PhD student Soil Biogeochemistry

We invite applications for a PhD project in our group working on "Terrestrial carbon cycle (and global change)". We seek to understand the influence of anthropogenic environmental change, such as increasing number of wildfires, temperature and atmospheric nitrogen deposition, on the terrestrial carbon cycle including turnover of soil organic matter.

„How does increased atmospheric nitrogen deposition affect the budget of fire-derived biomass in a forest soil?“

is the title of the project. Understanding soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics is critical to understand agricultural, and forestry environments, and their role in the global carbon cycle. Along with global change, wildfires will become more frequent worldwide. However, the long-term fate of the combustion residues in the terrestrial environment and its influence on the carbon budget remain poorly understood. Additionally, during the last few decades human activity increased atmospheric nitrogen deposition into soils. At present, it is not clear whether increased nitrogen deposition will accelerate or decelerate SOM turnover. Within this project we will apply 13C-, 15N-labelled fresh and charred forest litter to a forest field experiment, and will quantify resulting C- and N-fluxes released as gas (13CO2) or water (DO13C, DO15N), as affected by increased N deposition. In collaboration with a team the PhD student will setup the field experiment, collect and analyze soil, gas and water samples, and interpret results. Responsibilities include field and lab work, supervision of students, presentations of results at conferences and publication in international refereed journals. Additionally, we can offer a rewarding PhD-program in a stimulating scientific environment.

Requirements include a MSc- or Diplom-degree in soil biogeochemistry or a related discipline, such as physical geography, geoecology, environmental sciences, food chemistry, and preferably some work experience in field and analytical methods. Good knowledge of English as working language is essential. A driving license is also required. Start upon mutual agreement. More information on our research group can be found at For further details contact Dr. Samuel Abiven ( Send a letter of application, CV, statement of research interests and addresses of potential referees to

Prof. Dr. Michael W. I. Schmidt
University of Zurich, Dept. of Geography
Winterthurerstr. 190
8057 Zürich

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updated by Yvonne Hofmann,