Dear list-members,

we currently invite applications for a PhD 
position in Soil Biogeochemistry. The job 
announcement can be found as a pdf for download at

or below. Please forward this information to suitable candidates. Thank you.

Kind regards,

Alexander Heim

Dr. Alexander Heim
University of Zurich
Physical Geography Division
Soil Science and Biogeography
Winterthurerstr. 190
CH-8057 Zurich

Tel. +41-(0)44-635 51 83
Fax.+41-(0)44-635 68 41
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

The unit Soil Science & Biogeography of the 
Department of Geography at the University of 
Zürich seeks to understand the influence of 
anthropogenic environmental change, such as 
increasing CO2 concentrations and atmospheric 
nitrogen deposition, on the terrestrial carbon 
cycle including turnover of soil organic matter. 
We invite applications for a 3-year PhD project, 
entitled « Nitrogen effect on molecular dynamics 
in forest soils », funded by the Swiss National 
Science Foundation.
Increasing atmospheric nitrogen deposition can 
affect carbon storage in soils both via effects 
on biomass production and on decomposition 
processes. It has been observed that the effect 
of added N on decomposition processes varies 
between fresh litter and stable soil organic 
matter (SOM) fractions.
The proposed project will make use of archived 
soil samples from a CO2 fumigation and N 
fertilization experiment. The unique experimental 
design of this study made it possible to study 
interactions between CO2 fumigation and N 
deposition on model forest ecosystems growing on 
two contrasting soils. We will apply new 
analytical techniques (compound-specific isotope 
analysis on plant and microbial biomarkers) to 
trace organic matter dynamics at the molecular 
level. The study will be performed in a close 
collaboration  between the University of Zurich 
and the Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and 
Landscape Research, where a part of the analyses 
shall be conducted. A summary of the project 
proposal can be found at
The main tasks of the PhD student include setting 
up the instrumentation for compound-specific 
stable isotope analysis, establishing the 
analytical methods, analyzing soil and plant 
samples and interpreting the results. 
Presentations of results on conferences and 
publication in international refereed journals 
are an essential part of the PhD thesis. 
Additional responsibilities may include 
supervision of students and teaching. The PhD 
student will participate in the Zurich Graduate 
School of Geography, a rewarding PhDprogram in a 
stimulating scientific environment.
Requirements include a MSc- or Diplom-degree in 
Soil Biogeochemistry, Physical Geography, 
Geoecology or Environmental Sciences, and a 
strong interest in analytical methods or a MSc- 
or Diplom-degree in Analytical Chemistry with a 
strong background in environmental analysis. Good 
knowledge of English is essential. Work 
experience in analytical methods is preferred. 
Technical skills, especially experience in gas
chromatography and/or stable isotope analysis 
would be an additional advantage. Start upon 
mutual agreement. More information on our 
research group can be found at
For further details, please contact Dr. Alexander 
Heim ([log in to unmask]). To apply, 
please send your letter of application, CV, 
statement of research interests and addresses of 
potential referees in a single pdf file to 
[log in to unmask] Applications will be 
reviewed continuously until the position is 
filled. Email applications are preferred, but 
paper copies sent to Dr. Alexander Heim, 
University of Zurich, Dept. of Geography, 
Winterthurerstr. 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland, 
will also be considered.