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PhD Student (m/f/x) in Isotope Geochemistry/Palaeoclimate
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.
For section 3.3 Earth Surface Geochemitry (department "Geochemistry"), we are looking for a:

PhD Student (m/f/x) in Isotope Geochemistry/Palaeoclimate

Reference Number 4947

The PhD position is part of a DFG-funded project (PI Dr. Michael Henehan) investigating whether the strength of the silicate weathering feedback – which moderates Earth’s climate and atmospheric CO2 on geological timescales – can vary, and whether temporary weakening of this feedback can cause transient global warming events. More specifically, it will focus on the climate and carbon cycle of the middle-late Eocene, around the enigmatic Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (~40 Ma). The chosen PhD candidate will look at global silicate weathering fluxes at this time using a combination of Li and Si isotopes in marine microfossils (foraminifera and radiolarians) and global carbon cycle models. The successful applicant will work within a vibrant, diverse, international and multidisciplinary research group (Section 3.3, Earth Surface Geochemistry) at the GFZ. They will receive training in carbon-cycle modelling, microfossil taxonomy, and in the methods of silicon and lithium isotope analysis within the Helmholtz Laboratory for the Geochemistry of the Earth Surface, a world-class facility equipped with metal-free clean laboratories and multi-collector and single-collector ICPMS instruments. Funds are also set aside for attendance at the Urbino Summer School in Paleoclimatology in Italy.

Your responsibilities:

  • isolation of microfossils from deep-sea drill core material and supervision of student helpers
  • measurement of Li and Si isotopes in foraminiferal and radiolarian microfossils
  • working efficiently and responsibly in a metal-free clean laboratory environment
  • developing and applying numerical box models in collaboration with your supervisory team
  • presentation of results at international conferences and in scientific publications

Your qualifications:

  • a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Geosciences or other related sciences
  • fluent in spoken and written English
  • a positive attitude, excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to work well independently and within a team
  • prior experience in micropalaeontology, clean laboratory work and/or numerical modelling is beneficial but not essential

Start date: 1st July 2021 (with scope for flexibility)
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
  • in walking distance of Potsdam main station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus

Did we pique your interest?

If so, we look forward to receiving your application by 30th April 2021. 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. 
For science questions about the project, feel free to email henehan@gfz-potsdam.de. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact Ms Buge on +49 (0) 331-288-28787.


Franca Buge
Franca Buge
Abteilung Personal
Gebäude G, Raum 429
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-28787
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Für Fragen zur Gleichstellung steht Ihnen die Gleichstellungsbeauftragte des GFZ, Frau Dr. Weckmann unter Tel. +49 331 288-2824 bzw. per E-Mail zur Verfügung.

Fragen zur Mitarbeit schwerhinderter Personen beantwortet gerne die Schwerbindertenvertreterin des GFZ, Frau Thiel unter Tel. +49 331 288-1648 bzw. per E-Mail.