PhD position in forest modelling under climate extremes

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Forest Resources Management Group (FORM) at ETH aims to understand forest ecosystem processes and functions to improve the development of decision support systems for forest management. Research in the group involves developing novel methods for forest monitoring, forecasting forest changes under uncertainty and employing remote sensing and virtual reality applications in forestry.

The desired starting date is February 1st, 2023. An alternative starting date can be discussed.

Project background

Forest ecosystems across Europe are increasingly exposed to climate extremes impacting forest functions and ecosystem services. An improved understanding is needed on how tree species respond to extreme events to adapt forest management practices in the context of climate-smart forestry. The project goals are to model tree species' responses to climate extremes in an uncertain future and identify areas with a high risk of tree stress. The interdisciplinary project will foster research collaborations in different fields of forestry, tree physiology, climate science and land change science, working together with researchers at ETH Zürich and the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL.

Job description

  • You will be part of an exciting new project that aims to provide novel insights into the mechanisms of tree stress at the landscape level.
  • You will combine process-based modelling, forest inventory data and machine learning algorithms to predict species distributions and their associated shifts across broad regions. Identifying target regions at risk and associated physiological mechanisms will allow for improvements in forest planning and adaptive management.
  • You will publish your research findings in journal articles, and reports and present them at national and international conferences.
  • You will contribute to and participate in various activities of the FORM group, including related research and teaching activities.

Your profile

  • MSc in forestry, environmental science, geography, or a related field
  • Experience with modeling, programming in R / Python, spatial analysis, and ArcGIS
  • Good oral and written communication skills in English, German is an advantage
  • Highly committed, creative and motivated to learn new skills
  • Enjoy working in an open, diverse and interdisciplinary team

Your workplace

Your workplace




We offer

ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions. You can look forward to an exciting working environment, cultural diversity and attractive offers and benefits.

More information is available on the ETH website regarding doctoral studies at ETH and employment conditions of doctoral students.

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your complete application including:

  • A letter of motivation, no more than 2 pages in length, describing: your motivation in applying for this position, reasons for pursuing a PhD with the FORM group at ETH Zürich and how you meet the qualifications listed above
  • A full CV
  • Academic certificates and transcripts (BSc and MSc)
  • Name and contact information of 3 references

Screening of applications will start on 21 November 2022, and interviews will take place in December 2022. Applications are accepted until the position is filled. 

All documents must be in PDF format and uncompressed. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal.

Further information on our research group is available at www.form.ethz.ch. For further questions regarding the position, please contact Dr. Amanda Mathys (amanda.mathys@usys.ethz.ch).

About ETH Zürich

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.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your complete application including:

  • A letter of motivation, no more than 2 pages in length, describing: your motivation in applying for this position, reasons for pursuing a PhD with the FORM group at ETH Zürich and how you meet the qualifications listed above
  • A full CV
  • Academic certificates and transcripts (BSc and MSc)
  • Name and contact information of 3 references

Screening of applications will start on 21 November 2022, and interviews will take place in December 2022. Applications are accepted until the position is filled. 

All documents must be in PDF format and uncompressed. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal.

Further information on our research group is available at www.form.ethz.ch. For further questions regarding the position, please contact Dr. Amanda Mathys (amanda.mathys@usys.ethz.ch).

About ETH Zürich

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.