Doctoral student – mycelium for faecal sludge degradation

ETH Zürich

Zürich, Switzerland 🇨🇭

The Global Health Engineering (GHE) group is based within the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH. Our group is mainly composed of environmental engineers, economists and social scientists. Our work is transdisciplinary and all research focuses on engineering aspects of environmental and human health in resource-constrained countries. We are guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a focus on 6, 11, and 12.

Project background

Approximately 2.6 billion people do not have access to safe sanitation, but unsafe treatment and widespread dumping exposes billions more people, even those with access, to the myriad health consequences of poor excreta management. And though efforts have focused on improving the affordability and accessibility of safe emptying services, parallel in-situ technologies are required to hygienise pit-contained excreta that is too difficult or expensive to extract for off-site treatment.

Job description

Recently, mycelium has been embraced as a low-cost, highly adaptable, degradable material for a variety of applications.  However, in the context of sanitation, little work has addressed the possibilities of using mycelium as a treatment technology. By testing different strains, growing conditions, and product configurations, we aim to develop low-cost mycelium-based materials that can accelerate sludge degradation, extend the life of latrines, and/or reduce the need for offsite treatment. Unlike other GHE positions, this work will be primarily based in the laboratory at ETH Zurich with limited travel. 

Your profile

We are looking for a  candidate who is as committed to scientific discovery as they are to sanitation. The ideal candidate has:

We offer

We are a small and committed team of about ten people with a collegial culture. We value transparency, openness and believe it is important to share our knowledge with others in formats beyond just publications. We reflect on our work and constantly improve it. We believe that the world can be improved by publishing the work openly. We do not just mean results, we share data, code, and designs under permissive licence so anyone can reuse and build upon our work without restrictions. chevron_right Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application (in English)including:

  • A 1-page letter of motivation detailing previous research experience and relevant skills in field and/or lab work. Additional photographs or drawings of mycelium products may be attached in addition to the 1 page letter
  • A CV including publications
  • Contact details of 2 referees

The application and selection process will follow these dates:

  • 2024-04-21: due date for submission of application
  • 2024-04-29: notification about passing first selection round (three selected candidates)
  • 2024-05-13 to 2023-05-17: a week reserved for a personal, technical, and a group interview
  • 2024-05-24: final notification about selection

Ideally, the candidate will be able to start 1 September 2024, though we will consider each candidate’s personal situation.

More information about the Interview process:

  • The interview will be remotely unless it is feasible for you to come to our offices in Zurich
  • The personal interview will be 45-minutes-long and attended by Dr. Jakub Tkaczuk and Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Tilley
  • We will organise an informal call with our PhD students where you can ask any questions that you may have about how it is to work in our group

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about Global Health Engineering can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Tilley by email (no applications).

Apply online now

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.




IHE Delft MSc in Water and Sustainable Development