You develop carbon-based sorbents and strategies for their implementation in urban percolation systems to improve retention and biodegradation of contaminants in urban runoff.
  • You apply sorbent-filled laboratory percolation systems to quantify effects of sorbent properties, hydraulic residence times, speciation (incl. particle-bound contaminants), and microbial biomass on the retention and biodegradation efficiency of the test compounds
  • You investigate mechanisms of microbe-sorbent interactions and biodegradation efficiency of sorbed contaminants in laboratory experiments and an urban (tree trench) test site.
  • You collaborate with all other PhD candidates of the CLEANER project,
  • You present results at international conferences and prepare publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

We offer

  • Excellent technical facilities which are without parallel
  • The freedom you need to bridge the difficult gap between basic research and close to being ready for application
  • Work in inter-disciplinary, multinational teams
  • Excellent links with national and international research networks
  • Excellent support and optimal subject-specific and general training with our HIGRADE graduate school
  • Remuneration in accordance with the TVöD public-sector pay grade 13

Your profile

  • A MA degree (or equivalent) in environmental microbiology, environmental biotechnology, environmental chemistry, or related fields.
  • Profound knowledge of environmental microbiology and environmental chemistry.
  • Self-driven personality able to work both independently and in a team
  • Prepared to work in an interdisciplinary environment 
  • Very good written and oral communication skills in English.

Place of work: Leipzig

Working time: 65 %

Contract limitations: limited contract 36 months

Salary: Renumeration according to the TVöD public-sector up to pay grade 13 including attractive public-sector social security benefits.


Your contact for any questions you may have about the job:
Dr. Lukas Y. Wick (
Dr. Anett Georgi (





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