PhD position in tropical soil science
We seek a PhD student for a multidisciplinary project across three groups:
- The Georges Lemaître Center for Earth and Climate Research, (TECLIM, UCLouvain, Belgium), is driven to understand how landscapes evolve and how this impacts the humans living on these landscapes.
- The Surface Earth Evolution (SEE) group in the Department of Earth Sciences at ETHZ is committed to investigate the processes that drive global climate change over human to geologic timescales.
- The Sustainable Agroecosystems (SAE) group in the Department of Environmental Systems Sciences at ETHZ is dedicated to bring healthy food from fields to tables around the world for generations to come.
Combined, our work intersects traditional Earth- and environmental-science fields to holistically study the drivers and impacts of changing climate and land use. We effectively integrate field-based sample collection and monitoring with lab-based geochemical measurements and numerical models.
This position is part of the SNSF-funded project “TropSEDs (Tropical Soil Erosion Dynamics): Unraveling the roles of climate and land-use on the erosional transfer of carbon from source to sink through time in the Kasaï Basin”. The project aims to resolve the controls on—and predict future changes in—the movement and fate of tropical soil carbon in the Kasaï Basin, DR Congo. Specifically, we will sample sediments in rivers, floodplains, ancient lake bottoms, and soils along the Kasaï River. We will assess the amount, age, and source of organic carbon and how this relates to geologic factors such as clay sediment type or environmental factors like land use and climate, both today and over the past ~6,000 years. We will use these measurements to refine computer simulations of Earth’s surface processes to explore the life-cycle of carbon as it is transported from soils (“source”) to its final destination in sediment deposits (“sink”).
You will be responsible for the floodplain geomorphology aspects, with the specific duties:
- Participate in two 800 km boat cruises on the Kasaï River and a field campaign in the Mbuji-Mayi region to collect water, sediment, and soil samples.
- Use fallout radionuclides (137Cs and 210Pb) and stable carbon isotopes to infer erosion-induced soil-atmosphere carbon exchange.
- Elucidate how erosion, climate and land-use regulate carbon storage in upland soils within the Kasaï Basin.
- Communicate findings, write scientific papers, and participate in international conferences and workshops
Required experience, skills, and characteristics:
- MSc degree
- Geosciences (geography, geology, soil science, agronomy) background
- Experience with field sampling and chemical laboratory analyses
- Proficiency in English
- Excellent team work and communication in a cross-cultural environment
- Ability to work independently with flexibility, critical thinking, and a willingness to learn new skills!
- Proficiency in French
- Familiarity with the rural African context of DR Congo
- Experience working in tropical environments
- Experience working on long, demanding field campaigns
Curious? So are we.
We look forward to receiving your online application until 30.01.2022 with the documents:
- Curriculum Vitae including educational history, any publications, awards, etc.
- BSc and MSc transcripts (in English)
- Motivation letter (~2 pages) describing your interests, goals, and how they relate to this project
- Names and contact details of three references
Applications should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, the above-mentioned documents should be collated into one single pdf file). Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview by 15.02.2022.
For more information, please contact Prof. Kristof Van Oost (email@example.com), TECLIM, UCLouvain.