Logo GFZ PotsdamLogo German Research Centre of Geosiences
The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national centre for geosphere research. As a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres we are part of the largest scientific organization in Germany. With approximately 1,300 employees our key mission is to secure a profound understanding of the systems and processes of solid Earth, to develop strategies and options for action in addressing global change and its impacts on a regional level, to understand natural hazards and to minimize associated risks, to ensure the sustainable provision of energy and raw materials for a high-tech society and to evaluate the influence of human activity on system Earth.
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.
Applications are invited for an instrument scientist specialising in electron beam techniques with a focus on high-resolution microspectroscopic characterization of interfacial processes. The post holder will become an integral part of the Potsdam Imaging and Spectral Analysis (PISA) facility hosted and run by the Interface Geochemistry section 3.5 at the GFZ.

Research Associate (PostDoc/ Instrument Scientist ) in Electron Microscopy (f/m/x)

Reference Number 5111

The appointed researcher will join a team of academics, technicians and staff scientists and help run the facility for collaborative research across a broad range of Geomaterial projects.

The Potsdam Imaging and Spectral Analysis (PISA) Facility currently houses: 2 high-resolution transmission electron microscopes (TEM, FEI Tecnai and Thermo Fisher Themis Z), 1 high-resolution Zeiss Ultra Plus scanning electron microscope (SEM) and 2 Focused Ion Beam combined with SEM (FIB-SEM) instruments (FEI Helios G4 UC and FEI Quanta 3D) as well as various sample preparation and handling options including cryo-mode SEM and cryo-TEM options.

The research topics that our team tackles and for which electron beam analyses are needed are highly diverse and span across biogeochemistry, geobiology, materials science, chemical physics, mineral physics and inorganic (geo-)chemistry. Our aim is to quantitatively elucidate interfacial reactions pathways and mechanisms that drive and control processes that shape our planet's surface and (near-)subsurface environments from the nano- to the global-scale.

The selected candidate will work on various aspects related to the high-resolution characterization of inorganic and biogenic materials that the wider Interface Geochemistry team and its collaborators focus on.

She/he/they will have access to and employ a series of conventional and cryogenic micro-spectroscopic charactarization approaches to derive fundametal knowledge about molecular level interface processes that span from nucleation, growth and transformation of phases synthesized in laboratory experiments and all the way to complex natural terrestrial or space materials.

She/he/they will be integrated in all the instrumental microscopy work but will primarily be responsible for the SEM aspects of the facility. This will include cryo-imaging and analyses as well as serial sectioning and as needed focussed ion beam lift-out and analysis. She/he/they will also assist in the maintenance of the electron beam instruments in the facility and in training new users.

The work will allow them to develop own research directions depending on her/his/their interests and lead and contribute to publications in academic journals, to co-supervise postgraduate student projects and to collaborate with various scientists within and outside of the GFZ.

The candidate will also contribute to and be part of the EXCITE 'starting community' project funded by Horizon 2020. This project brings together 15 leading institutions across Europe who develop and utilize electron and X-ray imaging capabilities for Earth Science applications. She/he/they will be embedded within this network and gain extensive opportunities for external collaboration, including playing a leading role in the transnational instrument access program.

Your responsibilities:

  • Application of various state-of-the-art multimodal and multidimensional electron microscopy methods for the acquisition and analysis of diverse geo(bio)materials
  • Development and implementation of new protocols to study electron beam sensitive materials and interfaces with a high spatial and energy resolution 
  • Develop, validate and implement novel specimen preparation methods for cryo-sample handling and analyses
  • Contribute to data collection and analysis for a variety of academic collaborations within and outside the GFZ
  • Help maintain the microscopes within the PISA facility
  • Publish in international peer-reviewed journals
  • Present research results at internal, national and international scientific meetings
  • Lead and/or considerably contribute to writing proposals for 3rd party funding for future developments in SEM/TEM analyses/imaging
  • Help co-supervise Master's and PhD students

Your qualifications:

  • Master`s and PhD degree in physics, chemistry, materials science, mineralogy or equivalent but with a demonstrated strong focus and experience in electron microscopy
  • At least 3 years of well-documented hands-on expertise in operating various analytical and high-resolution SEM, TEM  and FIB instruments
  • Documented skills in imaging/analyses of complex inorganic and geobio materials and interfaces
  • Knowledge of and experience in various SEM and TEM sample preparation techniques using both conventional specimen preparation and ideally also FIB lift-out methods
  • Knowledge of and experience with cryo-SEM / cryo-TEM methods for inorganic/geobiological materials is an advantage
  • Experience in Python programming or writing scripts for Digital Micrograph
  • Proven track record of achievements (talks, papers)
  • Experience in working on multiple projects simultaneously
  • Capacity for interdisciplinary and international teamwork and excellent communication skills
  • Demonstrated experience in the supervision of students
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English (grants and publication record), German is an asset

Start date: As soon as possible
Fixed-term: 24 months with possibility of extension
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: full-time (currently 39 h/week); The position is, in principle, suitable for part-time employment.
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
  • In walking distance of Potsdam main railway station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus

Have we piqued your interest?

Please prepare an application that contains the following:
(a) cover letter detailing how you fit the above described responsibilities and qualifications
(b) detailed CV
(c) publication list
(d) max 2 page research statement
(e) names and contact of at least 2 referees.
Please submit your application online by 24th August 2021 using the "Apply" button. Only online applications are accepted.
Diversity and equal opportunities are integral components of our human resources policy. The GFZ actively promotes diversity and explicitly welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, regardless of ethnic and social origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion/belief, age and physical characteristics. Anyone who has been recognized as severely disabled, will be given preferential consideration in the event of equal suitability and qualification in accordance with the provisions of the German Social Code IX. If you have any questions, please contact our representative for the severely disabled at sbv@gfz-potsdam.de, who will be happy to assist you in the further application process. In case of further queries regarding gender equality, please do not hesitate to contact our Equal Opportunities Officer at gba@gfz-potsdam.de.
Your personal data will be processed for the purpose of conducting the selection procedure on the basis of Art. 6 para. 1 b, Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with Art. 26 of the Data Protection Act for the State of Brandenburg. After completion of the procedure, application documents will be deleted in compliance with data protection regulations.
In case of any further queries relating to the role’s responsibilities, please contact Prof. Liane G. Benning via e-mail benning@gfz-potsdam.de. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact Ms Buge on +49 (0) 331-288-28787.

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