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PhD Position - Geomicrobiology in the Guaymas Basin
The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national centre for geosphere research. As a member of the Helmholtz Association we are part of the largest German scientific organization. With around 1,300 employees (including our guests) we develop a sound understanding of the systems and processes of the solid Earth as well as strategies and options for action to face global change and its regional impacts, to understand natural hazards and reduce associated risks, and to assess the influence of humans on the Earth's system.
As a partner in Geo.X, the GFZ has access to an excellent network of other geoscience institutions in Potsdam and Berlin. This largest regional concentration of geoscientific competence in Europe offers first-class cooperation and development opportunities. 
For section 3.7 "Geomicrobiology" (department 3 “Geochemistry”), we are looking for a:

PhD Position - Geomicrobiology in the Guaymas Basin

Reference Number 4334

The announcement is subject to the final approval by the German Science Foundation.
The samples recovered during IODP Expedition 385 offer the unique chance to study the interplay between thermochemical and biological processes at the upper temperature limit of life. Because sulfate reduction is the quantitatively most important process in anaerobic degradation of organic matter in marine sediments, this parameter is crucial for our understanding of carbon cycling in this system. The proposed project focuses specifically on quantification of sulfate reduction, and the effects of temperature and pressure on the microbial community. A special feature of Guaymas Basin are the extensive sills that intersect the organic-rich sediment. These sudden magmatic intrusions cause local heating of the sediment and thereby thermochemical cracking of otherwise non-bioavailable macromolecular organic matter. However, the extent of this heating effect is not known, is it just very localized and does not play any larger quantitative role, or do these sills alter biogeochemical conditions and processes on a larger scale?

Your responsibilities:

  • quantification of biological turnover rates in deep sediments via incubation experiments with radioactive isotopes (35S, 14C, 3H)
  • enrichment, cultivation and physiological experiments with subsurface microorganisms, using anaerobic cultivation techniques and high pressure equipment
  • geochemical analyses of samples and media using Ion Chromatography, Photometry, Tiration etc.
  • microscopy of microbial cells, using different techniques (FISH, CARD-FISH, BONCAT)
  • publish in international peer-reviewed journals and present results at scientific meetings
  • co-supervise B.Sc. and M.Sc. students

Your qualifications:

  • M.Sc. (or equivalent) in Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Geology or related field
  • knowledge of biogeochmical techniques, e.g. ion chromatography, gas chromatography, photometry
  • preferably knowledge in handling of radioactive material
  • at least basic knowledge of microbiological techniques, e.g. cultivation, fluorescence microscopy
  • excellent communication skills
  • willingness and ability to work in an interdisciplinary and international team
  • proficiency in spoken and written English, knowledge of German is a plus

Start date: preferably 1st October 2020
Fixed-term: 3 years
Salary: This position has been assessed as being salary group 13 according to “TVöD Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost)”. The salary group will be determined by the conditions of the collective wage agreement and the appropriate personal qualifications.
Working hours: part-time 75% (currently 29.25 h/week)
Place of work: Potsdam

What we offer:

  • ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic and international research environment
  • state-of-the-art equipment
  • public service benefits
  • extensive training opportunities
  • professional career advice offered by our in-house Career-Centre 
  • flexible working hours and conditions
  • support with finding a good work-life balance offered by benefit@work
  • institute day-care centre on site 
  • working at the Albert Einstein science park on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam
  • good public transport connections by being in walking distance of Potsdam main station

Did we pique your interest?

If so, we are looking forward to receiving your application by the 9th August 2020 (extended). Please use our online application form only.
Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. We therefore very much welcome applications from qualified women. In the case of equal aptitude, severely disabled persons are given preferential consideration in accordance with the Code of Social Law IX.
Your personal data will be treated in line with Art. 6 (1b) and Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with § 26 BbgDSG during the selection process. After the selection process has been concluded, your application documents will be deleted, in line with data protection regulation. 
In case of any further queries relating to the role’s responsibilities, please contact Dr. Jens Kallmeyer on +49 (0) 331 288-28785. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact Ms Buge on +49 (0) 331 288-28787.


Louise Poralla
Human Resources
Building G, Room 429
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-28787