In der aktuellen Covid-19 Situation laufen die Rekrutierungen weiter. Es kann dabei allerdings zu Verzögerungen kommen. Vielen Dank für Ihr Verständnis.

Two doctoral positions on “Microbial ecology in soil studied through microfluidic soil analogues”

100%, Zurich, temporary

The Subsurface Environmental Processes Group (Eawag and ETH Zurich) and the Environmental Microfluidics Group (Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at ETH Zurich) are seeking two dynamic and motivated doctoral students to study microbial ecology in soil. The positions are funded by two recently awarded grants, an EU - Innovative Training Network (ITN) Grant (CoPerMix) and an ETH Research Grant.

Job description

The subsurface hosts critical processes for the availability of life-sustaining resources. In this environment, bacteria play a major role in triggering chemical reactions and mediating biogeochemical processes. Soils and aquifers are typically highly heterogeneous in the spatial distribution of fluid flow velocities and chemicals, such as pollutants or nutrients. Bacteria in such environments are therefore exposed to heterogeneous hydrodynamic and chemical landscapes. The focus of these two PhD projects will be on (1) measuring the chemotaxis control on bacterial diffusivity in heterogeneous nutrient fields and (2) quantifying the population dynamics of competing strains. The students will have the unique opportunity to learn, develop and apply a range of cutting-edge experimental techniques, including microfluidic technology, image analysis and state-of-the-art microscopy. Measurements will be guided by and compared with theory developed within the projects. Findings will help advance an important new paradigm in soil ecology – the importance of microscale processes and dynamics - and will carry fundamental implications for our ability to predict the response of soil microorganisms to environmental perturbations.

Your profile

The successful candidates will have a background in either physics, engineering, biology or biophysics, or related areas, with a strong quantitative inclination and a desire to work experimentally at the interface between biophysics, microbiology, and microbial ecology. The students will have the opportunity to work in a highly interdisciplinary, cutting-edge, fast-paced research environment, to interact with researchers from many different disciplines, to gain skills in a number of technologies, to learn about fundamental biophysical and ecological processes in microorganisms and to interact with world-class collaborators. The ability to work independently, but also to interact and collaborate within a team, will be great assets. The projects will be jointly supervised by Dr. Joaquin Jimenez-Martinez (Eawag and ETH Zurich) and Prof. Roman Stocker (ETH Zurich).

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.
Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich Link icon


We look forward to receiving your online application including:

  • a CV
  • full transcripts from undergraduate studies (both Bachelor and Masters)
  • a brief (1-2 page) statement of research interests
  • at least 2 (preferably 3) letters of reference

Please note that we only accept applications submitted through the ETH online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. Review of applications will begin on September 1 and continue until the positions are filled, with the positions to start as early as January 1, 2021. For questions regarding the position, please contact Dr. Joaquin Jimenez-Martinez by email at or

Your workplace