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PhD Position - ROSE: Role of Bioenergy in Sustainable Energy Systems (RESPONSE DP, ESR 09)

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

Within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 847585, ETH Zurich is offering a 36-month PhD position for an early-stage researchers (ESR) in in the area of sustainable energy systems.

Job description

We are looking for a PhD student to join the interdisciplinary team in the Climate Policy research group, to work on energy system modelling including components of food system modelling and technology assessment, advised primarily by Dr. Stefan Pfenninger.

A planned secondment of nine months at the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL in Frick, Switzerland is part of this project. During this secondment, the ESR will work on modelling the key bioenergy crops embedded in the European agricultural production and food system and run a survey with stakeholders in the agricultural sector. To achieve this, the ESR will be working closely with Dr. Adrian Müller, Senior Researcher, Department of Socioeconomics at FiBL. For a component of the project, collaboration including research stays with Dr. Chris Mutel at the Technology Assessment group at PSI is also envisioned.

The anticipated results of this project will be a series of scientific publications in satisfaction of the PhD degree requirements at ETH Zurich. The results will additionally be communicated in and disseminated through our web platform, through conferences, through stakeholder interactions at agricultural conferences and fairs, and through a policy brief developed together with FiBL.

Your profile

To perform successfully, potential candidates should have very strong quantitative skills and a background in engineering, economics or interdisciplinary sciences. Previous experience with energy system modelling, food system modelling or related ecological modelling work, and/or experience in industrial ecology are desirable. Demonstrable programming experience is highly beneficial, preferably in Python. Good writing and communication skills are also essential.

Eligibility: Early stage researcher in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers, including the period of research training, starting at the date of obtaining the degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the initial training activities are provided.

At the time of recruitment (for call 2 = July 1, 2020) by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Switzerland for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the reference date. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.

Language requirement: Our working language is English so a high proficiency in oral and written English is mandatory. Additional European languages such as French and/or German are useful but not required.

Main Research Field: Energy systems modelling

Sub Research Field: Food systems modelling

RESPONSE is open to applicants of any nationality.

For submitting your online application: (select PhD Program Science and Policy). The online application should contain all information as indicated by the application portal. Moreover, the following documents have to be uploaded under “further documents”: 1) a letter of motivation to join a) the RESPONSE doctoral programme and b) to apply for this specific positon (ESR xx), 2) a comprehensive tabular CV, and 3) transcripts of records. If you apply for more than one RESPONSE position, please refer to them in your letter of motivation. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.


We are offering an interesting position at the interface of science and policy. While working in an international, interdisciplinary and innovative research environment at ETH Zurich, the ESR will be jointly co-supervised by the Climate Policy research group at ETH Zurich and the Department of Socioeconomics at FiBL. Close collaboration including research stays with the technology assessment group at PSI is also envisioned.

The complete 36 months will be under 100% working contracts.

The PhD salary follows the regulations of ETH Zurich and will be according to EU regulations for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researchers. The monthly gross salary will not be lower than CHF 3920.

The successful candidate will be matriculated and will have a working contract at ETH Zurich. He/she will work in Switzerland. The secondment will take place in Switzerland with the possibility of interaction with FiBL offices in other EU countries.

Expected starting date of the working contract: 01.09.2020

For questions and further information on the position, please contact Dr. Stefan Pfenninger (, no applications.

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.
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Further information

RESPONSE Doctoral Programme (DP): «RESPONSE - to society and policy needs through plant, food and energy sciences» is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 847585. RESPONSE DP builds on the academic expertise of three world-leading institutions - ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Basel. The successful candidate will be integrated in the research network and infrastructure of the internationally renowned competence center Energy Science Center.

All RESPONSE ESRs will follow the PSC PhD Program Science and Policy that is unique in its kind. Through the curriculum of this program, ESR will be trained in the communication of scientific evidence to policy-makers and the public; the involvement of different stakeholder groups as well as in policy development and endorsement in Europe and at global scale.

For project, programme and application details:

Working location: Universitätstrasse 16, CH-8092 Zurich

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

Co-funding of regional, national and international programmes (COFUND)


“This program receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 847585”.

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