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 1,400 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.
For the Interface Geochemistry section at the GFZ (Department of Geochemistry), we are looking for an excellent and creative scientist to become part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Network ICEBIO as a doctoral student focussing on:

Biogeochemical analyses of nutrients in glacial meltwaters (PhD project) (f_m_x)

Reference Number 6744

She/he/they will join an international and diverse team of researchers led by Liane G. Benning, who is very committed to fostering a fully inclusive research environment. Non-discrimination and equal treatment are integral parts of our group policy. 

The Doctoral researcher will be based in Potsdam and will be one of 11 PhD students in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Network ICEBIO. She/he/they will be registered as a PhD student at the Freie Universität Berlin.

ICEBIO's mission is to train  predoctoral researchers in glacier microbiology and biogeochemistry. Glaciers and ice sheets were long believed to be sterile environments, but just like other large ecosystems (e.g., tropical forests, tundra), they are now widely recognized as one of the Earth’s biomes, teeming with life. Active algae, fungi, bacteria and viruses dominate the glacial environment and they have the ability to change the physical and chemical characteristics of the ice and snow, with global effects. Despite their global influence, many of the microbiological processes within the cryosphere remain poorly quantified. A deeper understanding of such processes is relevant to researchers interested in the possibility of life on icy extraterrestrial bodies, the survival and proliferation of life forms on our early Earth, and the positive and negative feedback that the cryosphere may have on global warming. The microbial communities living in association with icy environments may also harbour unique metabolic pathways, providing novel opportunities in biotechnology.

The ICEBIO consortium comprises 6 leading research teams across Europe (Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Austria and Switzerland) and two industrial stakeholders (Germany and France).

The main focus of this particular PhD project is to experimentally test and develop robust workflows and standard protocols for the in situ and time resolved analyses of nutrients - in particular phosphorous (P) and nitrogen (N) - that are produced, consumed, retained or exported in/ from particulate matter in seasonally changing snow and ice fields.

The work will focus on low concentration P and N species and the evaluation of how they are cycled in cryogenic environments affected by algal blooms during snow and ice melting. This will include the testing and implementation of miniaturized low-concentration sensors that will allow us to analyse P and N species in situ and in a time resolved manner on glaciers and ice sheets.

This PhD project is closely interlinked with other IceBio PhD projects and the successful PhD candidate for this post will have to spend several months/year on secondments at either AU for complementary analyses and at Clearwater Sensors to work on miniaturising low level NH4 and PO4 sensors.

Your responsibilities:

  • Conduct original research related to in situ and time resolved nutrient cycling in snow and ice environments
  • Develop a robust analytical workflow for analyses of aqueous phosphorous and ammonia on/from glacial environments
  • Test these protocols with miniaturized real time analytical portable instrumentation
  • Conduct experiments with solid particulate matter (i.e., cryoconite and algae rich snow/ice particulate materials) to assess the seasonal cycling of all types of phosphorous species in glacial snow and ice environments
  • Publish in international peer-reviewed journals
  • Present research results at regular group, department, national and international meetings as posters or oral presentations
  • Become an integral part of the ICEBIO team 
  • Spend various extended time periods at other ICEBIO consortium partners to diversify your training and collaborations
  • Participate in Arctic field campaigns

Your qualifications:

  • MSc in geochemistry or inorganic chemistry with an aqueous analytical focus
  • Documented experience in chemical thermodynamics and kinetics with a focus on aqueous inorganic processes
  • Hands-on training in analyses of ionic species in aqueous solutions
  • Robust laboratory skills are a must
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English

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
  • Work place within walking distance of Potsdam main train station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus

Start date: 1st April 2023
Fixed-term: 3 years
Salary: The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Network Program offers a highly competitive and attractive salary and working conditions. Each fellowship includes the following:
  •  ~3400 €/month gross living allowance. This amount is different depending on the country of residence and depends on country- specific correction coefficients. This amount is subject to local taxes, social security deductions, etc
  • 600€/month gross to cover personal household, relocation and travel expenses. This amount is also subject to local taxes, social security deductions etc.
  • When applicable, a family allowance may also be provided in the amount of 660€/month. This amount is subject to local taxes, social security deductions etc.  Other possible allowances include long-term leave and special needs and more information can be provided if requested.
Working hours: Full-time (currently 39 h/week)
Place of work: Potsdam
Eligibility Criteria: Candidates can only apply for a position in a country different from the one they have lived in for most of the time in the last three years. At the time of recruitment by the host organisation, researchers should not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date. Candidates CANNOT have been awarded a doctoral degree yet in any field.

Have we piqued your interest?

If so, we look forward to receiving your application by 14th February 2023. Please use our online application form only.
For an evaluation of your application the following information is required:
(a) a full CV and a cover letter detailing how you fit the above described qualifications and responsibilities,
(b) your university certificates (BSc and if already available your MSc) and
(c) the names and emails of two referees.
All applicants will receive notices about the status of their applications latest by the 1st of April 2023. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a virtual or in person interview (depending on the situation) and will be informed about the final selection within 3 weeks following the interview. Members of the ICEBIO supervisory board will be involved in the selection procedure. 

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[at]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[at]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. Members of the ICEBIO supervisory board  will be involved in the selection procedure. Your personal data will, of course, be treated confidentially and will be communicated to the involved person exclusively for the purpose of evaluating your professional suitability within the framework of this selection procedure. Once the procedure has been completed, the personal data will also be deleted there in compliance with data protection regulations.

In case of any further queries relating to the field of activity, please contact Liane G. Benning via email at benning@gfz-potsdam.de. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact our recruiting team at our phone number +49 (0) 331-6264-28787.

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