PhD: Physical-biological biochar filters for groundwater remediation via EURAXESS

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences

Tulln, , AT

Open PhD Position at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria

The University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) is one of the best universities for sustainability in Europe and brings together scientific, technical and socio-economics. The BOKU is located in Austria’s capital city Vienna, which is known as the world’s most livable city.

BOKU’s Institute of Soil Research is seeking for a highly motivated and qualified student in the field of ground water remediation of organic contaminants for a three-year PhD-Position starting in March 2020. The candidate will be integrated in an inter collaboration project involving the Institute of Soil Research (BOKU), the Institute for Soil Physics and Rural Water Management (BOKU) and the company AIT – Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH.

Project outline

The project CHARBAK deals with the development of physical-biological biochar filters for groundwater remediation. The primary focus is on the controlled establishment of ideal conditions for retention and biodegradation of contaminants in the biochar filter. The target compounds comprise of chlorinated hydrocarbons (tetrachloroethene and its degradation products) as well as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with the example of naphthalene. The process of development involves the initial production and characterization of biochars adsorbing the target compounds and being colonized by compound degrading biofilms. Tracer experiments combined with monitoring of the organic compounds and isotope analysis will be conducted to distinguish between sorption and degradation processes in laboratory batch and column experiments.


  • Characterization of produced biochar
  • Conduct of microcosm studies in batch and column experiments
  • Tracer experiments for flow and transport characterization
  • Monitoring (sampling and measurement) of the target compound adsorption and degradation processes via GC-ECD, purge & trap GC-qMS/C-IRMS.
  • Integration of the microbial community analysis
  • Dissemination of the project results in peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences

The candidate will be supervised by Priv.Doz. Andrea Watzinger and Prof. Christine Stumpp and will closely work in accordance and with the support of the Post-Doc Dr. Simon Leitner in order to carry out above listed tasks.


  • Masters-Degree in life/environmental sciences, engineering, chemistry or physics.
  • Knowledge of physical and/or chemical analysis
  • Good experience in lab work
  • Good PC-software skills (office, statistics, analytics)
  • Independent and goal-oriented working style
  • Team spirit
  • Good English skills

We offer

A small, highly motivated and well-structured research group covering people of different age, gender and research disciplines. A 30-hour 3-year permanent position (gross monthly salary: 2.160 EUR). The work place of the candidate will be variable due to the projects tasks either in Vienna or in Tulln (20-min from Vienna).

Applicants are requested to send a motivation letter and a CV to Dr. Simon Leitner ([email protected]) before February the 3rd 2020.