PhD position on surveillance of drinking water for pathogenic and antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli

Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology)

, , CH

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 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for universal access globally to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030. Currently, an estimated 29% of the global population relies on drinking water sources that are not “safe”, defined using E. coli as an indicator. As a result, monitoring frameworks, like the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), obtain vast collections on E. coli from across low/middle income countries (LMICs). These collections offer a data source responsive to the urgent need for surveillance and monitoring of diarrheal disease and antimicrobial resistance. Through surveillance, we can address a number of key knowledge gaps on prevalence rates, risk factors, and transmission of pathogenic and antimicrobial resistant E. coli.

Within this context, we are developing novel methods for high throughput screening of E. coli isolates for antimicrobial resistance and virulence genes. The advertised position is focused on further developing these methods for application to a planned nationally-representative drinking water quality survey (for example, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, Demographic Health Survey). Data obtained will be integrated with nationally-representative household-surveys to inform risk factors for presence target genes in drinking water. The goal of the project is to demonstrate environmental surveillance of drinking water as a low cost approach to inform antimicrobial resistance and pathogenic E. coli transmission processes, and to inform future potential interventions to improve drinking water quality within the study area.

If you are excited about this topic, and you hold an M.Sc. in biology, environmental sciences, environmental engineering, public health, or related field, you are invited to apply. Prior experience in a microbiology laboratory is a strong asset. The candidate must be eager to execute one or more of several techniques including (but not limited to) molecular and microbiological laboratory work, environmental sampling, and statistical modeling. The candidate must be willing to work in a team environment. We offer a very dynamic and collaborative research environment which profits from state-of-the-art infrastructure and support. In addition, the PhD student will interact with multiple academic, government, and non-government institutional collaborators, including leading international researchers in the field. Project intended start date is on or after 1 July 2020.

Please submit your application by 1 June 2020. Please include a letter of motivation (1 page max.) explaining why you think you fit this position well, a CV and the names and contact information of two references.

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. For more information about Eawag and our work conditions please consult and

For further information, please contact Dr. Tim Julian.

We look forward to receiving your application. Please send it through this webpage, any other way of applying will not be considered. A click on the button below will take you directly to the application form.