Doctoral student in plant water relations in urban environments

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Grassland Sciences Group is a vibrant and international working group at the Department of Environmental Systems Science. We are looking for a reliable, enthusiastic and highly motivated doctoral student with a passion for science to join our team. Our research focuses on the process- and system understanding of the biosphere-atmosphere greenhouse gas exchange and its drivers in forests and agroecosystems, in response to management and climate.

Project background

The doctoral project is part of an interdisciplinary project on Feedback between vegetation, carbon, energy, and water cycles in the urban environment (UrbaNature). Within the framework of Switzerland’s Global Climate Observing System and Global Atmosphere Watch programmes, UrbaNature aims to create new knowledge and develop methodologies for observing and simulating the role of vegetation in carbon, energy, and water cycles in the urban environment. Together with colleagues from the University of Basel, the University of Zurich as well as Empa, four doctoral students will collaborate closely, co-supervised by one other leading scientist from the UrbaNature consortium.

Job description

The doctoral project will focus on urban plant ecophysiology in the cities of Zurich and Basel. In more detail, the tasks include:

  1. the quantification of in-situ photosynthesis and transpiration of plant functional groups representative of urban environments,
  2. the identification of hydraulic strategies of urban vegetation during relevant phenological phases using stable water isotopes, and
  3. the evaluation of plant ecophysiological responses to the urban environment.

You will work together with the other three doctoral students from the University of Basel, the University of Zurich and Empa, who will focus on urban plant modelling, urban climate modelling, and urban vegetation remote sensing, respectively. The full-time position is funded for 4 years. Salary and social benefits are provided according to ETH Zurich rules.

Your profile

  • Upon starting, you must have a completed Master’s degree in biology, ecology, or environmental sciences, or a closely related science field with experiences in plant ecophysiology, micrometeorology, and/or biogeochemistry.
  • You must have very good statistical skills, experience with fieldwork, and programming experience (e.g. in R or Python).
  • A good standard of written and spoken English as well as a driver’s license are mandatory.
  • Good writing skills and the ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment are expected.

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.

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 online application with the following documents by January 10th 2023:

  • Letter of motivation
  • CV
  • Bachelor and Master certificates with transcripts
  • Contact details of two referees

The preferred starting date is 1 March 2023. We will start interviewing candidates mid/end of January 2023. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For further information about the Grassland Sciences group please visit our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr Nina Buchmann by email: nina.buchmann@usys.ethz.ch (no applications).

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 online application with the following documents by January 10th 2023:

  • Letter of motivation
  • CV
  • Bachelor and Master certificates with transcripts
  • Contact details of two referees

The preferred starting date is 1 March 2023. We will start interviewing candidates mid/end of January 2023. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For further information about the Grassland Sciences group please visit our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr Nina Buchmann by email: nina.buchmann@usys.ethz.ch (no applications).

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.