Doctoral and Postdoctoral Positions are available in Zurich

Positions are available related to ERC project on Quantitative exploration of physical and ecological origins of microbial diversity in soil (SoilLife), and associated project on “Design and systems biology of functional microbial landscapes”. The ERC advanced grant is aimed at developing innovative modeling platforms to quantify biophysical processes that affecting microbial life within soil complex pore architecture and ever-changing aqueous microhabitats.

The MicroScapesX project focuses on elucidating mechanisms and processes that guide microbial community self-assembly and function. We model and conduct experiments involving complex trophic and other interactions among multispecies soil microbial populations under changing hydration conditions and within heterogeneous and multi-nutrient diffusion fields. We quantify aspects of self-assembling consortia and colonies on surfaces in the pore networks. We will explore survival strategies and population composition and dynamics over extended periods. Insights from these processes will be used to construct a virtual soil microcosm (VSM) – an advanced modeling and experimental platform for systematic and quantitative investigation of some of the central questions in contemporary microbial ecology concerning the origins and maintenance of the unparalleled diversity found in soil at all scales. Insights concerning principles guiding microbial consortia spatial and temporal self-organization would benefit enhanced functioning of systems requiring multiple species for ecological and biomedical applications.

 Qualification: Candidates for PhD positions should have a Master degree or an equivalent (German ‘Diplom’, French ‘DEA’; exceptional PhD candidates without a Masters degree will be considered). Postdoctoral applicants must hold a recent doctoral degree in Environmental Sciences and Engineering or Physics with proven experiences in quantitative aspects of environmental microbiology, systems biology or microfluidics, and some modeling skills.
highly-motivated and hard-working individuals possessing quantitative skills and interested in taking on several challenging problems that lie at the interface between the physical and biological sciences.

How to apply: Application should include a CV, a short motivation letter, names and contact information of two references. For additional information, please check STEP website ( or contact Dr. Robin Tecon (

Evaluation: from June 2015 until filled.

Contact: ETH Zurich Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics (IBP), Soil and Terrestrial Environmental Physics (STEP), Universitaetstrasse 16, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland,

Tel: +41 44 633 6013,

Apply online