We seek a Postdoctoral Researcher for a multidisciplinary project across three groups:
- The Surface Earth Evolution (SEE) group in the Department of Earth Sciences at ETHZ is committed to investigate the processes that drive global climate change over human to geologic timescales.
- The Earth & Life Institute (TECLIM, UCLouvain, Belgium) is driven to understand how landscapes evolve and how this impacts the humans living on these landscapes.
- The Sustainable Agroecosystems (SAE) group in the Department of Environmental Systems Sciences at ETHZ is dedicated to bring healthy food from fields to tables around the world for generations to come.
Combined, our work intersects traditional Earth- and environmental-science fields to holistically study the drivers and impacts of changing climate and land use. We effectively integrate field-based sample collection and monitoring with lab-based geochemical measurements and numerical models.
This position is part of the SNSF-funded project “TropSEDs (Tropical Soil Erosion Dynamics): Unraveling the roles of climate and land-use on the erosional transfer of carbon from source to sink through time in the Kasaï Basin” which began in March 2022. The project aims to resolve the controls on—and predict future changes in—the movement and fate of tropical soil carbon in the Kasaï Basin, DR Congo. Specifically, we have sampled and will continue to sample sediments in rivers, floodplains, ancient lake bottoms, and soils along the Kasaï River. We will assess the amount, age, and source of organic carbon and how this relates to geologic factors such as clay sediment type or environmental factors like land use and climate, both today and over the past ~6,000 years. We will use these measurements to refine computer simulations of Earth’s surface processes to explore the life cycle of carbon as it is transported from soils (“source”) to its final destination in sediment deposits (“sink”).
You will be responsible for developing and executing research projects within the context of low-temperature and organic geochemistry, with a focus on carbon source and sink processes. In particular, you will investigate the relationships between sediment mineralogy and organic carbon in modern river sediments, and you will use cutting-edge stable-isotope methods to determine how these minerals capture information on climate, hydrology, and weathering. Beyond this, there will be opportunities to develop additional projects: depending on the background and interests of the successful applicant, there is flexibility regarding the specific analyses to be performed and on which samples (i.e., lake cores, floodplain cores, soil cores, modern sediments, etc.). The exact details of the research plan will be determined by the successful applicant in combination with the principal investigators.
In addition to laboratory analyses, there will be opportunities to participate in field campaigns in the Kasaï River Basin to collect sediment (both modern riverine suspended sediment as well as floodplain cores) and soil samples. You will additionally communicate your findings by writing scientific papers and participating in international conferences and workshops.
This position is integral to the research team, which includes 4 PhD students and 3 postdoctoral researchers across three groups. You will therefore lead these tasks but will be supported by all involved PIs. This multidisciplinary team offers the opportunity to learn, develop, and apply scientific skills beyond traditional isotope geochemistry!
Required experience, skills, and characteristics:
- PhD in stable-isotope geochemistry or related field
- Knowledge of mineralogy
- Experience with field sampling and chemical laboratory analyses
- Excellent teamwork and communication in a cross-cultural environment
- History of independently developing and executing research projects
- Proficiency in English
- Ability to work independently with flexibility, critical thinking, and a willingness to learn new skills!
- Experience at the interface of organic and inorganic geochemistry
- Interest in actively participating in the mentorship of young researchers (e.g., M.Sc. thesis students)
- Familiarity with the context of rural Africa
- Experience working in tropical environments
This Postdoctoral Researcher will be primarily based in the SEE group. We offer excellent, inclusive working conditions, an internationally competitive salary (paid according to ETH standards, including additional child-care support through SNSF if requested), and several mentorship and career development opportunities. Our laboratories are located in downtown Zurich and the working language is English. The offered position will last two years (24 months), and there are opportunities to extend this contract by applying for additional funding through postdoctoral fellowships at ETH specifically and in Switzerland in general. The start date will ideally be on or before 1 January 2024 (and the latest 1 March 2024).
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Curious? So are we.
We look forward to receiving your online application until 31.08.2023 with the documents:
- Curriculum Vitae including educational history, any publications, awards, etc.
- Motivation letter (~2 pages) describing your interests, goals, project ideas, and how you see your work fitting into this overall research topic
- Names and contact details of three references
Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview by 22.09.2023.
We exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or post will not be considered. For more information, please contact Prof. Jordon Hemingway (email@example.com), Department of Earth Sciences.